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agreements, especially in thorny subjects, but they’re often not very good – from the banking crisis here to terrorismto strikes to what’s going on in the US to busi- nesses that can’t seem to get together in a merger.”

Collaborative negotiating Diamond is quick to debunk several negotiating myths, as he sees them. “The first thing I found was that the concept of power and leverage is greatly overused, and doesn’t do what people want it to do,” he says. “When you exert your power over somebody they get angry and they retaliate. They don’t bend to your will and that means malicious obedience at work, it means suicide bombs in the Middle East and it means the kid who’s kicking and screaming on the floor. “Not only is leverage ineffective too much of the time,

the second thing it does is it destroys relationships. If you tell somebody you have alternatives, they don’t like it. I like to use the analogy of going out to dinner with somebody that you’re fond of, and in the middle of din- ner telling them that if this doesn’t work out you’ve got all these different alternatives, and you pull out your black book and rifle through it. Just see what happens! “Sometimes this approach can work, if there’s a great

power difference between the parties, but it’s not long term. People remember you used this on them. “And the third issue is that you overuse your power

and you become extreme and you become ostracised, and so power is a very unstable bond. In fact more recent studies have shown that people who collaborate get much more than people who don’t.” He points to the work of Nobel Prize winner John

Nash, the Princeton mathematician characterised by Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind. “What he actually did was take the hypothesis of 18th-century Swiss philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and proved mathe- matically what Rousseau said – which was that when parties collaborate the overall size of the pie expands to such an extent that each party gets more than he could possibly get alone, no matter the size of the pie. Now, that’s a very tantalising hypothesis that Nash proved, so that is no longer in dispute. “And yet we have a whole world that uses tools like sanctions. I mean the thing about sanctions is it

provokes what I call the Alamo strategy. It doesn’t mat- ter how many sanctions we put on Iran or North Korea, they will fight till the last man standing. People get emotional and they will not let you put your thumb on them no matter what you do. That’s a problem. “The second level is then the cognoscente in the field

of negotiation in the last 30 years, beginning with the Harvard group of which I was part. It said: ‘Okay let’s look at interest-based negotiation, rational actors and find win/win.’ That’s where the negotiation body of work has generally stopped, and I found significant problems with that too. The problem I found with that is the big- ger the negotiation the more emotional the parties are. “And when people get emotional they don’t care about

rational actions, they don’t care about win/win. If you’ve got a local bank or government that takes your job, cuts your salary, you don’t want to hear about win/win, you want to know ‘What am I going to do to raise my fam- ily?’ You don’t want to see spreadsheets and nice eco- nomic studies. “Win/win is a rational tactic for an irrational world,”

says Diamond. “It can work sometimes but at the mar- gins, especially in big negotiations. He points to the Middle East peace process as a case

in point. “Settlements are not really the issue, or they shouldn’t be. They take less than 5pc of land in theWest Bank, and land swaps have been discussed, yet the peo- ple are focused on them, because they’re a symbol. What the Palestinians should say every time, when any issue is raised, is: ‘Where’s my State?’ That would be a relentless focus on goals.” This is the key, says Diamond, to remain focused on

your goals, and to not get distracted by side issues. “The way I do that is to say: ‘What do I want at the end of the process that I don’t have now, whether I win or not?’ Sometimes I want to lose today to win tomorrow; some- times I want you to feel that you’ve won.”

Perceptions and feelings Diamond says he has discovered a much more effective route to ‘Yes’, and that is all about dealing with percep- tions and feelings. “You need to look at how people view the world, through what lens, get into their subcon- scious, and understand their emotions,” he says.

40 Irish Director Winter 2010

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