The Role of Emotion in the Book “Beyond Reason”

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Beyond Reason

            The role of emotion it the process of emotion is the main focus of the book Beyond Reason. Written by Roger Fisher and Daniel Shapiro in 2005, the book is attempts to introduce new techniques in understanding the reason behind negative emotions while offering tips on how to gain positive emotions in times of negotiating in formal and informal occasions. Readers can easily catch up the ideas from the author because there are situations adopt in reality and hypothetically.

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            Emotion is defined in the book as an experience which has relevant connection to personal events and associates action tendency, physiology and physical feeling (Fisher and Shapiro, 2005, p. 209). An emotion that reflects negativity is bad since it serves as a hindrance during negotiations. On the other hand positivism is a great asset during negotiations. The authors of the book assert that it is important to recognize emotions because it can make or break someone’s personality.

            The book also contains discussions about five core concerns that should be identified aside from emotion itself. The core concerns are made to convey the wants and needs of individuals and how important it is during negotiations (Fisher and Shapiro, 2005, p. 15). The main function of these cores is to make it easier for leaders and negotiators to deal with conflict.

            Appreciation is the first core concern discussed in the book. The feeling of understanding and being honest should be valued universally. When appreciation is visible, it is easier for people to cooperate and increase a mutual feeling. However, achieving mutual appreciation is hindered by three obstacles. It is hard to achieve mutual appreciation when there is a failure in understanding point of view of other individual. The second obstacle is when too much criticism is present even with other’s accomplishment.

Miscommunication is the last obstacle because one cannot even recognize his/her own value. Fisher and Shapiro identify ways to overcome the aforementioned obstacles. First is by listening to other’s opinion and recognizing how others will emotionally respond to the situation. Second is by acknowledging reasons, beliefs, feelings and thoughts. It is better not to be prejudice and one sided when dealing with conflicts. Third is by disregarding position, wealth and age. The last one is to shape messages so that others can recognize the message with correct interpretation.

            The next core presented in the book is Building Affiliation. It is described as the capacity to connect with a person or a group. This core bridges the gap and at the same time increase productivity. When you feel connected to a person, it is a great motivation to do something because the load is much easier to carry. The authors also made a clear distinction between personal and structural affiliation. It is important to recognize affiliation because it sets a certain limitation that humanizes people but no intent of making friends. Manipulation is at hand when too much emotion is used during agreements. Balancing emotion should be done so that it will not damage the decision to be made.

            Third of the core concerns is Respect Autonomy, which is an appropriate sense of autonomy in every negotiation. This ensures that the freedom to make or affect decisions without imposition from other people is important (Fisher and Shapiro, 2005, p. 211). A person must be careful in interfering with other’s autonomy. As such, it is inappropriate to dictate other people on what kind of decision they should make. The I-C-N or the Inform-Consent-Negotiate system is identified by the authors as a guide in making an informed decision.

A prime example of informed decision making comes through cooperative contribution of ideas; such technique offers advice and alternatives for the benefit of both parties. Seeking advice from colleagues before coming up with a decision, as well as contemplating on potential efficient options available constitutes as a good step in assuring objective representation. In this sense, the methodology of decision making certifies the sovereignty of parties involved in negotiation.

Fisher and Shapiro point out that the fourth concern lies on Acknowledging Status. Status, as the book defines, is a certain party’s disposition in contrast with the disposition of the other parties (Fisher * Shapiro, 2005, 95). Consequently, the argument presented by Fisher and Shapiro implies that status can rouse positive reactions if it contributes to boosting well-being of other parties. It is then important for a particular negotiating party to acknowledge the other’s status before anything else.

Similarly, Fisher and Shapiro suggest that competing for status brings about negative emotions as this may incite an idea that one party is taking advantage of the other.  In this sense, a particular party’s status, or the outlook of a party toward a specific aspect would be dependent on whether if their notable proficiencies pose as advantageous elements in the negotiation process. What is more apparent is that the authors engage the readers with the importance of recognizing the limits of status; this is because the perspectives of a person with a higher status do not necessarily count as universally correct.

In giving out the fifth core concept of Choosing a Fulfilling Role, Fisher and Shapiro advise the readers to choose a role that serves the purpose of the negotiating parties’ needs and standards of appreciation, affiliation, autonomy, and status. To effectively choose a role, a party or a representative of a certain party must be aware of their basic functions. The representative or the party itself should shape or expand their basic role to make it more fulfilling.

In order to determine the how a particular role becomes fulfilling, it is important for a party or its corresponding representative to have a clear purpose, an element which serves as the fuel for well behavior.  A negotiating party or representative must incorporate relevant skills, interests, values, and beliefs to manifest good behavior and a sign of good faith in the negotiation process.  Furthermore, it must also be put in to consideration that not all roles are permanent; compromising and adopting temporary roles can prove to be beneficial in fostering good relationships with the other party or parties.

Emotions are structured in such a way that events pave way for both positive and negative emotions.  In the process of negotiation, having negative emotions is inevitable in one way or the other.  As such, Fisher and Shapiro offer some advice on how to handle situations when the intensity of emotions starts to become a point of concern.  When intense emotions begin to emerge, an individual’s attention becomes contracted, and this becomes a problem because it hinders an individual to think clearly.

Fisher and Shapiro tell the readers not to despair in hours of emotional influx through several tips that come in handy during such situations.  However, the authors seem to give advice on handling highly emotional situations in an inverted manner.  Although Beyond Reason does not give any justification to such reverse method, the authors are to commended on how they addressed the relevant matters on heated negotiations.

Primarily the authors advise readers to gauge emotional temperature.  A good way to calm intense emotions is to acknowledge the concerns of the other party.  It is also highly plausible for the negotiating parties to take a short recess to ease out the tension, that way the intensity will gradually turn down and the parties will have time to calm themselves. Simply put, the authors call for extra strings of patience as they prescribe an observation of differences between a group’s behaviors in contrast to their negotiating counterparts.

While Fisher and Shapiro provide suggestions on how to handle emotionally intense situations, they also point out the importance of determining the root cause of negative emotions.  Although such advice should be discussed first, the authors still manage to take note of the importance of identifying the cause of negativity before coming up with any particular decision.  The authors, in this regard, failed to imply the saying prevention is better than cure, because in negotiations, it is more important to stop an eruption of emotions before it even starts.

In continuance of their reversed methods, Fisher and Shapiro seem to have placed preparation in the last part.  As previously mentioned the book does not give any explanation on why the advice on addressing negative emotions are not logically and chronologically arranged, this is perhaps their way of pre-empting all possible scenarios.  This is, in large part, brought about by the usual tendencies when a sudden rage of emotions can get out of hand easily, no matter how prepared a party is, such situations still take place.

Emotions, as popular perception notes always ruin everything. But by addressing and using the five core concerns to manage emotional response, Fisher and Shapiro have pointed out how the wits and emotions become powerful tools in negotiation.  Apart from relationships between negotiating parties, Beyond Reason: Using Emotions as You Negotiate transforms negotiation from an uncomfortable, unproductive process, and to a lesser extent destructive process to a highly effective problem solving method through interaction.  .


Fisher, R., and Shapiro, D. (2005). Beyond Reason: Using Emotions as You Negotiate. New York: Penguin Group.

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