Beyond Reason book cover
"A must read for anyone who negotiates-which is to say for all of us."
- Elena Kagan, dean, Harvard Law School

Applying the Ideas

Beyond Reason is not just an "armchair book." It is a book to help you do better in your relationships and negotiations. The advice is meant to be used.

How People have Used Beyond Reason. The "core concerns framework" has been used successfully in negotiations of all shapes and sizes - from marital and family conflict to labor-management disputes, political conflict to hostage negotiations. If you have tried out the ideas in Beyond Reason, feel free to email your story to us. We'd love to learn from your experience, and we occasionally post a reader's story on our website.* Here are some:

  • The President of Ecuador's story. Beyond Reason includes a narrative by Jamil Mahuad, former President of Ecuador. President Mahuad describes how he used the core concerns successfully to help resolve a long-standing, violent conflict between Peru and Ecuador.

    Roger Fisher advised President Mahuad in his negotiations with President Fujimori of Peru. As described in Beyond Reason, one powerful way to align the presidents and their constituents was to have a photograph taken of the two presidents. Roger advised President Mahuad, however, not to take a typical photograph of the two presidents shaking hands. Rather, he recommended that the two presidents sit side-by-side working on the same problem. This could demonstrate to the public - and to themselves - that their problem was no longer approached from an adversarial framework.

    The photograph was taken (see photo on this page), the impact was as expected, and the relationship between the presidents was solidified by their collegial problem-solving approach. For details, see President Mahuad's chapter in Beyond Reason.
  • A lawyer's story. I negotiate a lot of tough contracts as part of my job, and the ideas in this book were practical enough to use right away. In the midst of a tough contract negotiation, I stopped my usual inclination to fight back at the rambunctious other negotiator. I paused, took a short break, and while out in the hallway recalled the five core concerns in Beyond Reason. I realized that a big part of the problem in our negotiation was that each of us felt that our autonomy was being impinged upon by the other party. I recalled the advice of "inventing options before deciding," went back in the room, and said that there's a lot of strong emotions in the room so let's try a new process to deal with things. I suggested the idea of inventing before deciding. It worked. We usually spend another day or two arguing over details. But this process, and my recognizing the autonomy problems, allowed us to finish our negotiation - even the most contentious parts - within two hours. My client (who works for a big company that often chooses our firm) was pleased, and so was I. And I went home at the end of the day a lot less stressed out! -- B. Sealey
  • Dr. Damdin's story. I am a doctor. I read Beyond Reason over the weekend (it's a fast read). I tried out the ideas with my patients this week, and the effect was surprising. I didn't think the ideas were going to help that much. But they did. Patient after patient responded to my respect for their core concerns. And I was able to build rapport by using the ideas in Beyond Reason from the moment my patients stepped through the door to my office. The five core concerns were easy for me to use with my patients so that they get the most out of their visit, and so that I know how they are feeling. -- Batbayar Damdin
  • A teacher's story. Beyond Reason is a must read. I am a high school teacher and this book has already helped me get the teens in my classroom to become better listeners and more engaged in their studies. (Any teacher knows that this is not always an easy task.) I used the five core concerns in dealing with my students, and the difference was amazing. The class tone became more positive. Students were more engaged. And I'm now much more sensitized to issues of autonomy, the need for appreciation, and the other ideas in the book. I've tried out the ideas with my family, and they helped there, too. Great and easy read...most helpful! -- Tom Kohn.

* By sending us your story, you are giving us permission to post it on our website so that others can learn from your experience. We post only a limited number of the stories we receive, but believe that the mere act of readers writing their story - and how they applied the core concerns -- is good learning for them. In fact, we use this same methodology in the course we teach at Harvard Law School: "Negotiation: Dealing with Emotions."