Beyond Reason: Using Emotions as You Negotiate

Beyond Reason Using Emotions as You Negotiate

Whether the conflict is large or small, professional or personal, this negotiating classic will teach you how to utilize your emotions to your advantage. The five “core concerns” of appreciation, autonomy, connection, status, and role are at the root of most emotional difficulties. More importantly, you’ll find out how to deal with these issues to strengthen your connections with others and achieve your goals.

​​​”Quite simply, the best book I have ever read on negotiating in situations of extreme conflict.”
—Matthew Bishop, New York Bureau Chief, The Economist

“One of the most important books of our modern era.”
—Ambassador Jaime de Bourbon de Parme

“Daniel Shapiro brings brilliant insights to the baffling conundrum of our age, intractable disputes of all kinds.” 
—Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence

Negotiating the Nonnegotiable is sure to be required reading for diplomats and peace-builders alike.”
—Nancy Lindborg, President, United States Institute of Peace

The Big Ideas

Emotions matter. In Beyond Reason, you will discover how to use emotions to turn a disagreement – big or small, professional or personal – into an opportunity for mutual gain.

Practical advice. Beyond Reason offers straightforward, powerful advice for dealing with emotions in even your toughest negotiations, whether with a difficult colleague or your angry spouse.

Five keys to unlock the power of emotions. You will discover five “core concerns” that lie at the heart of most emotional challenges. And more importantly, you will learn how to address these concerns to improve your relationships and get the results you want. The advice builds on previous work of the Harvard Negotiation Project, the group that brought you the groundbreaking Getting to YES. World-renowned negotiator Roger Fisher teams with psychologist Daniel Shapiro, an expert on the emotional dimension of negotiation, to bring you this indispensable bestseller.

Daniel Shapiro's son

Daniel Shapiro’s son, Noah, reading Chapter 5 of Beyond Reason (on autonomy)

About the Authors


ROGER FISHER, LLM., is the Director of the Harvard Negotiation Project and the Williston Professor of Law Emeritus at Harvard Law School, where he has taught since 1958. Prior to joining the Law School faculty in 1958, he worked for the U.S. Government in Paris, practiced law in Washington, D.C., and served as an assistant to the Solicitor General in the Department of Justice.


Professor Fisher has taught and written extensively on international law, international conflict, and for more than a decade has devoted himself almost exclusively to the task of understanding and improving the process by which people, organizations, and governments deal with their differences. Professor Fisher is a member of the steering committee of the Program on Negotiation, a consortium of dispute resolution programs among Harvard, M.I.T., and Tufts.

Professor Fisher has 30 years’ experience dealing with international conflict as an advisor and strategist. He advised both the Iranian and United States governments in negotiations for the release of the American hostages in 1981. He helped design the process for the successful Camp David negotiations between President Sadat of Egypt and Prime Minister Begin of Israel. He was present in Guatemala City during the negotiations at the request of President Cerezo of Guatemala. His experience also includes training the white Cabinet and the African National Congress Negotiating Committee in South Africa prior to the constitutional talks that led to the end of apartheid; working at the behest of both governments to end the 1980 U.S.-Iranian hostage conflict; and advising the President of Ecuador in a peaceful resolution to a 50-year boundary dispute.

As an individual, through the consulting firms of Conflict Management Inc. and Vantage Partners, and with the non-profit Conflict Management Group, Professor Fisher has taught and advised corporate executives, labor leaders, attorneys, diplomats, and military and government officials on settlement and negotiation strategy. In recent years he has conducted negotiation seminars in Bonn, Moscow, Stockholm, Paris, London, Milan, San Salvador, Bogota, Mexico City, and the Republic of South Africa.



DANIEL SHAPIRO , Ph.D., Associate Director of the Harvard Negotiation Project, is on the faculty at Harvard Law School and in the psychiatry department at Harvard Medical School/McLean Hospital. He also has been on the faculty at the Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Dr. Shapiro holds a doctorate in clinical psychology and specializes in the psychology of negotiation. He founded and directs the Harvard International Negotiation Initiative, which focuses on the emotional dimension of conflict and negotiation.

In addition to teaching at Harvard, Dr. Shapiro travels throughout the United States and the world teaching negotiation to groups such as governmental officials, corporate executives, lawyers, psychologists, and dispute resolution professionals. His extensive client list runs the gamut from Starbucks and Microsoft to the EPA and the San Antonio School System. His international experience includes training Chinese officials, Serbian Members of Parliament, Middle Eastern negotiators, Macedonian politicians, and senior U.S. officials. He also is an advisor to the International Criminal Court. During the Bosnian War, he conducted conflict management trainings in Croatia and Serbia . Through funding from the Soros Foundation, he developed a conflict management program that now reaches one million people across more than 30 countries.

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.


The presidents of Ecuador and Peru, Jamil Mahuad and Alberto Fujimori, during negotiations

How People have Used Beyond ReasonThe “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.

What People are Saying

“Powerful, practical advice. It will put your emotions to good use.”

– Desmond Tutu

“A brilliant guide … Anyone who faces a difficult conversation, let alone a formal negotiation, can use this as a guidebook.”

– Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence

“So carefully constructed and written that you may find yourself praising its common sense and nodding easily in concurrence.It is a book to reflect upon and that belongs on every negotiator’s reference shelf.”

– The Negotiator Magazine

“Valuable, clearly written book”

– USA Today

“A must read for anyone who negotiates-which is to say for all of us.”

– Elena Kagan, Dean, Harvard Law School; Former associate counsel to the U.S. president

“Profound and easy-to-read. There is no interaction setting – public, professional or personal, local or international – where its recommendations will not be applicable.”

– Elise Boulding, Dartmouth College

“With exemplary clarity and thoroughness, and without one unnecessary word… Destined to take its place alongside Getting to Yes on innumerable bookshelves around the world.”

-Howard Gardner, Harvard Graduate School of Education

“Masters of diplomacy, Fisher and Shapiro, of the Harvard Negotiation Project, build on Fisher’s bestseller (he co-authored Getting to YES) with this instructive, clearly written book that addresses the emotions and relationships inevitably involved in negotiation.”

– Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)

“An extraordinarily clear account of the complex effects of human emotions in social exchange that should raise the level of civility and effectiveness in all our interactions, whether we are negotiating or dining with a friend.”

– Jerome Kagan, Harvard University

“An indispensable ‘real world’ guide for anyone. We regularly apply the skills of Beyond Reason to create the straightforward dialogue that resolves the vast majority of our hostage negotiations.”

– Lt. Jack J. Cambria, Commanding Officer NYPD, Hostage Negotiation Team

“Beyond Reason provides essential tools to understand how to develop solutions to even the most serious problem.”

– Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Chief Prosecutor, International Criminal Court

Winner of the prestigious Outstanding Book Award for Excellence in Conflict Resolution

– From the International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution

“Beyond Reason is exactly what we need now: a lucid, systematic approach to dealing with emotions, infused with a practical wisdom that will help you understand, enrich, and improve all your negotiations – and all your relations with fellow human beings.”

– Leonard L. Riskin, Director Center for the Study of Dispute Resolution University of Missouri-Columbia

“The resurgence of interest in emotions has broadened the impact of research on brain and behavior. Beyond Reason takes this to a new level, showing how emotions can positively and negatively affect the way managers and other negotiators approach their goals.”

– Joseph LeDoux, New York University author of The Emotional Brain and Synaptic Self

“Beyond Reason truly takes Getting to YES to the next level, integrating emotional sophistication into the canonical approach. Where the first book taught us to create value in the face of the emotional rollercoaster that is any negotiation, the new book [Beyond Reason] teaches us how to change the roller-coaster – if not into a Sunday drive, then at least into a more predictable commute.”

– Negotiation Journal