Welcome back! This is Embrace the Emotion (Part 2 of 2). If you missed last week’s post, no problem! Read it here.

“We cannot stop having emotions any more than we can stop having thoughts. The challenge is learning to stimulate helpful emotions in those with whom we negotiate – and in ourselves.” ~ Roger Fisher

This week we continue exploring the five core concerns, which Roger Fisher and Daniel Shapiro, the authors of Beyond Reason: Using Emotions as You Negotiate have provided as a framework to effectively stimulate positive emotions in yourself and in others. The idea being that the better we get at fostering positive emotions, the more successful our relationships and the more likely outcomes and agreements will meet the needs of everyone involved. Below is a quick recap:

Core ConcernThe concern is ignored when…The concern is met when…
Appreciation Your thoughts, feelings, or actions are devalued.  Your thoughts, feelings, and actions are acknowledged as having merit.
AffiliationYou are treated as adversary and kept at a distance.You are treated as a colleague.
AutonomyYour freedom to make decisions is impinged upon.Others respect your freedom to decide important matters.
StatusYour relative standing is treated as inferior to that of others.Your standing where deserved is given full recognition.
RoleYour current role and its activities are not personally fulfilling.You so define your role and its activities that you find them fulfilling.
Beyond Reason, by Roger Fisher and Daniel Shapiro, page 17, Table 3

Last week we focused on appreciation and affiliation. This week we move on and take a closer look at autonomy, status and fulfilling role. 

The third core concern is autonomy. This is our freedom to make decisions without imposition from others. We do not feel autonomous when our freedom to make decisions is impinged upon. We do feel autonomous when we respect each other’s freedom to decide for ourselves. In other words, am I telling you what to do or am I inviting you to offer advice and share perspective?

When we impinge on others autonomy we:

  • May derail the conversation and relationship
  • Reduce trust, cause others to reject our ideas (even the good ones) and negate efforts to implement an agreement

For example: You walk into a meeting and place a proposal on the table saying, “Here it is. Take it or leave it.” Likely that other person is going to leave it. Why? It is a perfectly reasonable and rational proposal. But that has nothing to do with it. They aren’t leaving it because of merit or rationality. They are leaving it because of the approach and process. Their autonomy was not respected. It was impinged upon. Alternatively, you might walk into the meeting, exchange some casual conversation and invite the other person to review your proposal and provide feedback. 

The fourth core concern is status. This is one’s standing in comparison to the standing of others. In any given situation there is likely a power dynamic. Someone is up and someone is down. 

Our need for status is not met when our relative standing is treated as inferior to that of others. Our need for status is met when our standing is given full recognition. 

Regardless of title or official authority, we all have areas of high status. We can obtain status, or provide others with status, without a formal title or designation. Identifying our strengths and continuing to develop our own areas of expertise and achievement allows us to acknowledge the status of others without any detriment to ourselves.  

Use status to stimulate positive emotions in yourself and the other person by acknowledging each and extending respect. When we treat others with the appropriate respect, it often makes them respect you in return.  

For example: You have concerns regarding office morale and engagement. Your supervisor outranks you in terms of decision-making authority and managerial experience; however, you outrank your supervisor in terms of understanding day to day operations or particular tasks that are necessary for the success of the department. You might approach a related conversation with, “I have a lot of experience with X, Y, and Z. You have a tremendous amount of management experience. Is there any way I can brainstorm with you some possible ways to improve office morale and motivate junior employees?”

Finally, the fifth core concern is having a fulfilling role. This is a “label” and corresponding set of activities expected in any given situation. Our need for a fulfilling role is met when the role and its activities are personally fulfilling or meaningful. Sometimes we need to get creative and invent fulfilling roles when they are not otherwise provided. Three important qualities of a fulfilling role are: a clear purpose, personally meaningful, incorporates skills, interests, values, and beliefs into a task. Not all roles are permanent. Adopting temporary roles are helpful in fostering collaborations and providing a sense of well-being.

“The difference between having a core concern ignored or met can be as important as having your nose underwater or above it.” ~Roger Fisher and Daniel Shapiro. When any of our core concerns are not met, we may feel as if we are drowning, alone, ignored and unable to breathe. Your emotions respond and you are prone to adversarial behavior. 

On the other hand, when these core concerns are met, it is as if you are swimming with your head above water. You can breathe easily, look around, and are free to decide what to do and where to go. You experience positive emotions and are more prone to cooperate, think creatively and be trustworthy. This is true for others as well. The ability to address these concerns brings power.

Key takeaways:

  1. Take initiative. Don’t wait and react. Address issues before emotions escalate. 
  2. Address the core concern
    *Appreciate others by understanding their point of view, finding merit in what they think, feel or do, and communicate your understanding.
    *Build affiliation by building structural connections as colleagues and personal connections as confidantes,
    *Recognize that everyone wants autonomy and offer freedom to affect or make decisions,
    *Acknowledge everyone’s areas of particular status and
    *Create roles that are fulfilling and foster working together.

You may watch CU Boulder Ombuds Office’s Lunch and Learn “Embrace the Emotion: Five Core Concerns of Negotiation” here

Watch Daniel Shapiro, PhD, a world renowed expert on negotiation and conflict resolution and co-author of Beyond Reason: Using Emotions as You Negotiate discuss the five core concerns here

By: Liz Hill, Associate Director, University of Colorado Boulder Ombuds Office