Aesthetics in Negotiation: Part One: Four Elements

in C. Honeyman; & A.K. Schneider; (eds), The Negotiator's Desk Reference Vol.1, DRI Press, Saint Paul, Minnesota (2017)

23 Pages Posted: 12 Feb 2019 Last revised: 27 Feb 2019

See all articles by Nadja Marie Alexander

Nadja Marie Alexander

Singapore Management University - School of Law; Singapore Management University - Centre for AI & Data Governance

Michelle LeBaron

University of British Columbia - Faculty of Law

Date Written: March 15, 2017

Abstract

From Sun Tzu’s Art of War to Fisher and Ury’s Getting to Yes, negotiation advice is widely available. Each publication offers a window on the subject, drawing from particular theories of human nature and change.They serve a variety of ends and address a number of possible avenues to improving negotiation that vary according to context, culture and discipline. The publications explain strategy, structure and skills; they promise efficiency, effectiveness or success. What they do not provide is in-sight into the essential roles that beauty and nature — aesthetic elements — play in negotiation. Overlooked through lenses that accent utility and orderliness, beauty and natural metaphors introduce a range of sensual, embodied ways that our human thirst for belonging and for feeling moved is implicated in negotiation. When these ideas are introduced to the corpus of work on negotiation, the importance of intuition and relational capacities comes into focus. Negotiation becomes more vivid and compelling; fields of possibility appear that were unavailable via more analytic ways of imagining negotiation processes.

Throughout this chapter, we tap into a significant 21st century vein of scientific, philosophical and aesthetic work that underlines ways we are all interconnected, portraying humans as porous beings with the ability for agency and mutual, multidirectional influence. What we previously believed as real — Cartesian duality of mind and body and separateness between individuals and objects — is a fast-fading myth. (Damasio1994; BenZion 2010) This significant shift in thinking has profound implications for our approach to negotiation.

We follow a discussion of aesthetics and beauty with an exploration of how four elements — earth, water, air and fire — can assist with the project of expanding our effectiveness as negotiators. We examine how these elements help us to better build awareness — of ourselves, of other negotiators and of the context within which negotiation interactions unfold. By developing greater awareness of beauty and nature, negotiators can better navigate the emergent and complex nature of the negotiation process itself.

Suggested Citation

Alexander, Nadja Marie and LeBaron, Michelle, Aesthetics in Negotiation: Part One: Four Elements (March 15, 2017). in C. Honeyman; & A.K. Schneider; (eds), The Negotiator's Desk Reference Vol.1, DRI Press, Saint Paul, Minnesota (2017) . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3327075

Nadja Marie Alexander (Contact Author)

Singapore Management University - School of Law ( email )

55 Armenian Street
Singapore, 179943
Singapore

Singapore Management University - Centre for AI & Data Governance ( email )

55 Armenian Street
Singapore
Singapore

Michelle LeBaron

University of British Columbia - Faculty of Law ( email )

1822 East Mall
Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z1
Canada

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