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
Date Written: March 15, 2017
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.
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