Two experts on negotiation — Dan Shapiro, a Harvard Medical School psychologist, and Roger Fisher, a former Harvard Law School professor — offered a way to navigate these complexities in their book Beyond Reason: Using Emotions as You Negotiate. They idenfitied five core human needs that people tend to bring to any negotiation — needs that effective negotiators can anticipate. The next time you’re working with people to move an ambitious project forward or gain buy-in for a new initiative, consider the impact of these five core concerns.
People are more likely to cooperate and collaborate when they feel valued and heard. While hard work and dedication are rarely in short supply, educators do not always feel appreciated, and students and parents may feel equally unacknowledged. Feeling appreciative of someone else is not the same as expressing appreciation. Educational leaders should make it a habit to express appreciation. Doing so will bolster cooperative relationships.
Individuals need to feel that they are in control of what happens to them. While not all decisions can (or should) be made through consensus, educators must be thoughtful about how certain decisions or actions will be experienced by students, teachers, and parents and guardians. An infringement on autonomy helps explain why people push back against decisions that are forced on them, even when they would have embraced those same decisions had they been involved from the start. Educators should develop clear, fair, and consistent processes for decision-making and should honor others’ autonomy when possible.
People are more likely to productively engage with one another when they feel connected. We care about people with similar affiliations. Coaches know this well. When individual players start seeing themselves as part of a team, they are more likely to cooperate, make sacrifices, and support one another. Teachers can strengthen affiliation among students by actively building an inclusive classroom community, and school leaders can build affiliation among all staff and students by fostering a unifying school identity. Our work will be more effective when people feel like they belong and are playing on the same team.