Negotiating the Nonnegotiable | Daniel Shapiro

Summary of: Negotiating the Nonnegotiable: How to Resolve Your Most Emotionally Charged Conflicts
By: Daniel Shapiro


In ‘Negotiating the Nonnegotiable’, Daniel Shapiro explores the concept of identity as the root of many conflicts. Stepping beyond the traditional factors of rationality and emotions, he dives deep into the idea that identity, both core and relational, play a significant role in the way we interact with others. Through real-life examples and experiments, Shapiro reveals the inner workings of the Tribes Effect, vertigo, taboos, and the mythos of identity in conflict situations. As you read the book summary, you can anticipate gaining insights into overcoming emotional pain, navigating relational identity, and ultimately, achieving success in resolving emotionally charged conflicts.

The Power of Identity in Conflicts

Conflict resolution requires a deeper understanding of the factors at play. While rationality and emotion are typically seen as the main contributors to conflict, one often overlooked aspect is identity. Our self-conception and search for meaning form our identity, which in turn becomes the foundation for tribes. In an experiment conducted, participants became so wrapped up in their tribal identities that they were willing to destroy the planet rather than take on the identity of another group. To resolve conflicts, we need to recognize the role of identity and work towards creating mutual understanding and respect.

The Two Components of Identity

The concept of identity is composed of two main parts that make up who we are: core identity and relational identity. Core identity includes our beliefs, rituals, allegiances, values, and emotionally meaningful experiences. This element of our identity is crucial to our individuality and is not easily changed. On the other hand, relational identity is formed through our relationships with others and can fluctuate more easily. The existence of relational identity highlights the importance of cooperation and maintaining positive relationships to achieve success in negotiations and conflicts.

The Tribes Effect

The Tribes Effect is a mindset that pits identities against each other, causing a self-righteous, adversarial, and closed mindset. It is triggered when our identity is threatened, even by seemingly minor differences between people. The principle is evolutionarily sound, protecting groups and bloodlines from outsiders. However, it can also lead to a two-person conflict. The author conducted an exercise in which people argued the importance of humanitarianism and compassion and found that once the Tribes Effect took hold, minor differences led to major conflicts. Participants felt their identity was threatened if they conceded or modified their beliefs, leading to a defeatist attitude. It’s wise to learn how to recognize when the Tribes Effect kicks in, as it generates an adversarial mindset.

Avoiding Vertigo in Arguments

Vertigo is the experience of getting trapped in an argument, forgetting your surroundings, and focusing solely on negative ideas. This book summary explains how to identify and avoid vertigo in conflicts. To overcome vertigo, the author suggests becoming aware of its presence by asking yourself questions such as: “Has the conflict consumed you?” and “Do you see your opponent as only an enemy?” By taking a deep breath, slowing down, and trying to moderate your perspective, you can stop vertigo from taking over. Additionally, the author explores the role of taboos in tribal conflict.

Confronting Taboos

Taboos exist within every society and function as a means of protecting certain values that are considered offensive by the community. These taboos can lead to conflicts between tribes, particularly when different societies have differing opinions on what constitutes a taboo. The key to resolving these conflicts is to acknowledge and create a safe space to discuss the taboo, where the parties involved can agree to either accept or disregard it. However, it’s important to remember that acceptance may not be permanent and that disregarding a taboo can be a daunting task. By addressing taboos head-on, we can improve our relationships and move closer to fostering harmony.

Want to read the full book summary?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed