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Beyond Machiavelli : Tools for Coping with Conflict Hardcover – 5 Apr 1994

4.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (5 April 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674069161
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674069169
  • Product Dimensions: 21.7 x 14.6 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,470,717 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product description

Review

Originally a handbook for diplomats, this book contains tools and practical advice for anyone dealing with conflict...By following [the authors'] guidelines, a negotiator can create a checklist of steps, a set of tools, and an action plan. The charts, or tools, throughout the book provide quick, clear ways to clarify thinking about conflicts.

About the Author

Roger Fisher is the Samuel Williston Professor of Law Emeritus, Director of the Harvard Negotiation Project, and the founder of two consulting organizations devoted to strategic advice and negotiation training. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Format: Paperback
The authors explain their purpose this way, "We are not looking for a perfect solution." In most cases, the perfect solution is unattainable or will be endlessly delayed. A workable solution is much to be preferred. On the other hand, the power of this approach is clearly a major contribution to the conflict resolution literature, and contains insights that you would do well to capture and apply for yourself.
The book references Machiavelli in the title because he first asked the question of what once should advise princes. Since then, there has not been enough progress in answering that question. The book makes good headway in adding new insights and directions.
Although this book is aimed at (and explicitly discusses) conflicts in international relations, the authors also report that those using these techniques in negotiating workshops and exercises found them helpful in resolving business and legal issues as well. Having studied the book, heard Professor Fisher speak about it, and participated in a workshop to use this approach, I agree with that assessment. You can think of this book as the next phase beyond the landmark book, Getting to Yes, that Professor Fisher also coauthored.
Anyone who has gone to law school (which I admit I am guilty of) will recognize familiar elements of the legal analysis process. Yet the application is new and powerful.
Essentially, this book gives you the guidelines and examples you need to create:
-- a checklist of steps to analyze conflict
-- a set of analytic tools to figure out why the conflict is not settled and to offer a new approach that is better
-- an action plan built from a 2 page digest of a proposal, a 1 page list of talking points, and a to-do list for each party as next steps.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This simply- and straightforwardly-written book reprises the ideas of the author's "Getting to Yes" in a specifically international context. If you want to get an idea of the theory behind the Harvard Negotiating School then "Getting to Yes" is the right thing to read; if you want to see application in the international context (eg Iraq in the first Gulf War), then choose this. I found it entertaining and some of the analysis very interesting indeed. What a pity the one book Bush admits he read at Harvard wasn't this one...or perhaps he did actually read the page which begins with an American General saying he thought understanding the other side's point of view in a conflict was completely the wrong thing to do, and didn't get as far as Fisher's comments. (Let alone what Clausewitz's would have been.) Don't misunderstgand me - I think this is a valuable book. But others may fit your needs better.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars 8 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Focusing on Conflict Resolution as a Process 22 Nov. 2007
By Robert David STEELE Vivas - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a fine contribution, but does not stand alone and is in some respects incomplete.

It emerges from Harvard's Negotiation Project. If focuses on conflict resolution as a process that requires a checklist, an analytic toolkit, and an action plan.

The comment that got me past being a skeptic of this academic work:

"International relations should not be a spectator sport." The authors are right: IR is about your life and the future of all generations. Prior to 911 Senators and Congressman would brag about not having a passport because nothing oversees mattered to their constituents. 911 made their idiocy plain to all. See for instance, The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 (Vintage).

They focus on points of choice, but overlook the point made by Howard Bloom in The Global Brain: Your Roadmap for Innovating Faster and Smarter in a Networked World, to wit, by the time a generation is 30-35 years old, their minds, culture, everything is "locked in" and only force and persistence and waging peace can allow a new generation to be created from scratch.

I have two pages of notes on this book, so it is by no means inconsequential. I liked the part that illustrated how we think we are sending one message but in fact another message is received, one grounded in THEIR historical and cultural and current context.

They share the view that Greg Treverton taught me, that decision-makers are beset by multiple information and influence inputs among which secret intelligence is often the least important in part because it can be ignored.

The four quadrants of analysis are very general, but on page 83 there is an excellent list of ten different academic points of view and 10 different professional practitioner points of view, all of which must be understood and reconciled, and that alone moved the book up to a four.

There is a superb conclusion on morality, and the table on page 113 of seven ethical perspective to consider is righteous and worthy. I am reminded of

The Lessons of History: The Most Important Insights from the Story of Civilization
Understanding International Conflicts (6th Edition) (Longman Classics in Political Science)
POLITIS AMONG ALL NATIONS
The New Craft of Intelligence: Personal, Public, & Political--Citizen's Action Handbook for Fighting Terrorism, Genocide, Disease, Toxic Bombs, & Corruption

The authors end by listing four constraints:
01 Poor design of 3rd party activities
02 Limited staff, limited skill
03 Constraints on officials
04 Roles played by institutions

I am reminded of
Security Studies for the 21st Century
Vice: Dick Cheney and the Hijacking of the American Presidency
Running on Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It

There is no mention in this book of the impact of corruption, virtual colonialism, unilateral militarism, or predatory immoral capitalism. It is an essay with no bibliography or index, and thus limited to four stars, but certainly recommended.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Conquering Conflict 22 Aug. 2001
By M. A. ZAIDI - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
How many times we have been in a conflict with others may it be of a personal or business in nature. I find this text extremely useful in punctuating the loopholes and pitfalls to avoid in a conflict and means to manage it. When in a conflict we are always trying to send a message to the other party suggesting them that there is something else they should be doing. The text will help in the appropriate way to transfer this message across.
To identify the root cause of a conflict Fisher suggests that one must not be responsive but purposive. As an example when two children are fighting the adult who breaks them apart may ask "why" they hit each other. To this the most likely response may be "because he hit me first". But that response only explains the cause of the fight not its root cause.
Another key ingredient suggested by Fisher is keeping in perspective the situation and mind set the other side is facing. In a ball game it may be easy to not agree with a team change decision a coach has made. But understanding the dynamics and pressure faced by him, we are then in a better position to critique if the decision made was correct. If we had a chance him our opinion this added perspective can aid us to be sensitive to his situation.
Fisher believes that understanding how others view a conflict is knowledge that gives us strength. It enhances our ability to influence them. Through exploring and motivations leading up to a conflict we can increase our understanding of where their perceptions comes from.
No matter how much we disagree with someone we need influenced. It is extremely important that we maintain a level of dialogue; so that we may not push the party away and be faced with a situation we never wish to face. After the overthrow of the shah of Iran in 1979, the U.S unanimously adopted a resolution condemning the government for a hundred executions conducted by the new government. Ironically the U.S had overlooked the thousands of executions of political opponents done during the Shahs regime. It was in the best interest of the U.S to keep Iran engaged and maintain some working relationship to avoid Iran being driven to the Soviet block and preventing the hostage crisis.
This is not a book of answers and solutions to conflicts. The tools suggested in this book are intended to ask or simulate better questions. Better questions are not about who is right or who is wrong, or about one-hot solutions, but the process of dealing with conflicting views about right and wrong and for dealing with the inevitable changes that lie ahead. For e.g. Fisher suggests that instead of starting with the question "What shall I do?" you might want to start with such questions as "What would I like someone else to do?" and "What could I do that would make it easier for them to do it?".
4.0 out of 5 stars Good. Maybe not great 6 Sept. 2012
By paj88 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a good book. There are better books of negotiation and conflict management out there from Roger Fisher and others from Harvard. But if you already read the essentials, then this is a good addition to your negotiation library.
36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond Stalled Thinking in International Relations Conflicts 16 July 2000
By Donald Mitchell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The authors explain their purpose this way, "We are not looking for a perfect solution." In most cases, the perfect solution is unattainable or will be endlessly delayed. A workable solution is much to be preferred. On the other hand, the power of this approach is clearly a major contribution to the conflict resolution literature, and contains insights that you would do well to capture and apply for yourself.
The book references Machiavelli in the title because he first asked the question of what once should advise princes. Since then, there has not been enough progress in answering that question. The book makes good headway in adding new insights and directions.
Although this book is aimed at (and explicitly discusses) conflicts in international relations, the authors also report that those using these techniques in negotiating workshops and exercises found them helpful in resolving business and legal issues as well. Having studied the book, heard Professor Fisher speak about it, and participated in a workshop to use this approach, I agree with that assessment. You can think of this book as the next phase beyond the landmark book, Getting to Yes, that Professor Fisher also coauthored.
Anyone who has gone to law school (which I admit I am guilty of) will recognize familiar elements of the legal analysis process. Yet the application is new and powerful.
Essentially, this book gives you the guidelines and examples you need to create:

-- a checklist of steps to analyze conflict
-- a set of analytic tools to figure out why the conflict is not settled and to offer a new approach that is better
-- an action plan built from a 2 page digest of a proposal, a 1 page list of talking points, and a to-do list for each party as next steps.
You are exhorted to focus on points of choice for the adversary, looking to your purposes in planning your moves rather than just reacting to what the other side does, and carefully choosing your purposes.
The process basically involves role playing that begins with seeing the problem from the point of view of the other side (this is nicely summarized in tables that show side-by-side comparisons of views on the same conflict elements); focusing on the choices open to the other side and influencing those choices (using tools of message analysis to get to intent); generating fresh ideas (by looking at the problem, diagnosing choices, looking at the approach being used, and reviewing action plans); formulating good advice ("What decision do you want the adverary to choose?"); and helping remove the causes of conflicts with process changes (creating new mediators, training people in this way of thinking, etc.).
The examples in the book cover every major conflict that you are likely to be familiar with in the last 40 years. They provide a useful reference point to the book's principles.
I was particularly impressed with the discussion of how to determine which advice is moral, and how to frame solutions so they would be well understood.
The key to this approach is to break down your thinking into step-by-step, smaller pieces. Those of you who have read Six Thinking Hats will recognize the benefits this can bring. By doing this, you can dissipate your own in-going perspective to capture the perspective of the person you want to convince.
Well done!
Good luck in using this approach to overcome misconception, communication, disbelief, procrastination, and bureaucratic stalls!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Help for us in everyday conflict 9 Jan. 2007
By Craig Cottongim - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
At fewer than 150 pages, Beyond Machiavelli packs in enough ideas and advice to keep you busy for months to come. Fisher et. al. offer insights on how to better understand the people we are in conflict with. Also, Beyond Machiavelli shows us how to be able to influence people we disagree with, and how to legitimately analyze the situation to move towards problem solving. Regardless of what system or social structure you are in, there are ample skills that can be applied to face a multitude of situation. Though the majority of the illustrations in Beyond Machiavelli are from the political arena, the principles of the book can be used over a broad spectrum.
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