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'Perceptions and Stories', 'Heuristics and Biases at the Bargaining Table', and 'Psychology and Persuasion'

by Gini Nelson
October 2008

Gini Nelson

Gini Nelson


I’m reviewing The Negotiator’s Fieldbook: The Desk Reference for the Experienced Negotiator, Christopher Honeyman & Andrea Kupfer Schneider, Editors (ABA 2006), through the rest of 2007 and into 2008 (it has 80 chapters, more than 700 pages of substantive text, and something for everyone, from novice to expert!). I’m reviewing the book because it’s hot, hot, hot. More about the book and its editors here.

This week I’m reviewing three chapters with 5 authors between them — their bios are at the end of the reviews of the articles.

Perceptions and Stories
Sheila Heen and Douglas Stone

Here’s the annotation from the book’s Table of Contents:

Even when the parties basically recognize the same set of facts, there are often multiple versions of what actually happened. Why is this, and how do these different versions affect negotiations? This chapter demonstrates how each side’s version of “the story” in a negotiation needs to be understood, if the other side is to be persuaded to make any significant step toward an agreement.

Heuristics and Biases at the Bargaining Table
Russel Korobkin and Chris Guthrie

So you still think that negotiation should be based on “rational” thought? This chapter describes several key aspects of psychology and economics which impact our behavior — whether we like it or not and whether we know it or not. The authers summarize extensive work on how cognitive biases and other “non-rational” decision-making can be recognized, and then used to help reach the agreement you want.

Psychology and Persuasion
Donna Shestowsky

We known instinctively that not everyone is persuaded by the same set of facts or the same type of argument. Shestowsky explains the two different types of audiences we typically face in a negotiation, and provides pointers on how to persuade in the way that will be most effective to each audience. This chapter should be read in conjunction with those by Heen and Stone, Guthrie, and Korobkin and Guthrie.


Gini Nelson is a sole practitioner in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her practice emphasizes private dispute resolution, including distance dispute resolution, and domestic, bankruptcy and bankruptcy avoidance law.

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