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Yes, And: Core Concerns, Internal Mindfulness, And External Mindfulness For Emotional Balance, Lie Detection, and Successful Negotiation

by Jeff Thompson
December 2010

From Jeff Thompson's Enjoy Mediation Blog

Jeff Thompson
I just finished reading a paper by Clark Freshman in the Nevada Law Journal. I suggest you give it a read as well as the other papers which also look interesting (SYMPOSIUM: MINDFULNESS, EMOTIONS, AND ETHICS IN LAW AND DISPUTE RESOLUTION) but I have yet to get a chance to read them.

Below I have highlighted some sections which stood out for me:

(370) All told, it is a promising story, and I have no doubt it may work for some
people. Yet therein lies our problem. Riskin’s theory returns to the question
that confounds negotiation scholarship, negotiation teaching, and negotiations
themselves: How much are we alike and how much do we differ?22 Scholars,
including Shapiro, Fisher, Ury, and Patton (the latter three being co-authors of
the second edition of Getting to Yes), cite both contemporary psychology and
ancient Buddhism for the idea that “we” are very much the same.
......Although the core concerns approach may help solve many dilemmas and
conflicts, this Article also offers other guides both to test whether the core
concerns really do facilitate more productive emotions, or otherwise facilitate

Part II is the section I enjoyed particularly:

Part II introduces “external mindfulness,” a variation on Riskin’s mindfulness
approach. Through external mindfulness, parties learn to recognize the
predictable physical signs of particular emotions, both in other peoples’ faces
and in their own physiological responses. These physical and physiological
signals can then help parties determine whether their appeals to the core concerns
make emotions better, make no difference, or even make them worse. In
this way, external mindfulness complements the core concerns approach while
safeguarding parties from the approach’s limitations.

I loved this 'shot' he takes at the "folklore" mediation teaching and training method of some:

Before we compare different strategies to work with emotions—direct vs.
indirect, core concerns and mindfulness vs. other approaches—it is worth
reviewing how emotions affect negotiation. Elsewhere, I have contrasted the
folklore on emotion with the conclusions of modern science and research.33
The folklore approach comes from “insights” and “expertise” and “wisdom”
that practitioners and scholars believe and teach. As in diverse disciplines, this
received “wisdom” turns out to have little or no support in serious study.34 On
the one hand, folklore makes several limiting assumptions:...


Given this importance of emotions, Riskin’s sympathetic reference to Shapiro
and Fisher’s claims that it would be too “daunting” to become aware of the
“many” emotions43 merits a closer look. Before accepting this argument, we
should consider questions such as: Can one learn to improve awareness of his
or her own emotions and the emotions of others? What are the benefits and
costs of learning this kind of awareness? And, of course, how do these costs
and benefits of learning emotional awareness compare with the costs and benefits
of learning how to work with the core concerns? (Of course, it need not be
a competition: I urge every negotiator to learn both the core concerns and
external mindfulness.)

This is where my interest is sparked based on how important I believe nonverbal communication is and the impact it has in mediation.

With the great important Clark and others put on emotions, I put equal importance on nonverbal communication as that is how I think emotions (and feelings) often are expressed by the parties and the mediators. If you want to know the emotions know nonverbal communication.

Read the abstract of his paper [here] and download the pdf file [here]

Read more on the latest journal issue [here].


Jeff Thompson, Ph.D., is a professor at Lipscomb University, researcher, mediator, and trainer. He is also involved in crisis and hostage negotiation as well as a law enforcement detective. His research includes law enforcement crisis and hostage negotiation in terrorist incidents. He received his doctorate from Griffith University Law School having researched the impact nonverbal communication has in conflict situations with respect to developing rapport, building trust, and displaying professionalism.

Dr. Thompson has presented and trained on the topic of conflict, mediation, (crisis and hostage) negotiation, communication and nonverbal communication internationally for a variety of audiences including police personnel, government officials, judges, attorneys, physicians, sales people, business professionals, and both graduate and undergraduate students. He has also been published in numerous professional and academic publications.

He is the co-chair of ACR's national Crisis Negotiation Section, and he is an ad-hoc reviewer for multiple academic journals. He received his MS in Negotiation and Dispute Resolution from the Werner Institute, Creighton University School of Law.

(All posts by Jeff Thompson represent his personal reflections and opinions and not that of any organization.)

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