A close companion to “Getting to Yes”, Radical Collaboration presents a framework for reaching solutions that, in contrast to many other such guides, focuses largely on personality traits. The first place you need to work, argue the authors, is on yourself. The first “essential skill”, therefore, is “collaborative intention”: in other words, you have to want to work with the other person. This point, while seemingly obvious, is essential. Often we say that we can only work with others when the chemistry is right, or we share the same values. Sometimes, however, we have no choice. That is the “radical” part of the book’s title.
Other essential skills include truthfulness (of the emotional kind); self-accountability; self-awareness; and problem-solving. The main focus of the book lies in “unhooking your buttons” – only by approaching collaborative situations non-defensively can we achieve the outcomes we desire. Many negotiations, however, buckle under accusations, counter-accusations, and defensiveness. Being able to see a situation for what it is, and to react to criticism productively, is the greatest ally for collaborative success.
Readers who know the Harvard Negotiation Project will be familiar with terms such as ‘interest-based negotiating’ and ‘separating people from the issue’. This will work if both parties are engaged in finding a “mutually beneficial solution”. In some cases, however, real people – emotional, irrational, or worse – are involved, in which case, Chris Voss’ “Never Split the Difference” is the right choice. Nevertheless, if Harvard is your negotiation approach, then this will help with approaching difficult negotiation partners.