Beyond Machiavelli: Tools for Coping With Conflict

Roger Fisher, Elizabeth Kopelman and Andrea Kupfer Schneider

Beyond Machiavelli will appeal to those whose work involves high level negotiations on an international level and to those with a particular interest in foreign affairs. However, most business managers will find this book too much “work” to devote the time necessary to read it cover to cover. Filled with examples of international conflict from the past few decades, it feels a bit dated in our post 9-11 world. And for better or worse, many of us are now so used to books designed for short attention spans (lots of bullet points, short paragraphs and large font size) that the layout of this book lacks visual appeal.
Chapter 4 is the most practical in my opinion. The suggestions on how to conduct brain-storming sessions are sound and easy to implement. The authors, through their work at the Harvard Negotiation Project, developed a checklist “Seven Elements of a Conflict Situation” that is most interesting and clearly has application in business. One of the recommendations found in this chapter is well worth remembering: “Very often, the better the working relationship we have with our adversaries, the better able we are to meet our own interests.” While the idea of keeping your friends close, your enemies closer, is not a new concept, when the relationship is challenging, it’s often tempting to spend our scarce time with those we find more amicable. Sometimes we all need a nudge to deal with the more difficult aspects of our jobs.

Well written and as full of interesting ideas as Beyond Machiavelli is, it’s a book which will only appear to a fairly small segment of the business community.


Written by Helen Latimer 


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