The Art and Heart of Negotiation: Resolving Conflict and Building Agreement with Jason Gore
Money, Mission and Meaning
Mark Michael Lewis

Episode 7 - The Art and Heart of Negotiation: Resolving Conflict and Building Agreement with Jason Gore

In this episode Mark Michael Lewis, CEO of, interviews Jason Gore of about his work helping both small businesses and Fortune 100 companies businesses improve collaboration, communication and negotiation skills. Listen as we uncover the key skills and attitudes of top-level negotiators and the power they provide to build lasting partnership in the face of conflict and competing objectives. Plus, discover the very human motivations that infuse his work, and make him one of the most sought after consultants in the nation.



The Art and Heart of Negotiation: Resolving Conflict and Building Agreement
with Jason Gore

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Mark Lewis: Welcome to Money, Mission and Meaning: Passionate Work, Purpose at Play, where we explore how we can integrate our personal values and personal skills to create pleasure and profit in the business of life. I’m your host, Mark Michael Lewis, CEO of Smart Energy Enterprises Incorporated, C-inc., a beautiful future now. Today’s show focuses on the power and purpose of negotiation, the importance of negotiation and social change and how we can build partnership and collaboration in the face of conflict and challenge. Our guest is Jason Gore, a corporate consultant and trainer, who works with those small businesses and Fortune 100 companies to improve collaboration, communication and negotiation skills. Listen, as we uncover the key skills and attitudes of top-level negotiators and the power they provide to build lasting partnership in the face of conflict and competing objectives. Plus, discover the very human motivations that infuse his work and make him one of the most sought after consultants in the nation. First, a couple highlights from the show:

Jason Gore: Most people enter into conversations trying to say why their way is the best way, why its in your best interest to do x or y. And their speaking from their own perspective, and they might be interested in pleasing you, but their not actually finding out what’s going on in your mind, how are you thinking about the world? There are times when you need to advocate for your interests and you need to make sure that the other person understands what it is that you want to accomplish and take the time and create the process for them to really hear you out.

Mark Lewis: So it seems like basic negotiation skills, that’s kind of what business is all about. You know, we’ve been doing this for lots of years. Why do companies fly you all over the world, literally, to teach them these negotiation skills?

Jason Gore: Well, I definitely used to think it was common sense, and it was about ’98 when I realized that it actually wasn’t common sense. Even though its very, very simple most people don’t have, don’t track conversations in a way that they know where they are inside of a negotiation and know how to consistently produce a result. At the time I was leading a team of about 110 IT professionals, and we had come to a point in the process where we had to make a choice between going in one direction or going in another direction. And the executive that had to make this decision couldn’t seem to get on the same page. And at some point I had people on the bench. So I just had to make a decision and give them a direction even if that wasn’t the direction that was ultimately being taken. But it seemed pretty clear to me by sitting in the room that we were gonna go in that direction. And so I gave the word to say “Okay, we’re gonna go in this direction until we hear from the executives what they want to do” and of course about three hours later I had the executives breathing down my back, going “How could you do this?” And, so when I went into the meeting to answer for my decision I basically went around the room and explained what each person wanted and why this was the best solution for the group. And they pretty much agreed, even though they had been debating this for two or three days and couldn’t come to a solution. After the meeting one of the executives came up and asked me how I knew what I knew about each person. And I said, “I was in the same room you were. What do you mean how did I know? I don’t know anything that you don’t know because you were sitting in the room as well.”
Mark Lewis: Exactly. Don’t you know? I mean, how come you didn’t know?

Jason Gore: And, he looked at me and said, “I have to tell you that no, I didn’t know what everybody else was thinking. In fact I was so caught up in my own world that I had no realization that 80% of the people there wanted the same things that I did. And so, even though it is common sense in a lot of ways because it’s simple, it’s actually not all that common.

Mark Lewis: Common sense that isn’t common, cause everyone’s in their own world. Like, their so concentrating on their values or the fact that someone seems to be saying something that’s not their values and what they want, that they get caught up in that, they don’t listen to what people are wanting or they don’t know how to ask for what people are wanting or their not looking to find mutual solutions, they’re like, trying to get their way or, what is, what is…

Jason Gore: Most people enter into conversations trying to say why their way is the best way, why its in your best way to do x or y, and they’re speaking from their own perspective. They might be interested in pleasing you, but their not actually finding out what’s going on in your mind, how are you thinking about the world and talking to that. There’s a group, I don’t know the exact name of the group, I think it’s the National Association for Organ Donation, that did a study on why some of the people that they had in the field were very effective and why others weren’t. Essentially, what they were doing is they were going out to people that were on their deathbeds and asking those folks and the families about organ donation, and if this loved one died would he be willing to donate their organs. And the results that these folks were having were very, very different. Some people, where their high performing, people were, you’re hitting 70 or 80 percent where people were signing on the dotted line and saying, “Yeah, I’ll donate my relatives organs.” And other people were at the 20, 30 percent mark. So they sent a couple collegues of mine out to find out what was going on, why were some people so effective and some people weren’t, because it seemed like they were all really good at building repertoire, they were very good at explaining the program and why the program was so effective at saving other peoples lives. And yet they were having these very, very different results. And when they boiled it down, the key difference was that one group would explain all the reasons to do this and explain all the reasons why it wasn’t, there was no reason not to do it, and the other group simply asked the question “Why wouldn’t you do this? What’s important to you that you’d be giving up if you did this?” And it turned out that the concerns were ones that they had never thought of. Some of the concerns were “Well, I want to do an open casket funeral and if we donate organs then we can’t do that.” And it turns out that that’s not really a concern because the surgery’s done in a way that is relatively, you wouldn’t see differences

Mark Lewis: Right.

Jason Gore: in the body. The other big concern was one of fairness. A lot of the minority families thought that the organs were gonna go to rich people, and they felt like it wasn’t fair.
Mark Lewis: Interesting.

Jason Gore: So, why would they do that if it wasn’t serving justice?

Mark Lewis: Right.

Jason Gore: Well, it turns out that there’s a lottery system and it doesn’t matter how wealthy you are or what color you are, there’s an equality about how the organs are distributed. And so that concern was quickly resolved. Without asking the basic question “What would stop you? What are you really interested in?”, they would have never found that information out, and that was what was giving them such a high percentage of people that were saying yes.

Mark Lewis: So the people who actually knew the principles of negotiation versus the principles of, you know, just kind of selling and saying, “Okay, well here’s all the reasons why you would, right. I’m gonna kind of put my prefabricated idea of what you should want and I’m gonna tell it to you and then you’ll do it.

Jason Gore: Exactly

Mark Lewis: Right. The people who actually understand negotiation skills go in and ask questions to find out what the other persons values are and find out why they would or wouldn’t do something and then they can directly address the concerns that the actual people have rather than the concerns that they think they have.

Jason Gore: Right.

Mark Lewis: So…

Jason Gore: That’s a big part of their market, there is the opposite side. There are times when you need to advocate for your interests. And you need to make sure that the other person understands what it is that you want to accomplish, and take the time and create the process for them to really hear you out, because if you don’t do that then you’re gonna leave the meeting not getting what you want. So, there is a balance. I think the interesting thing is most people lean one way or the other.

Mark Lewis: Ahhh. So, some people do what we were just talking about, but they don’t go out and actually say what they want, then they leave the table going “Oh, gosh, I lost again.”

Jason Gore: Right.

Mark Lewis: They talk about win-lose or lose-win (laughs).

Jason Gore: Negotiations, right?

Mark Lewis: So some people tend towards win-lose and some people tend towards lose-win, and I suppose you work for win-win solutions, I mean it sounds kind of generic but is that accurate or…

Jason Gore: Win-win means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, so I tend not to use those terms, but I teach a negotiation model that will produce consistent results for the person that I’m teaching them to and part of that model is you want to produce good enough results for the other person that their gonna actually follow through on their commitment, and that the relationship is improved, or at least not hurt. So the goal is to actually have both parties leave the table satisfied, but I want to make sure that the people that I’m teaching are definitely satisfied.

Mark Lewis: Right (laughs). So, perhaps not equally win-win, but certainly win for the people who are involved and win for the other people. One time I heard a definition from a successful negotiation, is that the people who you’ve negotiated with would be willing to enter into a negotiation with you again. So there’s a certain amount of, they feel like their values were honored enough and taken care of enough that they didn’t feel screwed.

Jason Gore: Yeah.

Mark Lewis: Alright.

Jason Gore: You know, when you look at why people walk away from a negotiation table, they typically walk away for one of two reasons. One is because the content, the substance of the relationship, they’re not getting what they want, and so they’d rather go to their alternative. Or, the relationship has been hurt in a way inside of the negotiations that they no longer want to work with you. The challenge is producing a negotiation, producing a conversation that not only creates the content or the substance and produces value in that domain, but also holds the relationship and it doesn’t damage the relationship. Holding that balance is very hard. If you look at the literature back in the ‘70’s, it was all about going into a negotiation and getting the most from the pie, getting 51%, 52%, beating the other side. And that was pretty much a lot of the negotiation material in the 60’s and 70’s had that focus. But if you look at long term relationships, especially in today’s day and age, in the corporate setting you’re doing a lot of outsourcing, you have a lot of negotiation, inside of companies you can’t afford to hurt those relationships. So how can you get just as much substance or content at, in, while your also preserving the relationship. And the key to that is really trying to expand the pie before you divide it. So…

Mark Lewis: Oooh, that’s, that’s sexy. Expand the pie before you even divide it.

Jason Gore: Most people go into negotiation really, really just haggling, trying to divide the pie and if you want to create a collaborative negotiation the goal is to actually find out what the other person cares about, find out what you care about and see everything that you could do together, create a lot of options for how we could work together and see what value you could produce, and then figure out how to divide it up, because I would rather have you know, a smaller chunk of a larger pie, I’d rather have 47% of a very, very large pie than 51% of a very, very small pie.

Mark Lewis: (chuckles) Yeah. So, you go into organizations and you’re gonna do a negotiation training. Who do you work with? What is the, what’s the incentive for these people, what is it that you want them to come away with, such that they become more powerful as managers, as the executives, as organ donor recipient getters (laughs). So, what is it, what is it that you actually do, who do you speak with?

Jason Gore: So typically I work with groups of 20 to 25 people at a time. We can certainly work with a larger audience of 2 to 3 hundred at a time. But for a two-day workshop, really a smaller group creates more relevancy for their lives. And I typically work with middle to upper managers and executives. So these are folks that are either leading teams or working within very high level relationships. So a lot of the challenges that they’re facing is “How do I negotiate with someone, for example another VP, who I don’t have any power over, I can’t tell them, I can’t use coercion to get them to do what I want, but we need to come to an agreement about how our businesses are gonna interact?” I work with a lot of sales folks that are working with high-end clients or outside relationships about how do you work across the boundaries of those organizations to create satisfaction in the clients, and also to negotiate deals, and negotiate resolutions to issues in a way that everybody leaves taken care of. And I also work with executives who are constantly negotiating, they’re negotiating with everybody. But at the same time, I think that although all these skills are very applicable in the corporate world, we’re all negotiating all the time. We’re negotiating with our loved ones about whose gonna cook dinner, we’re negotiating with our kids, we’re negotiating all throughout out our lives. In fact, if you look at most interactions we have with people, there tends to be at least one negotiation in almost every single interaction. “What time are we gonna meet?” That’s a negotiation. So, in terms of what I actually teach them and what the organizations that I work with teach them, we basically teach them a model that allows them to know how to enter into a negotiation effectively, being fully prepared for that negotiation, and a model that know’s where, helps them see where they are at any given moment so that they can manage the conversation to produce the best result. And when things start going south, they know why its going south and they know how to move inside the conversation, to both preserve the relationship, as well as get the negotiation back on track.

Mark Lewis: Mmhmm, so if you were to define negotiation, like what is a basic negotiation frame versus just going in and having the normal conversation that you have when you actually take on the idea “Oh, I recognize that this is a negotiation right?” I’m here with my kid and my kids going “I want to stay up.” Right, and you’re like “No, you’re gonna go to bed. To, you could end that up being an argument where you’re gonna prove to them why they need to do x, y and z, right. Or you can negotiate with them such that again you’re not burning the bridge, you’re not using a sense of power that leaves them where you hurt the relationship, where they don’t want to work on it. What is the mindset of negotiating that you teach people such that they approach things as negotiation rather than an argument?

Jason Gore: When you look at most negotiations that break down, it’s often because people come in with positions, they come in with demands. “This is what I want. I want you to go to bed.” “No, I want to stay up.” “No, I want to go to bed.” And they come, those are positions and what’s behind those positions, why they want what they want we call interests. What are the concerns that you’re trying to take care of, what are the opportunities that you see that you want to take advantage of, what are all those things that you actually want that’s driving you to have that position? Most negotiations actually never even get there because it’s all about positional arguments. Let me tell you a quick story…

Mark Lewis: Okay.

Jason Gore: that’s in the book Getting to Yes, which is the main book that I use to teach negotiation. So, a mom walks into the kitchen and her kids are arguing. Two daughters are fighting over an orange. “I want this orange.” “No, I want this orange. It’s the last orange, you can’t have it.” “No, I want it.” “No, no I was here first.” And the mom put the children aside and asked them to be quiet. She took a knife, she cut the orange in half, and gave half to one child and half to the other. Negotiation solved, right?

Mark Lewis: Yeah, compromise.

Jason Gore: Exactly, and that’s how most people enter negotiations. You see one person have one position, “I want the orange”, the other position have, the other person have another position “I, no, I want the orange” “Eh, lets split the difference.” And that’s typically, that’s a very typical approach to negotiation. Now in this story what happened next was she watched as one child peeled the orange and ate the fruit, exactly like you’d expect. But then she watched the other child peel the orange and she threw out the fruit and started to cut up the peel to make a pie. Now in that case, what one child wanted was the peel of the orange to bake a pie and the recipe required a whole peel, and the other child wanted to eat the fruit, and by resolving this conflict based on their positions more or less half the value of that negotiation was lost because the mom was using the wrong tool. She was resolving the conflict based on their positions, rather than on what was behind their positions, why they actually wanted what they said they wanted.

Mark Lewis: (inaudible) their interests. And so, as you were talking earlier, and its funny that you use pie as an example, right, there’s a, you can either have half of the orange, half of the pie or you could create a bigger pie by shifting from the positions to the interests, and when you shift to the interests, I suppose the more interests you find the more possibility there is for pie and each of them could have had the whole orange essentially. Okay. Great, well we’re about to take a break. When we come back um, I want to continue on this track, this, these nuggets of how you can approach negotiation such that our listeners can actually leave, go home, go to their businesses, work with their managers, work with their employees to really create negotiations that serve their interests and the interests of the relationship, such that they can not only kind of win this particular battle, but continue the relationship such that they can create better negotiations as they move forward. I’m Mark Michael Lewis and I’m speaking with corporate trainer and collaborator facilitator Jason Gore. This is Money, Mission and Meaning, we’ll be right back.

Mark Lewis: Actually this interview got so interesting we went long, so this is the best place to break it in two episodes. We’re gonna stop here tend you the next episode with the three central skills to implement these attitudes that Jason has just described, as well as hearing about how a near-death experience shifted his perspective and work forever. Lets go onto the next episode, and if you want more information on Jason Scott Gore and how you might benefit from his mediation, facilitation or negotiating skills or training go to, that’s j a s o n g o r e dot com. For texts and transcripts of this show and other shows on the Personal Life Media network, please visit our website at I’m your host, Mark Michael Lewis, CEO of Smart Energy Enterprises, C-inc, a beautiful future now. And that brings us to the end of our show. Thanks for listening and join us next week on Money, Mission and Meaning: Passionate Work, Purpose at Play as we interview cutting edge business leaders who are committed to making a positive difference in the world about the motivation and practical ideas that create pleasure and profit in the business of life.


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