Category Archives: Uncategorized

Trump Gives Negotiation a Bad Name

Over at the Daily Beast I take Donald Trump to task for giving negotiation a bad name. Basically Trump is perpetuating the myth of the adversarial hardball negotiator (one that both social science and common sense have long buried).  To read, click here.

Offend Yourself

I recently joined forces with the Moral Courage project on their “just one question” initiative. My question (inspired by Walt Whitman) is: Can you embrace an idea that you or your friends vigorously disagree with? Now it’s your turn, watch the video and take the challenge.  #OffendYourself

A Picture of Hope, Compassion and Courage

Recently I came across an arresting picture of a frightened Israeli policewoman shielded by two Palestinians during a violent confrontation in the West Bank. The photograph was taken by Shaul Golan and features (among others)  Zakaria Sadah. The potentially iconic image contains a profound truth: it is through acts of extraordinary moral and physical courage, grounded in principles of equality, interdependence, and non-violence that we begin to know justice and peace.


To read my thoughts on the matter, click here.

World Does Not Need a Jewish Ann Coulter

While on the Dr. Drew show, Jewish conservative pundit Ben Shapiro refused to refer to Caitlyn Jenner by her preferred pronoun and deliberately provoked transgender journalist Zoey Tur by asking her, “What are your genetics, sir?” Shapiro went on to say that he refuses to recognize the self-identity of a transgender person because he does not want to “mainstream delusion,” “mental illness,” and support “body mutilation.” In turn, Zoey put her hands on Ben and threatened his life. My open letter in defense of transgender folks. I argue that Shapiro is making the logical is/ought fallacy, however, his “is” (science) is not an is, and his “ought” does not follow. I end by making a moral case for empathy and compassion towards our transgender brothers and sisters.

To read more, click here.

My Interview for upcoming FED talk

On August 28th, conflict resolution and negotiation specialist Roi Ben-Yehuda will be the featured presenter at FED: dinner parties where you are fed by gourmet food, inspirational ideas, and the company and creative energy of your matched dinner companions. The following is an interview conducted between Deborah Fishman (FED founder) and Roi Ben-Yehuda.

To read more, click here.

10 Ways conflict is LIke Sex

Over at Elephant Journal, I debut my first listicle on the 10 ways that conflict and sex are alike.


Conflict is a part of life. The question is not, “Will I experience conflict?” but rather, “How will I manage conflict?”

This semester I decided to end my class on an equally dramatic note. Fleshing out an analogy and some examples from the great social psychologist Morton Deutsch, I told my students that one insight I want them to take away from the class is this: conflict is like sex. After lots of giggles, we explored some of the ways that conflict and sex are alike. Here are the results:

1. Conflict is relational.

While both sex and conflict can be experienced alone—Woody Allen once quipped, “Don’t knock masturbation. It’s sex with someone you love.”—they don’t properly happen unless (at least) two interdependent parties are involved.

2. Multiple Parties Complicate It.

As more parties join a conflict it becomes messier: you have to account for more perspectives, needs and interests.

3. Healthy relationships require it.

Research on relationship resiliency shows that healthy couples are not without conflict, but rather know how to manage it.

4. It’s in your head.

While both sex and conflict have an objective quality to them, a good deal of both activities resides in our heads. The stories we tell transform—for good or ill—the relationships we embody.

5. It often produces anxiety.

Anxiety in conflict often leads to avoidance or an extreme tendency to seek out conflict to prove one’s worth. Anxiety in conflict can also lead to premature resolution (a tendency to solve conflicts too early) or resolution dysfunction (an inability to solve conflicts at all).

6. There’s an overemphasis on positions.

In conflict, we tend to get stuck with our default positions. One of the key lessons in both negotiation and conflict resolution is to go deeper and explore the reasoning behind a person’s position. Looking at people’s interests and needs allows us to come up with multiple options for a given problem.

7. Reading about it is not the same as doing it.

No matter how many books and articles you analyzed or how many in-class simulations you experience, your efforts will be for naught if you do not put your knowledge into practice.

8. Religion complicates it.

Anytime someone declares, “But God says…” in the bedroom, boardroom or war room, you can be certain it’s bad news. Sacred identities and dogmas make compromise extremely difficult. More so if the parties feel threatened.

9. It requires a balanced concern for self and other.

When we approach conflict (and sex) only with concern for ourselves, we make terrible partners. At best, we’ll reach our goals in the short term. But no one will want a long-term relationship with us. On the other hand, if we only have concern for the other, we fail to get our own needs met. Thus, in order to meet our needs and maintain a good relationship, a balance between self and other is required.

10. The best practitioners are flexible in their style.

In conflict, people often develop chronic orientations—approaches to conflict that resist change over time. Some people habitually collaborate, compromise, compete, yield or withdraw. The best practitioners, though, fit the situation and the person they are engaged with.

Conflict and sex are, of course, as interesting in their differences. For example, being even-tempered is not a virtue in sex, while emotional regulation is essential for conflict resolution. Power asymmetries can make resolving some conflicts seemingly impossible, whereas getting dominated by a more powerful and aggressive party can be a turn-on. Conflict is more pervasive within families as without, whereas sex (hopefully) goes in the opposite direction.

And finally, bad sex can lead to bad conflict, whereas passionate conflict can lead to passionate sex.

Book Review: Conflict Meets Power in the Workplace

One of the most consequential blind spots in popular management literature on conflict resolution is the failure to adequately address situations of unequal power. Yet research has demonstrated that power differentials significantly impact the way in which disputants handle conflict. In their book “Making Conflict Work: Harnessing the Power of Disagreement,” Columbia Professor Peter T. Coleman and Psychologist Robert Ferguson seek to address this gap through a theoretically rich, yet surprisingly practical, contribution to the field. Continue reading