Dale Carnegie’s Advice on How To Be Liked At Work… Let’s Change The World By Following It

By Cory Davis

In November, 2020, I read and reviewed Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Win Friends and Influence People“. It was so inspiring and impactful that I thought it would be a great idea to share some of the advice from it here. In this post, I will share two priciples from “How to Win Friends and Influence People” to be liked at work and in your daily life.

It may be impossible to get everyone you meet to like you. However, what you can do is increase the likelihood that they will? One method noted by Dale Carnegie in his book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” is to “make the other person feel important and do it sincerely”. So how do you do this, and why is it a good tool to bring to work?

How to make the other person feel important and do it sincerely

First ask yourself, “what is it about that individual that you can truly and honestly admire?”. If you cannot identify something, then be creative. I am sure you can find something you admire about almost anyone if you approach the situation with the mindset that everyone has a unique quality and untapped potential. Brainstorm things about people that you can admire:

  • Fashion sense
  • Work ethic
  • Positive attitude
  • Knowledgeable in a particular area
  • Their personal interests
  • A book they are reading
  • Some life experience they have
  • Advice they gave
  • A report they wrote

After you found something that you can genuinely admire about that person, tell them. It may be increasingly more difficult with strangers, but even try saying something like “your workmanship is only exceeded by your contagious smile”. A compliment is a good way to make that person feel important.

Next, if you can, be sincere by turning the compliment into some kind of action. For example, if you are a manager and communicating to an employee, giving someone responsibility followed by a compliment can go a long way to boosting their confidence in themselves and you as a confidant. For example, say “I would feel so much more secure if you managed this [important task] because you are clearly qualified [list qualifications; organized, sharp, knowledgeable, etc…]”.  By doing this, you may avoid any feelings that you are singling them out. For example, an employee may feel like you are picking on them by giving them an additional workload. The point is to make them feel important by taking the project, explicitly state that leaving no room for uncertainty or miscommunication.

Most importantly, this gesture needs to be sincere and authentic. Do not use this as a trick or hack. If you state their qualifications and they are not something that has been demonstrated or communicated to you, then your dishonesty will be made clear. Not only does it show off your dishonesty, but it may make the other person feel used while demonstrating an irresponsible level of disregard for them. If you state their qualification, be sure you can back it up. You can back it up through their resume, previous jobs they held, or better yet, work/training they have done for your organization and the aspirations or goals they shared with you.

Getting someone to like you instantly could even be as easy as just acknowledging something they do as interesting, or making their opinions feel legitimate and recognized. You as a colleague, a peer, or manager, can get people to like you by acknowledging their feedback or opinions on business matters. Listen to them and compliment the good points.

Remember, this quote:

Praise is like sunlight to the warm human spirit; we cannot flower and grow without it. And yet, while most of us are only ready to apply to others the cold wind of criticism, we are somehow reluctant to give our fellow the warm sunshine of praise.
– Jess Lair, Psychologist.

Remember to Smile When it’s Worth Smiling

Another principle mentioned by Dale Carnegie is so simple that we often overlook its impact, just smile. A smile they say is worth a thousand words, but a sincere and genuine one says that you are friendly, warm, kind, non-judgemental and approachable.

As Dale Carnegie proclaims:

The expression one wears on one’s face is far more important than the clothes one wears on one’s back”.

So, whatever you do, give people a smile. It doesn’t hurt to try.


These tidbits of advice do not only benefit you. It can benefit others as well. They may return the sentiment to others. Your smile could lead to a hundred more. Your compliment could lead to 100 more. If more people behaved this way, undoubtedly, we would be making our world a better place to live. How simple is that?

If you enjoyed this read, please subscribe to my blog, give it a like or follow me on Twitter @interestpeaks. I found this content interesting. But I am more interested in what your thoughts, opinions or advice are. If you have any thoughts, ideas, or feedback, please share them in the comments section below. I would love to hear them.

Engaging the System: Tapping into Diversity

By Cory Davis

In a previous post, I discussed tips and tools for engaging teams. Now, I would like to discuss some tips and thoughts about how to engage the system at work.

As always, I want to give credit where it is due. This blog post is inspired by Bob Chartier’s “Handcrafted Leadership” (2015) about the art of facilitation and engagement. If you are interested in the tips and tools that I share with you here, please check out his book.

Engaging the System

What do I mean when I say “the System”? I mean everyone at your organization. Not just your team or department. The system refers to all available departments or employees. The idea of engaging the system is designed to tap into different perspectives from all available angles or viewpoints.

There is power in numbers and diversity. Interesting ideas, stories, and knowledge stored in the system can spur innovation and creative problem solving if you can dig it out. By opening yourself up to data burried in the system, you can get a broader range of perspectives to address challenges and tackle problems.

Bob Chartier gave an example that resonated with me, demonstrating the value of diversity in problem solving. The operations department at an energy company in northern Canada regularly incurred massive damages to its powerlines in one particular area due to snow piling up on the lines that underwent melting and freezing. This was very expensive for the company. Furthermore, it created a dangerous and harsh work environment for repair crews. One employee from the health and safety department shared a story about her previous job in Vietnam. She worked at a hospital where helicopters regularly caused harsh drafts, which caused problems for them. Would flying a helicopter to blow the snow off the powerlines right after it snowed help? Yes, it would… and it saved the company a fortune.

The point here is to engage the entire company, community, or organization. However, engaging such a large audience can be tricky. Without a carefully designed approach handy, it can become a daunting task. There are too many large meetings designed around a problem, issue or task that result in no tangible deliverables.

That is why I wanted to share two facilitation tools from Bob Chartier’s “Handcrafted Leadership” to engage the system:

1. The Open Space

This is not your traditionally structured company meeting, with a power-point, strict agenda and formal seating. It is designed around the idea of a “Town Hall”, where everyone’s voice will be heard. The Open House is a themed meeting. It could be about a policy, new idea, or a problem that needs to be solved.

Design the meeting space to be in circles around the center of the room where your facilitator will be at the beginning. Have everyone introduce themselves and state what they think should be on the agenda. The boss will not create the agenda, the particpants will.

Once the agenda is created, post each agenda item around the conference room with an attendee, perhaps someone who came up with it. Then participants will be split into “pods” of 3-5 people who can wander freely to talk about the agenda items together. Each pod will generate ideas, recommendations or solutions for each agenda item. Give them a template to document them. You dont need to limit participation to employees, you can also invite partners or other stakeholders as well.

2. The World Café

This is a fairly common tool with lots of material online about it. Unlike the Open Space which is generative (creating ideas, solutions, etc.), the World Café is responsive. It is designed to elicit reactions from participants to a speaker’s presentation, new ideas, policies, challenges, a presentation, or new information. It is also a good chance to spur innovation and share knowledge, that you can put into action.

The World Café consists of three elements:

  1. The presentation or talk. This will provide the audience with information.
  2. The Conversation. Get everyone talking about the presentation. It will consist of a host at each table to faciliate a conversation between 3-4 people. Set a time limit for each group, then get them to switch tables about 3-4 times. Have a different theme for each round of conversations. For example, the first round can just debrief the presentation. The second round could be about ideas and questions. The third round could try to uncover the deepest unanswered questions.
  3. The Response. Questions that result from the conversation will be gathered and the speaker or other audience members can answer them in the format of a talk show.

This is a great tool to engage an audience after a presentation. We are all sick of sitting through a presentation to only have a few questions answered before particpants have a chance to discuss them or let the material sink in. The audience members will generate much higher quality questions after they have conversations about it.


The above are just two facilitation tools you can use to engage the system. If you are ot familiar with facilitation tools like the ones mentioned here, please check out the plethora of free facilitation resources online, or better yet, read Bob Chartier’s “Handcrafted Leadership”. One resource that I love found free online is the Institute for Innovation and Improvement’s Facilitator Toolkit.

This post was intended to create a dialogue about engaging the system. There is so much to be gained by opening up to the diverse perspectives deep within the system that can enable us to attack problems, or generate ideas from a wide range of angles. With the right approach, you can engage the system in an organized, effective and time-efficient way.

Thank you so much for visiting my blog and reading my post. If you enjoyed it, please subscribe, give it a like, or follow me on Twitter @interestpeaks.

I found this topic interesting. However, I would be much more interested to hear your thoughts, opinions, ideas, questions, or criticisms. If you would like to share, please do so in the comment section below. I promise to read all comments you post here.

Engaging Teams at Work

In a previous post, I discussed tips and tools for engaging individuals at work. Now, I will discuss how to engage teams at work.

As always, I want to give credit where it is due. This blog post is inspired by Bob Chartier’s “Handcrafted Leadership” (2015) about the art of facilitation and engagement. If you are interested in the tips and tools that I share with you here, please check out his book.

It is clear that engaging individuals has significant benefits in terms of productivity and morale, but we still cannot ignore engagement on the other layers of an organizations structure.

Bob Chartier highlights in his book “Handcrafted Leadership” the need to engage people in organizations on the following levels:

  1. Individuals
  2. Teams
  3. The System

Engaging Teams

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What do you think about when you hear “engaging teams”? We often think about team engagement as team building activities such as a two-hour meeting, a team-building session, the old close your eyes, fall back and let others catch you technique, or a team-building course. That is the traditional mental model of team building.

Those activities may have a degree of effectiveness. However, as our understanding grows about team dynamics, we will need to shift our mental model about what team building is. For example, we now recognize that there are major benefits of building a culture within teams through continuous engagement, not necessarily one offs here or there.

There are benefits of one-off team building activities though. As Alan Loy McGinnis (late psychotherapist) in his book “Bringing out the Best in People” identifies, one technique to create high morale in teams is to “plan occasions for people to be away together”. He asserts that there is an interesting phenomenon observed by sending teams away out of their usual environment. They become more creative, open to new ideas and tend to form strong bonds rather quickly. So, sending them off for a few days together to a resort with planned activities, or a conference or something like that is an excellent tool to build team comradery.

As effective as this type of one-off is, it is just one tool within a suite of techniques to engage your team. Regular engagement with teams to build a culture of excellence, in addition to Alan Loy McGinnis’ advice, has proven to be effective for both its development and maintenance.

Bob Chartier recommends several tools for continuous engagement of teams which will be discussed below.

Tools to Engage Teams

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  1. The Daily Stand-Up Meeting. This tool is not time consuming and should occur daily at a scheduled time. The time you choose may depend on your team or the type of work you do. Mornings will work well with highly structured and organized workloads. However, if it is not highly structured then employees may not know exactly what their day will look like. In that case, this type of meeting may be best scheduled in the early or late afternoon. Everyone on the team stands around so they can see each other. Each person will have 1-2 minutes each to say how they are doing and what they are up to that day. This is also a good opportunity to disseminate information, give praise or congratulations, and get to know your employees personally. Not only does this tool engage teams, but it gives the leader an excellent opportunity to keep their fingers on the pulse on the team, the lives of individuals within it, and to observe team dynamics.
  2. The One-Hour Meeting Space/ Preventative Maintenance. Arrange for a one-hour meeting time in a quiet, comfortable space once a week, month, quarter or even year. This time is intended for good conversations. Make this meeting a ritual and make it mandatory. Bring snacks. This is not intended to be a time for brainstorming, problem solving or working on core-work duties. Just facilitate meaningful and rich conversation about what is going on. Again, this is an opportunity for you as a leader to get to know your team, but also for the group to develop bonds.
  3. The Team Charter. The team charter is not something set in stone, it can be continually revised. It is a conversation about how a team will get work done effectively. Too often we focus on the “what”, this is a document about the “how”. It may not translate to a document, but the most important thing about it is the conversation. It is a conversation about how the team wants and needs each other to work together to get things done effectively with excellence. The team charter should be viewed as a work activity, not an activity for your retreat or team-building sessions. It is work – not play and needs to be approached with that mentality.

Engaging Teams Remotely

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While you can use the above tools remotely over some video conferencing service, the dynamic of teams will have changed. Many of our leaders are weary of remote work, telework agreements and the lack of direct contact with people. There are many benefits of providing remote work options to your employees which deserves its own post here. But we have now been forced to work remotely due to the pandemic. It is unfortunate and sad that many organizations were not prepared for working remotely due to their insecurities about it.

Luckily, Simone Sloan from Forbes shed some light on how to engage teams remotely in an article found here.

  1. Trust. Your employees need to feel like you trust them. If you are a leader ho tends to micromanage and limit the creativity of your staff, you may need to reflect on how effective this leadership style can be while working remotely. Your team now desperately needs that feeling of autonomy to get their work done. Micromanagement can undermine that sense of trust. If you dont trust them, can they trust you?
  2. Set Boundaries but Provide Flexibility. Providing flexibility in how they work can help secure and maintain team motivation.
  3. Connect with Your Team Daily. This is a bit of advice that is not necessarily about how much you connect, but rather ensuring regular quality connections. You can use the stand-up tool here, or get more creative, encourage team members to share their experiences and show their personalities – make it fun. Good motivators know the importance of knowing their team on a personal level. There is no one sure-fire way to motivate all. Motivation plans need to be personalized, so keep your fingers on the pulse on individuals as well as the team. This connection will serve several functions. But importantly, some people will struggle more than others with remote work. There will be varying degrees of stress and discomfort. Humans are social creatures. Creating a connection with people can reduce that discomfort of isolation.
  4. Show Confidence in Your Team – Expect Greatness. People need to feel safe where they work and that includes at home too. Your team needs to feel confident without excess fear-induced stress about negative consequences. If you are not confident, then build confidence. You can do this be jointly creating expectations and goals together. It shows that you respect your team by including them in the process.
  5. Provide Regular Feedback. People desperately want feedback. It lets them know that their work is acknowledged. It also gives them a chance to be recognized and improve.
  6. Watch Your Emotions. We are all stressed out about the pandemic. The last thing your employees need is a Negative Nancy leading their team. This can be very demoralizing.
  7. Let People Be Themselves. Create an inclusive environment, where people can provide value and have fun while working without feeling like they are walking on eggshells – they need the freedom to be themselves. The moment you provide negative reinforcement for people being themselves is the moment you endanger their individuality. Threatening one’s individuality is offensive, heart-breaking and devalues that person at their core. People want to be part of a cohesive team, but we need our individuality to be valued, not punished.


This post was intended to open a discussion about how to engage teams. In conclusion, keep connected with your team, respect them as people, stay positive, and never waiver on your high standard of excellence. There is an art to maintaining excellence without damaging team morale. Be tactful, inclusive, and open to acknowledging and tapping into the potential of your staff, remotely or otherwise.

Thank you so much for visiting my blog and reading my post. If you enjoyed it, please subscribe, give it a like, or follow me on Twitter @interestpeaks.

I found this topic interesting. However, I would be much more interested to hear your thoughts, opinions, ideas, questions, or criticisms. If you would like to share, please do so in the comment section below. I promise to read all comments you post here.

Engaging Individuals at Work

In my previous post “Why Employee Engagement Should be a Priority“, I highlighted the relationship between productivity and engagement, among other benefits.

In this post, I will share with you some tools and tips for engaging individuals. Stay tuned for posts in the near future about engaging teams, engaging the system, and engaging accountability.

As always, I want to give credit where it is due. This blog post is inspired by Bob Chartier’s “Handcrafted Leadership” (2015) about the art of facilitation and engagement. If you are interested in the tips and tools I share with you here, please check out his book.

How to Engage Individuals

First, acknowledge that engagement is a priority and disengagement is a problem. If you are not convinced of this, then read my blog post “Why Employee Engagement Should be a Priority“.

Second, identify behaviours that indicate disengagement. This will help you prioritize your time. Forbes Human Resource Council (2018) identified 12 signs that your employee is disengaged. Here are a few signs that may indicate disengagement:

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  1. Withdrawl. Disengaged employees tend to withdraw from activities, conversations, communities of practice, social gatherings, non-essential meetings and side-of-the-desk projects. They tend to do the minimum to get by, limiting their productivity.
  2. Poor Communication. Disengaged employees tend to limit their participation in meetings, debriefs, one-on-one’s, and sharing their feedback, opinions, ideas, or problems.
  3. Silence. Disengaged employees tend to not talk a lot in meetings, calls, one-on-one’s, performance reviews or just in general. This may be glaringly obvious if they started out talkative and positive but over time became less so. This is a sign of disempowerment also. Remember, relationships – possibily – action. If someone is not engaged, your possibilities diminish.
  4. Exhaustion, Cycnicism and Inefficiency. Disengaged employees may result from extended burnout. They may simply have lacked the tools to preserve their mental and physical well-being during periods of intense work-load, or lacked the support or soical structure to accommodate it.

Once you identified individuals who exhibit disengagement, prioritize them in your engagement efforts. So how do you engage individuals? Karlyn Borysenko (2019) at Forbes highlights four ways to engage employees.

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  1. Be Transparent. Do not give your employees half-truths, they will begin to recognize to take what you say with a grain of salt. Be honest if you identify a problem with engagement at your workplace, but also highlight any positives.
  2. Get Your Employees Involved. Have individuals commit to a few actions they can take to improve engagement at the workplace.
  3. Check in with People. Talk to individuals, get their feedback and dont be a stranger.
  4. Create Measures for Continuous Improvement. You want to have a culture of engagement, which may take a continuous effort that needs monitoring.

So the above are all good general measures, or tips for engaging employees. However, there are engagement tools you should place in your toolbox to get results. Bob Chartier’s “Handcrafted Leadership” provides several tools to help you engage individuals.

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  1. The One-On-One Conversation. This tool gives disengaged employees your time, letting them know that you are interested in them. As noted in Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, let them do most of the talking, practice active listening, and give encouragement. Find out things about them such as what is going on in their life, remember their wife and kids names, find out their hobibies and their interests. Use this information to let them know that you are genuinely interested in them in your one-on-one’s. Create a personal-confidential profile for each emploeyee if you need help remembering facts about them.
  2. Reward Good Behaviour. Remember BF Skinners seminal work in psychology on rewards and punishment. Behaviours change more effectively and efficiently when rewarding good behaviours, rather than punishing bad behaviours. So spend your energy rations on rewarding good behaviour. You will find it less emotionally draining and it will result in a more positive environment.
  3. The Feedback Tool. Remember that employees crave feedback. If you are a manager or a supervisor, then remember to regularly give feedback. It lets the person know that their work is acknowledged. But prior to giving feedback, let them give themselves feedback first. They may criticize their own work for you, allowing you to focus on more positives. Then you can acknowledge their their self-awareness and give them advice or encouragement for improvement.
  4. 12-Minute Tool. Set aside 12 minutes every day at a designated consistent time to have conversations with employees that need to be re-engaged. Go to the coffee room or other visible space and encourage conversations with those that need it most. This time should be spent asking the employees what they are working on, challenges they are facing or successes they had.


These are just a few tips and tools for engaging individuals in the workplace. If you are interested in engaging teams, the system and accountability, then stay tuned!

Thank you so much for visiting my blog and reading my post. If you enjoyed it, please subscribe, give it a like, or follow me on Twitter @interestpeaks.

I found the material here interesting. However, I would be much more interested to hear your thoughts, opinions, ideas, questions or criticisms. If you would like to share, please do so in the comment section below. I promise to read all comments you post here.

Why Employee Engagement Should be a Priority

What is engagement?

What does it mean to be engaged? Microsoft Workplace Insights provides a clear, simple definition that resonates with me:

“People want to come to work, understand their jobs, and know how their work contributes to the success of the organization.”

The Harvard Business Review defines higher employee engagement as:

“The strength of the mental and emotional connection an employee feels toward their workplace, [which] has many positive benefits — including reduced stress, improved health and job satisfaction, as well as increased productivity, job retention, and profitability.”

The Problem

While reading Bob Chartier’s “Handcrafted Leadership” (2015), I found some painfully disappointing statistics. Other studies and polls reached similar results. The Gallup polling company surveyed almost 1.5 million employees across various sectors and found this:

  • Only 28% of employees feel engaged at work
  • A whopping 54% of employees do not feel fully engaged, meaning that they are compliant, not fully checked out, but lack passion or drive
  • A disheartening 17% were actively disengaged from their workplace

This pains me a great deal. How much more productive could we be if we were able to get those fully engaged at work up to 50%, or 70%, or 100%? How much is our GDP, our communities, our businesses, and future generations impacted by our lack of engagement?

Check out these facts from the Gallup Poll:

  • Organizations with high levels of engagement have a 22% higher level of productivity as those with low engagement
  • Organizations with high levels of engagement have double the success rate as those with low levels of engagement
  • Organizations with high levels of engagement have lower staff turnover and absenteeism
  • Organizations with high levels of engagement have higher quality of work and fewer workplace safety incidents

Think about all the potential that is locked away due to a lack of engagement. These are truly dismal times. Our workplaces are not engaged and it impacts everyone to the detriment of society.

Have you ever felt unengaged at work? If you have, you may have felt bored, burned out, or like your potential was not being fully tapped or acknowledged. This is a major tragedy – that most people, the vast majority, feel this way. You are not alone, and you are not powerless.


Do something about it. Get people engaged by thinking and talking together. Talk to management and your colleagues to ask how you can help engage others. Start a community of practice on engagement. Support heath and wellness at the workplace, get people out for lunbreak walks, have a potluck or BBQ and invite everyone, or start a company sports team. Talk to other people, ask for their opinions, ask them what they are up to at work, encourage people, appreciate and recognize their work, and ensure your colleagues have a chance to share their knowledge and experiences. Create a culture of sharing, relationships and knowledge transfer.

As recommended by Bob Chartier in “Handcrafted Leadership” (2015), engage your workplace on four levels:

  1. Engage individuals
  2. Engage teams
  3. Engage the system
  4. Engage accountability

If you are interested, in the near future I will write some key highlights and tools to consider when you are planning your engagement activities. So, keep your eyes open for that.

In the meantime, check out the Harvard Business Review’s discussion on how to build employee engagement here: https://hbr.org/2019/11/making-work-less-stressful-and-more-engaging-for-your-employees and Microsoft Workplace Insights’ discussion on productivity and engagement here: https://insights.office.com/productivity/employee-engagement-does-more

Thank you so much for reading my post. If you liked it, please subscribe to my blog, give it a like and follow me on Twitter @interestpeaks.

As always, I appreciate comments. Please share your thoughts, questions or opinions it will make for very engaging dialogue.

Your Practice and the Power of Community of Practice

This article was inspired by Bob Chartier’s book “Handcrafted Leadership” published in 2015 by Doghouse Publishing.

Your job is not just your core work duties outlined in your job description. Most of us have something we do at work that goes beyond that. Maybe you are an expert in some area, have an on-going side-of-the-desk project, or are working with others to resolve some issue. This is a practice.

We all should have a side-of-the-desk practice, or better yet a community of practice. If your goal is to improve your leadership abilities, then develop a leadership community of practice. Anyone can have a leadership practice, you can lead from wherever you are, whenever you can help. All you have to do is ask “can I help?”.

The traditional way of doing things was to put together a committee. A Leadership Committee, a committee on process improvement, a committee on standards, etc. But these tools may be outdated. A relic of the “old boys club” days.

Committees have challenges, they are bureaucratic, energy intensive, and non-inclusive as membership is restricted. Whereas a community of practice is entrepreneurial, creates energy and is all-inclusive, no restriction on membership.

The practice and community of practice therefore is a valuable tool to effect change, self-improvement and empowerment.

So what are some ideas for communities of practice at your workplace?

  • Social Media
  • Writing
  • Leadership
  • Mapping & GIS
  • Union work
  • Workplace Engagement
  • Workplace Fitness and Wellness
  • Public Speaking
  • Relationship Building
  • Event Planning
  • Volunteering
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Facilitation
  • Marketing
  • Mathematics
  • Trend analysis
  • etc…

Try this. Next time you have a goal, aspiration, side of the desk project or something, create a community of practice with others who share the same passion.

Remember, there is power in relationships. Relationships – Possibility – Action. Having a community may uncover benefits and possibilities you could not realize on your own.

Thank you so much for visiting my blog and reading this post. But those are just my thoughts. I think it would be more interesting to hear yours. If you have any thoughts, opinions, questions or ideas, please share them in the comments below.

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Principled Negotiation

This article uses the book “Getting to Yes” by Roger Fisher, William Ury and Bruce Patton of the Harvard Negotiation Project to outline what the Principled Negotiation Method is and why you should conider using it.

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What is Negotiation?

According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, to negotiate means to “confer with another so as to arrive at the settlement of some matter”. Each side of the negotiation table is there to get what they want. Whether you are suing, being sued, making a business deal, deciding on where to eat or what movie to watch. We all are negotiators, whether or not you are cognizant of it.

What is Principled Negotiation?

Principled negotiation is a method of negotiation that emphasizes collaborative decision making, rather than haggling or bargaining. The principled negotiation method also provides tools that may be useful for conflict resolution, mediation, facilitation, and other interpersonal communications as well.

The authors of “Getting to Yes” (2011) offer principled negotiation as an alternative to hard and soft negotiation, which both have drawbacks addressed by this method.

Hard Negotiators view each negotiation scenario as a battle of wills where the side with an extreme position who can hold out the longest wins. They come to the table with a goal to win the battle. However, this approach is heavy on resources, and even heavier on relationships.

Soft Negotiators try very hard to avoid personal conflict, making it much easier to reach an agreement. However, it is emotionally draining for them, often left feeling exploited and bitter.

Principled negotiation uses both hard and soft tactics. It is hard on merits, but soft on people. It looks for mutual gains, and where conflicting interests are identified, objective or independent third-party standards are used to reconcile them.

What is the Problem with Bargaining Over Positions?

The authors of “Getting to Yes” assert that your method of negotiation should be assessed using three criteria:

  1. It should produce wise agreements (meets both party’s interests, fair, durable, takes community into account)
  2. It should be efficient
  3. It should improve (or at least not damage) the relationship between participants

The authors argue that bargaining over positions produces unwise outcomes, is inefficient and endangers on-going relationships. Whereas principled negotiation does not.

Arguing over positions produces unwise outcomes because it locks you or the other party into a position. The more you are forced to defend or clarify a position, you make it more concrete, locking yourself in deeper.

Arguing over positions is inefficient because it creates incentives to delay settlement. It compels people to threaten, stonewall or use other shady negotiation tactics that prolong reaching an agreement. Furthermore, if any one party comes to the table with an extreme initial position, the more time it will take to meet somewhere more reasonable.

Arguing over positions is hard on relationships as negotiation tends to be a battle of wills. Solving problems becomes adversarial, rather than collaborative. This can fuel feelings of anger and resentment on either side as they flexibly bend their position to meet the other side’s ridged wall, while their own interests go unaddressed.

Principled negotiation uses four main focus points to address these criteria:

  1. Separate people from the problems: Practice how to address problems without attacking or putting down the other person.
  2. Focus on interests, not positions. Positions are a good tool because they tell the other side what you want. But don’t make this the focus. Focus on the interests and collaborate together to find solutions that meet both sides. Here you will find innovation, and relationship building opportunities.
  3. Invent multiple options that have mutual gains before making a decision.
  4. Insist that the decision-making process use objective or agreed upon third party standards


If you are interested in the principled negotiation method, read my review for “Getting to Yes” or better yet, buy and read the book!

Thank you so much for visiting my blog and reading this article. As always, I would love to hear your thoughts, questions, ideas or opinions in the comments below.