By Rama Gaind
PS News Books
Bargaining with the Devil: When to Negotiate, When to Fight
By Robert Mnookin (Scribe, $24.95, softcover, 320 pages)
The book’s red-coloured front cover is a warning: should you really bargain with the devil?
Internationally renowned scholar in conflict resolution Robert Mnookin warns that there is no easy categorical answer. “Sometimes you should bargain with the Devil and other times you should refuse,” he says. “How in particular circumstances should you decide?”
This book shows you how to meet the challenge and make wise decisions.
Anyone you perceive as a harmful adversary is the devil. Disputes can arise in your personal or professional life, but don’t be blinded by the “inescapable tension between achieving justice for past wrongs and the need for resolution”.
Mnookin examines eight high-stakes conflicts where real people – including Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela – had to decide what to do. He not only draws from history, but uses his own professional experience to provide a framework that allows you to decide whether to fight or negotiate with the devil or question whether the other side is the devil.
While the stories can’t capture the full range of situations in which the devil may make an appearance, this leader in the art of negotiation proposes a process to help structure decision-making in emotionally-charged conflict situations.
The first case study of Analtoli Sharansky, the Soviet dissident, reveals just how much of a challenge this conflict of heart-versus-mind poses to a decision-maker; and that’s the intertwining theme through the other cases.
There are no easy answers to this dilemma, but Mnookin’s response to whether you should bargain with the devil is simple: “Not always, but more often than you feel like it”.
These captivating tales illustrate how to approach life’s most difficult disputes - with a dignified purpose.
Bargaining with the Devil is hardly the last word, but Mnookin’s “approach should allow you to think more clearly about how to navigate this terrain with integrity – and wisdom”.
To find out more about Rama Gaind click here.