TradeBriefs Editorial

From the Editor's Desk

To Succeed in a Negotiation, Help Your Counterpart Save Face

What do a human rights negotiation in Afghanistan, a crisis negotiation in Calgary, and a business dispute between a Brazilian and a Frenchman have in common? At first blush, nothing. However, when we dig deeper into these high-stakes negotiations, there is a common thread that connects them all. The concept of face.

What exactly is face? In their classic work on politeness, Penelope Brown and Stephen C. Levinson define face as "the public self-image that every member of a society wants to claim for himself/herself." Put differently, face is how people want to be perceived and connected to identity and dignity. When it comes to negotiation, it is about both sides preserving their and their organizations' reputations.

To understand the critical nature of face to negotiation success, consider the three cases I just mentioned

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