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Dan Shapiro; arguing; conflict resolution; arguments

Harvard negotiator teaches you how to argue.

Conflict is something that most people don't like. It can easily escalate into an argument, tempers can get flared and feelings hurt. But it doesn't have to be that way. Dan Shapiro, a Harvard negotiator, demonstrates how to argue effectively in a new insightful four-minute video.

The video covers three keys to an effective argument that can leave the other party feeling heard, validated and understood. This may all sound like some sort of magic trick, but the man has got some solid points, especially as it seems like people's ears stop working when someone disagrees with them.


Immediately in the video, Shapiro states that he personally doesn't feel comfortable around conflict, which is kind of surprising since his job is negotiation. I'm not sure if everyone has seen how negotiations work but sometimes the exchange can get pretty heated. Don't worry, he goes on to explain how conflict can actually be pretty helpful. The professor talks about how America has fallen into a "tribal trap" where you disbelieve and discredit everything someone with opposing views says.

Shapiro discusses people's need to be right at all costs and to shut the other person's view down—which isn't a helpful strategy. He starts naming the secrets to effective negotiations or in this case, arguments. Identity, appreciation and affiliation are the three big things he breaks down to build a solid ground for respectful and understanding disagreements.

The professor addresses the emotion behind identity and how it relates to core values, which immediately helps set the tone for understanding how disagreements escalate. Watch Shapiro break it all down below and be sure to take notes if you also have trouble with conflict.

Photo: Jason DeCrow for United Nations Foundation

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