Improvisational Negotiation: A Mediator's Stories of Conflict About Love, Money, Anger and the Strategies That Resolved Them / Edition 1

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Everyone agrees that a good story can make a point simply,effectively, and memorably. In this groundbreaking book, pioneerattorney and mediator Jeffrey Krivis shows how fascinating andinspirational stories can illuminate the process of conflictresolution and teach us how to help people reach a successfulsettlement.

Improvisational Negotiation presents an original approach formediators, negotiators, and other dispute resolution professionals.Drawing on his own experience plus those of his colleagues, JeffreyKrivis offers the reader dramatic, well-crafted, and highlyinstructive stories about people in conflict—families,organizations, corporations—and shows how mediatednegotiations help them to reach a successful resolution.

Unlike most books on the topic, Improvisational Negotiation doesnot focus on theory, philosophy, or formulaic procedures. The bookhighlights entertaining true stories that illuminate the skills andtools a good mediator uses to direct a successful negotiation andthen asks the questions, What happened? and What strategies can welearn?

Krivis includes stories about personal and business disputes, aswell as conflicts about money and strategy. Each story includes abrief discussion of what went right (and sometimes wrong) in thescenario and contains information on the specific techniqueshighlighted in the case.

Improvisational Negotiation also includes a special section onadvanced mediation techniques such as how to get a stallednegotiation back in motion, recognize the key turning points in acase, and utilize dramatic opportunities for a breakthrough.

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
"Every person interested in becoming a better negotiator ormediator must read this book. Krivis’s extensive experienceas one of the most successful professional mediators in Californiamakes him eminently qualified to offer instruction and guidance inthe art of making deals. His format of case studies followed byinsightful analysis makes this book so entertaining that the readeralmost loses sight of all that he is learning. Reading this bookwill make you a better negotiator, mediator, problem solver, andperson."
—Peter Robinson, acting director and associate professor, StrausInstitute for Dispute Resolution, Pepperdine University School ofLaw 

"Krivis’s insightful stories illustrate not only thetechniques of a masterful mediator but also the complexity of humanconflict. Mediators seeking to expand their toolbox will find thisbook invaluable."
—David Hoffman, chair, American Bar Association Section on DisputeResolution

"Must reading for anybody interested in finding creative ways toresolve complex disputes. A practical guide based on real-worldexperience to avoid the courtroom."
—Kenneth Feinberg, head, 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund

"These candid accounts of the unstructured world of mediationare thought-provoking, entertaining, alarming, compelling,instructive, and extremely helpful. The quirky characters, thestartling facts, and the deeply human decision-making processes inthese stories will resonate with every experienced mediator. Byinviting readers to sit next to the mediator as these storiesunfold, Jeff Krivis has done an enormous service to the field ofdispute resolution."
—Michael Moffitt, associate professor and associate director,Appropriate Dispute Resolution Center, University of Oregon Schoolof Law

"Jeff is a mediator who cares deeply about his craft, and everypage of this book shows it. It deserves to be read by allprofessional mediators who aspire to his level of excellence, bylawyers who advise clients in the mediation process, and also bystudents of human nature. His stories are full of warmth and thecharacters skillfully drawn. The insights into negotiation theoryare profound."
—Tony Willis, Brick Court Chambers, London, England

"The reason this book is so important is because it allows thereader to feel and sense what the mediation of conflict is reallyabout. Beyond technique, at core, the success of a mediator is hisor her authenticity—that’s not necessarily the same ashonesty and goes beyond mere empathy—it is the ability to connectand develop an essential level of trust with the parties.That’s why Krivis has been so successful in his mediationpractice and it’s what permeates through his words andstories. Every mediator, novice or advanced, practicing in any areaof conflict management, would reap great benefit from reading thisbook."
—Robert Benjamin, senior mediator, Mediation and ConflictManagement Services, Portland, Oregon

"All conflicts are an alchemy of strong emotions, deep hurts,great perils. Always, there is the prospect of finding somethingbigger and transformational around the corner if we can find ourway through it. Krivis shows us the way. A skilled mediator andmaster communicator, he demonstrates the patient power of story asa strategy for overcoming anger, pain, and sadness. More important,he renews hope that all of us can do the same when we are dealingwith our own problems or helping others with theirs."
—Peter S. Adler, president, The Keystone Center

"Improvisational Negotiation is a road map to mediationingenuity. It inspires us all to be creative and persistent inseeking resolution."
—Richard Chernick, managing director, JAMS ArbitrationPractice

"Improvisational Negotiation is a must-read for allmediators. Jeff Krivis, a world-class mediator, brings the readerinto the conference room and provides amazing insights that areboth practical and useful. This wonderful book is like attending asuperior advanced mediation training in the comfort of your livingroom."
—Eric Galton, mediator and author, Lakeside Mediation Center,Austin, Texas

"Jeff Krivis has once again demonstrated why he is one of thepremier mediators in the world by writing an easy-to-read yetsophisticated treatment of what actually happens in mediation. Thepost-story sections of ‘What Happened?’ and ‘WhatStrategies Can We Learn?’ are helpful for practitioners fromthe novice to the master levels. The conversational tone, ratherthan a research approach with footnotes and case authority, isrefreshing yet is still an invaluable way of telling themediator’s story!"
—Robert A. Creo, founding member and past president, InternationalAcademy of Mediators

"After decades of negotiating and mediating some of the toughestcases around, Jeff Krivis has written a book explaining how he getsthe job done. Well-written and entertaining, this is a book everylawyer should read."
—Richard H. Friedman, trial lawyer and author of Rules of theRoad, Proving Liability in Bad Faith and Other ComplexCases

"This is a valuable and accessible resource for anyoneinterested in knowing about commercial mediation. And it is fun toread."
—Arlen Gregorio, Gregorio, Haldeman & Piazza, MediatedNegotiations

"Without compromising the mystical interaction of human touchwith high skill, Krivis delivers a treasure trove of methods todiscover the ‘art of the deal.’"
—Tracy Allen, trainer and private mediator

"Jeff Krivis’s stories of masterful mediation are perfectfor promoting the kind of moment-to-moment creativity thatcharacterizes the great mediatorsand the great jazzmusicians. For mediators at any stage of their careers,Improvisational Negotiation is a treasure of illustration,illumination, and inspiration."
—Leonard L. Riskin, C. A. Leedy Professor of Law, University ofMissouri-Columbia School of Law; director, Center for the Study ofDispute Resolution

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780787980382
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 1/23/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.34 (w) x 9.13 (h) x 1.17 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeffrey Krivis has been a successful mediator and a pioneer in the field for fifteen years and has served as the president of the International Academy of Mediators and the Southern California Mediation Association. Krivis is on the board of visitors of Pepperdine Law School and serves as an adjunct professor of law at the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution. In 1993 he received the Dispute Resolution Lawyer of the Year Award. Contact him at his Web site,

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Table of Contents

Foreword (Jim Melamed).



1. Independence Day.

2. Paintball Pranks.

3. Step-by-Step.

4. A Sweet Deal.

5. Reading Minds.

6. Rock Star.

7. Gratitude Is the Attitude.

8. Memories.

9. Working at the Car Wash.

10. Transforming the Journey of Revenge.

11. A “Hats-On” Approach.


12. Liar, Liar!

13. The Handicap.

14. Legally Blind.

15. The Slow Drip.

16. Death Takes a Holiday.

17. If the Shoe Fits . . . .

18. The Staggered Approach.

19. Time-Share.

20. The Silent Mover.

21. A Small Deception.

22. The Laddered Approach.

23. The Confidential Listener.

24. Dropping the Bombshell.

25. Worth the Wait.

26. Creating Value.


27. Too Many Cooks.

28. Bottom-Line Negotiating.

29. The “Fishy Calculator” Method.

30. The Crossover.


About the Author.

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2006

    A Very Entertaining and Resourceful Read

    Mr. Krivis has succeeded in creating a very entertaining and resourceful book that anyone in the conflict resolution arena would find a must read, including attorneys, mediators, claims adjusters, negotiators, human resource personnel, private parties in conflict, and the list could go on and on. I enjoyed the book because it was written with very much detail and specificity in a John Grisham type style, yet at the same time it was very educational and applicable. The material was so good and entertaining that I found myself at the end of each chapter saying, ¿Okay, one more chapter then I¿ll go to bed¿ Then a half hour later, ¿okay, really just one more chapter.¿ Mr. Krivis has shared in this book many valuable tools that I have already applied in my private practice as an attorney and mediator. I can testify that they have tremendously benefitted my clients and my practice. For this reason, I find myself referring to the book weekly and recommending it to my colleagues. Thanks for the great read Mr. Krivis and subsequent enhancement to my practice. This book is a must read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2006

    A Must For Every Mediator and Lawyer Who Wants to Settle Cases

    This book ia a 'must' read for every mediator, would-be-mediator and lawyer who wants to get cases settled! The book is replete with factual scenarios from high-exposure litigated cases to community-related disputes. It provides unique insight into how parties and their counsel behave in mediation and why the mediator's response needs to be empathetic and flexible in order for progress to be made towards settlement. Lawyers can learn how to avoid sabotaging the process through insensitive and heavy-handed advocacy. Even clients may recognize their own situation within the numerous, well presented case studies in the book, and see how their engagement in the process and co-operation with skilled mediators can help find viable options for settlement. Jeff Krivis has graciously used his experience as an outstanding hands-on mediator and educator to write a simply superb work.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2006

    Inside the mind of a master negotiator

    Through the gripping stories contained in this book, the reader gets a rare and highly coveted opportunity to observe the author (an internationally recognized mediator) at work in the most challenging of situations. Jeffrey Krivis, known for his skill and success in breaking through even the most difficult negotiation barriers, shares his techniques and tools for achieving resolution and does so in a fabulously entertaining and heart-warming way through these well written stories. It's a must have for every negotiator or mediator's library.

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