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

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Improvisational Negotiation presents an original approach for mediators, negotiators, and other dispute resolution professionals. Drawing on his own experience plus those of his colleagues, Jeffrey Krivis offers the reader dramatic, well-crafted, and highly instructive stories about people in conflict - families, organizations, corporations - and shows how mediated negotiations help them to reach a successful resolution.

Unlike most books on the topic, Improvisational Negotiation does not focus on theory, philosophy, or formulaic procedures. The book highlights entertaining true stories that illuminate the skills and tools a good mediator uses to direct a successful negotiation and then asks the questions: What happened? and What strategies can we learn?

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
"Every person interested in becoming a better negotiator or mediator must read this book. Krivis’s extensive experience as one of the most successful professional mediators in California makes him eminently qualified to offer instruction and guidance in the art of making deals. His format of case studies followed by insightful analysis makes this book so entertaining that the reader almost loses sight of all that he is learning. Reading this book will make you a better negotiator, mediator, problem solver, and person."
—Peter Robinson, acting director and associate professor, Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution, Pepperdine University School of Law 

"Krivis’s insightful stories illustrate not only the techniques of a masterful mediator but also the complexity of human conflict. Mediators seeking to expand their toolbox will find this book invaluable."
—David Hoffman, chair, American Bar Association Section on Dispute Resolution

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

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

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

"The reason this book is so important is because it allows the reader to feel and sense what the mediation of conflict is really about. Beyond technique, at core, the success of a mediator is his or her authenticity—that’s not necessarily the same as honesty and goes beyond mere empathy—it is the ability to connect and develop an essential level of trust with the parties. That’s why Krivis has been so successful in his mediation practice and it’s what permeates through his words and stories. Every mediator, novice or advanced, practicing in any area of conflict management, would reap great benefit from reading this book."
—Robert Benjamin, senior mediator, Mediation and Conflict Management Services, Portland, Oregon

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

"Improvisational Negotiation is a road map to mediation ingenuity. It inspires us all to be creative and persistent in seeking resolution."
—Richard Chernick, managing director, JAMS Arbitration Practice

"Improvisational Negotiation is a must-read for all mediators. Jeff Krivis, a world-class mediator, brings the reader into the conference room and provides amazing insights that are both practical and useful. This wonderful book is like attending a superior advanced mediation training in the comfort of your living room."
—Eric Galton, mediator and author, Lakeside Mediation Center, Austin, Texas

"Jeff Krivis has once again demonstrated why he is one of the premier mediators in the world by writing an easy-to-read yet sophisticated treatment of what actually happens in mediation. The post-story sections of ‘What Happened?’ and ‘What Strategies Can We Learn?’ are helpful for practitioners from the novice to the master levels. The conversational tone, rather than a research approach with footnotes and case authority, is refreshing yet is still an invaluable way of telling the mediator’s story!"
—Robert A. Creo, founding member and past president, International Academy of Mediators

"After decades of negotiating and mediating some of the toughest cases around, Jeff Krivis has written a book explaining how he gets the job done. Well-written and entertaining, this is a book every lawyer should read."
—Richard H. Friedman, trial lawyer and author of Rules of the Road, Proving Liability in Bad Faith and Other Complex Cases

"This is a valuable and accessible resource for anyone interested in knowing about commercial mediation. And it is fun to read."
—Arlen Gregorio, Gregorio, Haldeman & Piazza, Mediated Negotiations

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

"Jeff Krivis’s stories of masterful mediation are perfect for promoting the kind of moment-to-moment creativity that characterizes the great mediatorsand the great jazz musicians. 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 of Missouri-Columbia School of Law; director, Center for the Study of Dispute 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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