Review and Reflection to “Negotiating the Nonnegotiable” by Daniel Shapiro

Pastor Matthew Best
8 min readMay 26

I picked this book up after watching a Youtube video that included the author. The subject was about dealing with conflict in healthy ways. This is something that I think is so very needed since our society in so many aspects are full of conflict. And if seems as though there are few that are seeking healthy ways to resolve the conflict that exist — there is more of an emphasis on winning conflict, rather than resolving it. The difference is important. Winning is an all or nothing game in which no one really wins, we all lose, it’s just a matter of by how much. Resolution though is about taking everyone into consideration. The subtitle of the book is “How to resolve your most emotionally charged conflicts.” So, let’s dive in because there is a lot of great insight in this book.

The premise, which will run through the entire book is this — “You can’t resolve such conflicts unless you address them at the root — which stretches beneath rationality, beneath even emotions, to the heart of who you are: your identity.” (Pg. xvi). At its core, this is about understanding identities and communicating effectively with those identities.

One of the first points that Shapiro makes is about the different dimensions of conflict resolution. He names three key dimensions of who we are as human beings:

  1. Homo economicus — This is the idea that people are rational beings. “…your main motivation is to get your interests met as efficiently as possible.” (Pg. 9)
  2. Homo emoticus — This is about our emotions. “…emotions can facilitate conflict resolutions — provided that you can listen to what they are telling you. Just as hunger alerts you to the necessity of food, emotions alert you to unmet psychological needs.” (Pg. 10)
  3. Homo identicus — This is about our identity. “…human beings seek meaning in their existence.” (Pg. 10)

The key point in this last dimension is that it “entails not just your individual identity but the space between you and the other side.” (Pg. 11). This is a key understanding when we get to conflict resolutions. Is the space between us deep and wide, or is it easy to bridge?

From understanding of key dimensions, Shapiro spends time diving into aspects of identity. He talks about how identity is both fluid and fixed. Within this the author identifies what he calls the five pillars of identity which help us to find…

Pastor Matthew Best

My name is Matthew Best. I’m an ELCA (Lutheran) pastor who attempts to translate church and churchy stuff into everyday language.