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Reiss: The art of negotiation


There will be no end of troubles in the world or of opportunities for William and Mary students to step forward to stabilize relationships, according to Mitchell Reiss, vice provost for international affairs at the College of William and Mary. For those students, Reiss, an internationally renownd negotiator, offers the following caution: "Negotiations are not for the weak of heart."

During an interview captured on video at the Swem Media Center, Reiss talked about a negotiator's need for patience—"Patience is not just a virtue, it's a tactical advantage," he says—and about his or her appropriate use of anger—"If you are known for being calm and patient, then when you lose your temper it does make a big impression," he adds. A great challenge for many would-be diplomats is the need to negotiate with "people who are not angels," realizing that you "make peace with your enemies," he explains.

In the video, Reiss recounts the first trip he led to North Korea, where extreme security measures imposed inside the world's most secretive nation created incredible tension. He also discusses putting aside revulsion toward an enemy by concentrating on the greater good.

Reiss also discusses a two-hour meeting he had with Bono, the lead vocalist for the popular Irish rock band U2. "Even if he wears purple glasses, he had done his homework," Reiss suggests in terms of the rock star's advocacy for humanitarian initiatives. He also talks about the influence exerted by Britain's Princess Diana as she turned the media spotlight toward AIDS and the widespread use of land mines.