Resolve: an Interview with Negotiation Expert and Psychologist Hal Movius

Hal Movius Resovle

If you dread conflict, you’re not alone.

Research suggests that interpersonal conflict is the biggest daily stressor we face. Whether you experience it when buying a car, asking for a raise, haggling on Craigslist, or even deciding who’s going to take out the trash, our lives are steeped in uncomfortable conflicts, and it often feels like the only way to avoid that discomfort is to avoid the conflicts entirely.

But Hal Movius, PhD, knows that conflicts are an unavoidable part of life, and that there is a better way to tackle them than getting tough or giving in: negotiation. To Hal, negotiation is a kind of superpower for conflict resolution, with applications that reach far beyond the boardroom. And the best part is, you don’t have to behave aggressively, change your personality, or take professional training in order to become a great negotiator. He reveals the secrets to gaining your own special conflict resolution powers in his upcoming release, Resolve: Negotiating Life’s Conflicts with Greater Confidence, published January 7th, 2017 by LifeTree Media.

If negotiation is a superpower, then Hal is a sort of Superman. With 25 years of experience in the field of conflict resolution, he is a negotiation expert and an applied psychologist who has shared his teachings through his firm, Movius Consulting; through lectures at the Harvard Law School; and through his first book, Built to Win: Creating a World-class Negotiating Organization, which international bestselling author Tom Peters described as “terrific”.

In Resolve, Hal shows us how to turn conflicts into opportunities to negotiate, and then to approach that negotiation with confidence that we can help steer the encounter toward a more satisfying outcome.

It was important to Hal that the book be highly practical, which led to his use of extensive examples and tools. “People often read books and reflect on their own lives,” he says, “but there is a ‘knowing/doing’ gap. And that’s what the tools are–they’re the small first steps to take.”

Working with LifeTree

Resolve isn’t Hal’s first foray into authorship, but it was definitely a unique experience. “The first book I wrote, I wrote with a co-author… [it] was a reflection on our practice, and that was easier. This book was more building a theory of confidence and why people fear and avoid conflict.” It was essential to Hal that the insights and advice in the book should be grounded in science. A self-confessed research nerd, Hal undertook a lengthy and labour-intensive research process in preparation for writing, eventually drawing upon many hundreds of studies for evidence to support his thesis.

His publishing experience with this book was different, too. While Built to Win was traditionally published by Harvard Business Review Press, Hal chose to work with LifeTree Media, a hybrid publisher, for Resolve. “It was important to me that I owned the material and the book,” Hal says, explaining the decision. “It was important to me that the publisher cared about the book and was going to work to make it good and promote it.”

“…we created a book that is a much better read.”

LifeTree publisher Maggie Langrick did indeed share his passion for the topic, choosing to undertake the substantive edit herself. Hal found the writing and editing process more intensive and collaborative than he had expected, given his previous experience with a traditional publisher, which he considers a good thing. “Working with Maggie and LifeTree… she’s a rigorous and dedicated editor. There is much closer attention paid to the book and the audience… It was gratifying, yet harder, because I had to do much more work. But we created a book that is a much better read.”

But for Hal and many other authors, it’s not just about the end product. “One great thing about working with Maggie was having someone to encourage me. Writing is really hard. The best thing about working with LifeTree is the feeling that you have people on your side. And that whatever you’re going through, they’ve seen some version of this before and they can offer reassurance that this is a normal part of the process. It’s impossible to underestimate the power of encouragement.

A gift from the team made a difference, too. “I got a care package [from LifeTree] after I signed the contract. There was a mug that said, ‘Never ever give up’ and I drink coffee out of it every day. It became my talisman through the writing process.”

A publisher’s role isn’t just about building a relationship with the  author, however–it’s ultimately about connecting the author with readers. “It’s good to have people who you feel are on the readers’ side,” Hal says. “And I don’t know that all editors do that.”

Lessons Learned

With two of his own books under his belt, Hal has some advice to share with other authors. “Go slow to go fast. Even if you’ve convinced yourself that your proposal and your first two chapters are totally brilliant, you might have to step back and really say, ‘Hmm…'”

But now that Hal has finished writing, he no longer needs to worry about the potential strength of his ideas, because he’s getting great feedback from his peers. Presence author Amy Cuddy has called it “highly recommended reading”, and Redirect author Timothy Wilson has said reading it will “change your life”. “Having given the book to colleagues and having them say it’s good is really gratifying. It will feel super great to put the book out there in the world.”

Resolve will be hitting store shelves January 7th in Canada and January 10th in the US. Pre-order it on Amazon now.


It’s official–LifeTree Media is an award-winning publisher! Our title, Vaporizedjust won the getAbstract International Book Award. Read our interview with author Robert Tercek here.

Paris Spence-Lang

Paris Spence-Lang

Paris is the Publishing Coordinator of LifeTree Media. When not working on the next bestseller, he can often be found reading one.
Paris Spence-Lang

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