Conclusion: Ten Tips

Cooperation depends on the voluntary interaction of two or more parties - and while there is nothing that can effectively be done to control the choices others may make, there are ways in which we can choose to conduct ourselves in order to be cooperative and increase the likelihood of getting cooperation of others.

The author provides a list of ten tips, with the concession that they are not complete answers and are not a guaranteed success, but based on his investigation of the subject, they constitute "good advice" that has better chance of success, in general, than do alternative options:

  1. Stay if you win, shift if you lose. If your strategy is working, don't change it; but if it isn't, then change to another approach.
  2. Bring a third player. Conflicts most often arise when there are two individuals in a conflict. Getting a third person involved - whether as a facilitator, purposeful non-cooperator, or even a player - helps avoid deadlocks and discourage cheating.
  3. Consider the long term. When parties consider the impact of their interaction on a long-term relationship that extends beyond the present situation, they tend to be more cooperative.
  4. Demonstrate commitment to cooperation. Giving the other party credible evidence of your intention to act cooperatively makes them more inclined to cooperate.
  5. Offer trust. Cooperation is based on mutual trust - and often, you cannot count on the other party to kick-start the cycle.
  6. Surface consequences of failure. Generally, parties enter into a negotiation for a reason, and if the negotiation fails, they will either suffer loss or fail to gain the benefit they sought. Drawing attention to this makes parties more interested in seeing that the negotiation succeeds.
  7. Consider "side payments." While bribery is usually not acceptable, you can offer the other party additional incentives, such as social or emotional rewards, for cooperation.
  8. Recall the "seven deadly dilemmas." If you find yourself in one of these situations, it might be better to see if you can change the parameters to escape an inherently difficult situation.
  9. Negotiate to satisfaction rather than equity. There are many situations in which a solution that makes everyone happy is not the same as a mathematically equal distribution.
  10. Divide larger groups into smaller ones. The larger the group involved in a negotiation, the more conflicts are likely to arise, and the more difficult it will be to arrive at a solution that everyone can accept.