Background Note | HBS Case Collection | September 2002

Presence of Mind

by Michael A. Wheeler


This case is reflection on the importance of acquiring presence of mind in negotiations. Using a variety of metaphors, the case explores different ways for negotiators to achieve this selfawareness. Athletes experience the phenomenon of "being in the zone," artists and writers speak of being "in flow," and practitioners of mediation strive for "mindfulness." These different experiences all provide insight for negotiators as they face complex interpersonal and contextual discussions. This case resents a vivid example of a firefighter facing an extreme situation--and using an enviable presence of mind to see it through.

Keywords: Management Skills; Negotiation Tactics; Negotiation Style; Interpersonal Communication; Decision Making;


Wheeler, Michael A. "Presence of Mind." Harvard Business School Background Note 903-009, September 2002.