For some, negotiating is about winning. For others, it's about compromise. But if we think about it as a collaboration, often both sides can get what they want.

Do the preparation task first. Then read the article and do the exercises.


Whether you're negotiating a multimillion dollar deal, agreeing on your role in a project or simply persuading your colleagues to go for Chinese food for lunch, effective negotiation skills can help you to motivate other people, get the best results and improve profitability.

There is often a misconception that negotiating is about insisting on our point of view to get our own way. Conversely, others assume that negotiation is all about compromise and that we have to be ready to forget 50 per cent of what we want. 

But thinking of negotiating as either insisting or compromising can damage relationships and leave both sides feeling as if they've lost. According to Fisher and Ury in their best-selling book Getting to Yes, there is another way. They argue that collaboration is the key to negotiating successfully, and they illustrate this by telling the story of the Orange Quarrel. It goes like this:

Joey and Jenny are arguing over an orange. In a win–lose situation, Joey might simply take the orange from Jenny. Joey would then be satisfied but Jenny would be upset and frustrated. Alternatively, Joey might find dishonest ways of convincing Jenny that she didn't want that orange after all. Using this method, Joey might get his way, but he might damage their relationship in the long run.

If they focus on compromise, Joey and Jenny might decide to cut the orange in half. Their effort to share means that each of them now has half of what they wanted but neither of them is fully satisfied.

However, if Joey and Jenny spent some time talking to each other, they might find out that Jenny in fact wants the orange peel to make a cake. Joey, on the other hand, loves eating oranges and doesn't want the peel. In this collaborative scenario, Joey and Jenny are both able to achieve 100 per cent satisfaction when they realise that Jenny can have all the peel and Joey all the fruit. Yet, according to Fisher and Ury, too many negotiations end up with half an orange for each side instead of the whole fruit for one and the whole peel for the other. 

The first step to understanding the role of collaboration in negotiations is to realise that it is not always a competitive situation. One person's 'win' doesn't have to equal another person's loss. Exploring the interests and needs of both parties can help us see solutions we didn't consider before. 

Here are five things we can do to collaborate when negotiating.

1. Know your objectives.

What are your interests in this? Make a list of the results you'd like to achieve. What are your priorities? Remember that maintaining a good relationship might be one of your objectives.

2. Separate the people from the issue.

Understand the difference between the content of the negotiation and the people who are negotiating. Try to be objective and manage your negative emotions.

3. Ask questions and listen.

Some people enter a negotiation prepared with a speech about what they want. But as seen in the Orange Quarrel, it is important to also understand your negotiation partner's interests and objectives. So, ask questions, listen and get an overview of everyone's situation.

4. Find shared interests.

How different are your interests from your negotiating partner's? Get to know which interests clash and which ones are shared. An understanding of shared interests will help you see this as an opportunity to work together rather than a competitive situation. 

5. Look at creative options.

The first solution you think of, for example, splitting the orange in half, might not always be the best one. Think creatively and discuss different alternatives that might work for everyone. 

Most people have positive intentions and they do want to get along, even in potentially tense situations. By showing that we are professionals capable of collaborating, we can not only please everyone involved but also set a strong foundation for future negotiations. 

Task 1

Task 2


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Submitted by howtosay_ on Sun, 18/06/2023 - 15:14


Hello, dear teachers and team!

Could you please help me with the following phrase:

"to make a deal on paper". Can I say that? Or does "to conclude a written deal" sound better?

I'm very very grateful for your constant help and thank you very much for answering this comment beforehand!

Hello howtosay_,

I'm afraid I'm not completely sure what you mean by 'make a deal on paper' or 'conclude a written deal'. The second one sounds better to me, though, and I think could work depending on what you mean. 

If you are talking about two parties coming to an agreement and wanting to formalize it in writing, would 'sign a deal' or 'sign a contract' make sense?

All the best,
LearnEnglish team

Hello, Kirk!

Thank you very much for your answer! I'm sorry, I should have clarified what I meant exactly.

It has to do with an agreement concerning rent of a flat. For example:

"We agreed on rent a flat verbally, but I want to ____________ (sign a deal, I think is better?) just in case".

Hello howtosay_,

I think the best word to use here is 'lease', which can be both a verb and a noun. I'd probably say 'I'd like to sign a lease' or 'I'd like to formalize the arrangement in the form of a lease'.

You could also use the word 'contract', but usually we refer to contracts for flats as 'leases'.

All the best,
LearnEnglish team

Submitted by andi galing on Wed, 21/12/2022 - 12:18


Negotiation is very useful in both personal and professional life. For example, negotiating salary during a job interview. According to Payscale survey results, people who negotiate their salary receive an average of 25% more than they expected. From this, it can be seen that this negotiation skill is very important to master. Not only that, there are many things you can negotiate, for example: more flexible work schedules, freelance adjustment negotiations, holiday leave negotiations, and others.

Submitted by fariba on Sun, 15/11/2020 - 11:16

when i want to be susses in negotiation the best way is collaboration.

Submitted by Yacine idouch on Sun, 05/04/2020 - 22:04

Firstly, I would like to thank you for sharing with us this topic, It's very interesting to read. In my opinion, we are talking about the art of negotiation that includes all the aspects relating to collaboration and mostly the capacity to accept and understand the difference between the content of negotiation and the people who are negotiating

Submitted by farid007 on Sat, 21/03/2020 - 20:53

I think before entering into negotiation we need to make sure that we are not too much emotional and we are enough objective. Rather than focusing on our instinctions, we should learn about our negotiating partners. We should be prepared also that negotiating partners might not have shared interests, in which case Orange Quarrel deal is not goint to work. I think that learning more about our negotiating partners might help us to negotiate sucessfully and find alternative solutions. I believe that learning and knowing our business partners is the most challenging part of negotiation. Is there anyone who can tell me how to know our business partners and is there some benchmark that can show us that we know enough about our business partners to step into negotiations?

Submitted by om mariam on Fri, 13/12/2019 - 19:12

In my opinion any effective negotiations ,collaboration must be a main part of it, in order to reach the win-win point or 100% satisfaction for all parts.If people embraced collaboration in negotiating ,many conflicts and devastating wars could be avoided.I will not be overwhelming when I say that effective negotiations skill should be taught to our kids because it is necessary for social peace.