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. 

Discussion

Language level

Intermediate: B1

Comments

Interesting and very helpful topic. In simple word author explain important thing about negotiating. Negotiation is a part of our life not only in business or job but also in relation ship of our friends, partners, parents or children. So it is very important to know how converse with other people. Sometime we want to fight about our objectives but it can destroy relationships, with is very important. So that's why we need separate person from the negotiation issue. Then it is good when we know point of view our negotiation partner. If this we know we can speak about compromise and together find the solution.