When I work with clients on improving their negotiation skills, I often tell them about the “orange story” from the book Getting to Yes, which essentially goes like this:


Two kids say they need an orange but find that there’s only one orange left. As civil, reasonable kids, they decide to cut the orange in half. Not bad, right? At least each got half of what they said they wanted. Well, actually… Had they shared a little more information about why they wanted the orange, they would’ve found out that one of them wanted the orange for the fruit while the other wanted the orange rind to bake a cake. So, had they focused on their interests (i.e., the “why”) behind what they said they wanted, each could’ve have ended up with 100% of what they wanted rather than the 50% they got.


In addition to sharing the orange story here, I also wanted to share this article from CNBC.com that discusses some helpful negotiation tips from Harvard Business School professor Deepak Malhotra. One of the tips that resonates with me the most involves having “a learning mindset” during negotiations, which means: Ask a lot of questions! Most people prepare for a negotiation by getting really clear on what they want to say. Few people give much thought to what they want to understand about the other party in a negotiation. As Malhotra says, the key is to find out WHY people want the things they want.


So for your next negotiation—no matter how large or small—get into a learning mindset and find out why the other party wants what they want. And yes, get clear on why YOU want the things you want. Maybe both of you could walk away with the part of the orange you really care about.



Guillermo Villar is principal coach with Cambio Coaching. He helps high-achieving individuals and teams communicate with intention to get the business results they want. If you’re interested in working with Guillermo, sign up for a free exploratory meeting.