In which we learn that there is much more to
negotiation than simple bargaining
s we climb towards the heady heights of negotiating
skills, things start to change. The magic of good nego-
tiating means that both parties can come away happy. It is
like a sort of wonderful synergy where almost unbelievably
everyone gets what they want. But it takes an extremely
skilful negotiator to achieve this. Never fear, it is a skill that
with practice anyone can master. And strangely enough,
once again good old basic selling skills will help us.
My favourite story that has been oft repeated is the tale of
two sisters fighting each other with screams and shouts and
lots of hair pulling. You decide as a skilled negotiator that
you should intercede. You discover that they are fighting
over an orange. In the brilliant book on negotiating, Getting
to Yes, the authors describe the two sides as wishing to divide
a cake. Intuitively we start to divide the cake in percent-
age terms but the writers suggest that both sides could have
everything they wanted (perhaps the whole cake) which
seems impossible. You, as a fair minded person, must decide
CSBK004-18.indd 203CSBK004-18.indd 203 5/21/10 1:35:35 PM5/21/10 1:35:35 PM
what to do about this punch-up and orange situation. Have
a think; as a fair-minded reasonable person, what would be
the correct thing to do? I usually get one of two replies. The
diplomats thought you should offer to meticulously divide
the orange in half , giving one half to each sister.
She Had Got Him Licked
I want to get on to dirty tricks later in this chapter but I cant
resist this one because I have a kind of affection for people
who wont play the game. I have a very pompous relative who
has a very not pompous sister. Their mother despaired at the
constant war over the fair division of the spoils. Cakes were
often an issue and the last cake was a reason to go to war. The
mother was given an elegant solution to outwit the kids. Tell
one to divide the cake and the other can choose – a technique,
I am sure, that can be applied to all division situations.
(There is a similar wage settlement scheme where the
boss puts the offer and the workers put the claim in sealed
envelopes, and the mediator awards to whichever is deemed
the fairest with no compromise to the other party. When
the envelopes are opened it is often the case that the figures
are the same).
In the case of the siblings, the pompous brother got the
job of dividing – which he did meticulously with divid-
ers, a ruler, and other implements of accurate measure-
ment. Without a single atom of difference between the two
halves, the sister was allowed to choose. She picked up each
half in turn, licked the icing on each, then said she didnt
fancy either now that they had been “mucked about with”
and left, leaving her brother apoplectic with rage – which
was exactly the outcome she had wanted.
Neither Can Have It
The other option for the orange, I hear from the hawks
amongst you, is to take the orange away so that neither of
them can have it. This is a very dangerous option because,
whilst it will unite these violent sisters, it unites them to
CSBK004-18.indd 204CSBK004-18.indd 204 5/21/10 1:35:35 PM5/21/10 1:35:35 PM

Get Irresistible Persuasion: The Secret Way To Get to Yes Every Time now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.