“I need that orange !”, one said.
“Yes, but I need more !”, replied the other.
Time was running out and they both needed an orange to finish their particular recipes for the President’s dinner. Finally, they decided on a compromise: they grabbed one of the large kitchen knives that was lying around, split the orange in half, and each went to his corner to finish preparing his meal.
One chef squeezed the juice from the orange and poured it into the special sauce he was making. It wasn’t quite enough, but it would have to do. The other grated the peel and stirred the scrapings into the batter for his famous cake. He too didn’t have as much as he would have liked, but given the situation, what else could he have done ?
The better solution may seem obvious to you now: both chefs would have been better off if they had peeled the orange and had simply taken the part they needed. Instead, the chefs had focused on each other’s position (the what) and not on each other’s interest (the why).
Although the example is somewhat simplistic, I think it there is an important lesson to be learned
In a negotiation, it is important to be able to distinguish between positions and interests – both your own and the parties’ with whom you are negotiating. Depending on which one you decide to focus on will affect your negotiation style and influence the outcomes.
Sometimes you may find that the negotiation is just a matter of your share of the “fixed pie”, but by identifying the interests – at least you can say you tried.