Leadership Crossroads Newsletter

In Focus:  Juice and Cake?
  (The Power of Integrative Negotiating)

Your two young daughters come to you, each asking for an orange.  Problem is, there is only a single orange left. What are you going to do?

In MBA classes and negotiation training workshops around the world, this question is very popular. As it happens, the most common answer suggests to “split the orange in half.”  A classic compromise, this practical-but-not-overly-satisfying approach leaves, as compromises inevitably do, both sides short of meeting their objectives, in this case, of getting their orange. After all, while “splitting the difference” may seem fair, it usually does neither side justice.  “But there is no (immediate) alterna­tive here!”, you think?  Well, read through this extension of the story:

Rather than splitting the orange in half, a mother con­fronted with this situation asked both of her daughters what they planned to do with the orange.

“I want to make orange juice!” responded one of them. “I want to bake an orange cake!”, the other shouted. “Great!” said the mother, “then you’ll both get what you want.”

[ A note for the kitchen-dyslexic among us: making orange juice means you only need the fruit flesh, while the peel is all that is required for orange cake. Accordingly, the two girls can happily share the single orange. ]

“Powerful story, but this example is pretty far-fetched,” you say? I respectfully disagree. The underlying principle, called “integra­tive negotiation,” outlines a practical and promising approach to real-world situations. It does so by concentrating on interests and aiming to identify ways to create additional value (“expand the pie”) between the parties. By focusing on WHY rather than WHAT and searching for options for mutual gain, negotiators who employ this strategy create a collaborative spirit and fre­quently reach agreement faster.

This is unlike “distributive negotiation,” which is based on the assumption that winning something means the other side must give it up (“win-lose negotiating”) and often leads to competitive, sometimes controversial, interactions.

The real world tends to be a bit more complex than in our story here. One reason for this is that we humans rarely state clearly what it is we want — sometimes we don’t even know. For instance, how often have you heard “I need a better price,” only to find out later that what the other person really wanted was either lower cost (not the same thing!) or an altogether different product or service. How often did someone tell you what mattered most to him or her was “a reasonable price” where the person ultimately turned out to be motivated by superior prestige or performance? Left unexplored, such statements tend to become roadblocks that lead to negotiations becoming heated and charged with unpleasant emotions.

As a strategy, integrative negotiation allows you to overcome such roadblocks. A simple set of information exchanges designed to identify interests, such as “Why do you need a better price?”  “Because we have a certain budget and cannot exceed it.”  “Are you willing to consider other ways to meet your budget constraints?“  “Sure”  opens doors to discussing the cost of shipping/­installing/­training/­maintenance, for example, and creates room for reaching an agreement that satisfies both sides. Moreover, since positions play less of a role with this attitude, it becomes easier to keep cool and “separate the people from the problem,” even when the two sides are initially poorly aligned and some stated positions seem outrageous.

We all know that in life, things are rarely black and white. The same is true here: most real-world negotiations include both, distributive and integrative elements. When working inter-nationally, you may also notice certain cultural preferences towards one or the other. People in Sweden or Finland, for example, commonly prefer integrative approaches, while their Russian neighbors may show a bias towards distributive win-lose exchanges. When preparing to negotiate, you will want to factor such aspects into your planning.

No matter where you are, one thing is certain: interpreting people’s positions as invitations to identify their real interests promotes cooperation much better than digging in your heels and trying to force your counterparts to accept what you want. More often than not, the latter merely yields foul compromises and hurt feelings.

What do you like better: getting half an orange, or enjoying your juice/cake?

This article is also available in PDF format  (requires Adobe Reader ).

Book Of The Quarter
The Culture Map


A fresh approach to defining cultural dimen­sions in ways that make them meaning­ful and easily appli­cable in a global business context.

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Web Site Of The Quarter
Global Research


Multilingual news articles, com­mentary, back­ground re­search and analysis on a broad range of issues, focussing on social, eco­nomic, stra­tegic and environ­mental processes, pub­lished by the Centre for Research on Globali­zation.

(click title to visit this web site)



Quote Of The Quarter

I do not believe
you can do today's job
with yesterday's methods
and be in business tomorrow

Nelson Jackson










Leadership Crossroads
is a competent resource for

  • Global Business Training & Coaching
  • Global Negotiation Training and Assistance
  • Global Project Management
  • Organizational Learning and Development
    across Cultures
  • Executive Coaching

Celebrating 10 years of client service in 2014

New Blended Online Training:   Working Effectively across Cultures

This highly interactive online training includes individual self-paced learning and webinar-style exchanges of experience with the facilitator and others in the class.   Check out our  module preview  to get an idea of how much fun online learning can be!
  • Can be spread over as little as two days and as much as two weeks.
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  • Webinars can leverage client’s normal environ­ment.
  • Newsletter informs learners of next steps.
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International Business

New:  The Global   
Business Culture Guide

Negotiating International Business book

Kindle E-Book

The Global Business Culture Guide book

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All 50 individual Country Sections from Negotiating International Business are available online for free. Download Country Section PDF files now.

Lothar Katz

Lothar Katz is the founder of Leadership Crossroads.  He has helped many clients achieve productive cooperation across cultures and drive business success on a global scale.
A seasoned global executive, he regularly interacted with employees, cus­tomers, out­sourcing partners, and third parties in numerous countries around the world.

Contact : info@leadershipcrossroads.com
Leadership CrossroadsSM, 2014

Global Business Practices:
Ten More Tips for Doing Business in Russia

  • With a territory that is more than 70 percent larger than that of Canada, Russia is by far the largest country in the world.
  • Consider also that Russia extends over nine different time zones, such that work hours barely overlap sometimes.
  • At present, many Russians are leery of Westerners and believe they cannot be trusted. Tread with utmost caution when discussing current politics.
  • Since Russians want to know whom they will be meeting, provide details on attendees’ titles, positions, and responsi­bili­ties ahead of time.
  • People here often dislike being rushed or having to follow the fast paced Western approach. Patience is of critical impor­tance in this country.
  • Relationship building is crucial here. It commonly includes extensive dinners and drinking binges.
  • Refrain from praising or rewarding anyone in public. Unlike in many other cultures, doing so could raise suspicion about your motives.
  • Being asked for a favor is often an indicator of trust in Russia.
  • Communicating with Russians can be anything from direct to rather indirect. Russians may sometimes feel a need to be very careful about what they say, speaking metaphorically.
  • There is no pronounced sense of privacy in Russia. Strangers might stop and tell you that you are breaking some rule.

Our newsletter is a quarterly publication about all aspects of International and Cross-Cultural Business Management.  Past issues can be found in our  newsletter archive.

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