In today’s global business environment, an executive must have the skills and knowledge to navigate all stages of an international deal, from negotiations to managing the deal after it is signed.
Based on his book: The Global Negotiator: Making, Managing, and Mending Deals Around the World in the Twenty-First Century by Palgrave Macmillan, (2003). Global Negotiator is to equip business executives with that exact knowledge.
Whereas most books on negotiation end when the deal is made, this book, illustrates the many ways in which an international deal may falter and the methods parties can use to save it.
How diverse cultures approach conflict in the context of the integration of global markets is a new arena for research and practice. To date, most of the research on international arbitration has focused exclusively on Western models of arbitration as practiced in Europe and North America. While such studies have accurately reflected the geographic foci of international arbitration practice in the late twentieth century, the number of international arbitrations conducted in East Asia has recently been growing steadily and on par with growth in Western regions.
When conducting international business negotiations (IBN), it’s imperative to understand your counterpart’s cultural, possible cultural barriers and negotiation differences.
Prepare for possible cultural barriers.
As illustrated through many research literature, the outcome of globalization leads us generally to believe that opportunities to meet others from a variety of national cultures have increased. The truth is that we live in a global village where out neighbors, friends, and co-workers will not necessarily share the same values or speak the same native language as we do.
Even with a common language and the best of intentions, negotiators from different cultures face special challenges. Negotiators from different cultures may need help interpreting signals and norms that could make or break a cross-cultural negotiation.
To succeed in both our personal and professional lives, we must learn how to relate, with people form other cultures. As a consequence, the topic of culture is becoming one of the central areas receiving increased attention form communication scholars.
Surprisingly, examination of extant literature (e.g., Cupach and Imahori´s, 1993; Fehr, 2000; Lin, Y and Lim, S, 2003; Miczo, 2004) reveals that intercultural relationships, intercultural marriage and intercultural business friendship have remained largely unexplored, despite the fact that it is more prevalent and influential today in cross-cultural business.
Moreover, I believe that intercultural communication necessarily involves a clash of communicator style. Chinese say, “One should use the eyes and ears, not the mouth.) They consider the wisest and most trustworthy person as the one who talks the least and who listens, watches and restricts his or her verbal communication.
In many other cultures talk is a highly valued commodity. Some cultures value and employ a very direct and personal style of verbal communication. In such cultures, personal pronouns are an essential ingredient to the composition of just about any utterance. Other cultures, however, prefer an indirect and impersonal communication style. In these cultures, there is no need to verbally articulate every message. True understanding is implicit, coming not from words but from actions in the environment where speakers provide only hints or insinuations.
Intercultural friendship or cross-cultural research suggests there is a need to expand our understanding both of the communication dynamics involved in intercultural friendships and of cross-cultural similarities/differences in the expectations associated with the concept of both intercultural friendships and cross-cultural business communication dynamics.
Most business professionals recognize when they need technical or legal expertise to proceed with a deal-making interaction. Similarly, cross-cultural negotiators should realize that they might well need help sizing up the situation in advance, as well as interpreting the signals and norms that could make or break a negotiation in a cross-cultural context.
Try following these guidelines when preparing for talks with someone from a different culture:
- Research your counterpart’s background and experience.
- Enlist an adviser from your counterpart’s culture.
- Pay close attention to unfolding negotiation dynamics.
The next time you are preparing for an important business negotiation, think through cultural and contextual factors before deciding whether to face your counterpart with a team or by yourself.
“The language of international business,” a British executive once said, “is broken English.” Fortunately Much of global business is conducted in English—an English with a profusion of accents, cadences, and syntaxes.
Translation can as well, complicate negotiations. Interpreters may not understand the business context of your deal or try to take control of negotiations. Executives must understand the four rules that can help them negotiate more effectively when dealing with translators.
Because translation complicates negotiation, executives should manage and plan for it as they would any other tactical element in dealmaking.
Based on “Negotiation in Translation,” Jeswald W. Salacuse first published in the Negotiation newsletter at Harvard Law School (October 2004). Salacuse has developed some simple rules that can help you negotiate more effectively in translation, four of which we summarize here.
- Hire your own translator, and make your choice carefully.
- Brief your translator before negotiations start.
- Stay on guard. (Some interpreters, because of personal interests or ego, will try to take control of negotiations or slant them in a particular way).
- Be sure to “chunk” it. (When you negotiate in consecutive translation, speak in short, bite-size chunks, pausing after each one to give the interpreter a chance to translate YOUR WORDS.
Avoid Ethical Problems
When it comes to negotiating behavior, more variance often exists within
cultures than between them. Negotiators should seek out information about
individual and cultural differences. However, negotiators are more likely to
assume that people from other cultures are behaving unethically than they are
to realize that standards of ethical behavior vary. Therefore, don’t jump to harsh conclusions about the other side’s motives when more benevolent explanations for their behavior are possible.
Like any differences between groups, these cultural differences are small,
on average. Nonetheless, we tend to overuse the stereotypes that arise from
these small differences, and these stereotypes block us from noting important
Perhaps the toughest problems arise surrounding what Professor Cheryl Rivers calls “ethically ambiguous” negotiation tactics. Ambiguity can lead us to reach sinister conclusions about the motives of our counterparts, particularly when we lack a solid understanding of an opponent’s culture. Learn how to avoid stereotypes and understand cultural differences in negotiation.
Success requires sensitivity to cultural variation, including recognition of the negotiator’s own cultural bias.
Read Professor Cheryl Rivers (of Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia), literature review. Rivers, summarizes a variety of cultural differences in negotiation: publication of the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.
Resolving Disputes in the Asia-Pacific Region presents empirical research about the attitudes and perceptions of over 115 arbitrators, judges, lawyers and members of the rapidly expanding arbitration community in China, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, Singapore, and Malaysia as well as North America and Europe.