Results Through Relationship: Negotiating Cross-Culturally: Where to start?

NEGOTIATING CROSS-CULTURALLY: Where to start?

icon3 WHEN IN ROME, DON’T ACT AS ROMANS DO

We all know that negotiating cross-culturally is not only intimidating but challenging as well. There is far less material to be found on what you should do when faced with negotiating with someone from another culture. In other words, we all know why cross-cultural negotiations are tough; little is known as to how to overcome this.

A quick fixer, as many a theorist would propound, would be “When in Rome, act as Romans do”. But often, this works against most people. You are not the only one modifying your approach; it is highly likely that the other party is changing his approach so as to cater to you as well. The end result can prove to be disastrous, with both of you attempting to act appropriately but not really understanding what the other party is doing. While there may be a chance that you can modify your approach successfully and effectively, the fact is that most of the time it leads to more confusion.

icon1 AN ALTERNATIVE

That is not to say that you should not be aware of the cultural differences between you and the other negotiating party. Nonetheless, there are more effective ways to overcome difficulties that occur during cross-cultural negotiations.

Stephen Weiss, an associate professor of policy and international business at York University, has provided a rubric of options that are more responsive to this dilemma. As a negotiator, there are eight different strategies he proposes that can be broken down into three categories based on how familiar you are with the other negotiator’s culture: low, moderate and high. In each group, there are unilateral strategies (ones you can use individually) and joint strategies (ones that involve the participation of the other party).

icon2 STRATEGIES: UNILATERAL OR JOINT

These will be touched on in-depth in a future negotiation article, but for now, get yourself familiar with identifying unilateral strategies and joint strategies. Unilateral strategies employ agents or advisors, adapt to the other negotiator’s approach, or embrace the other negotiator’s approach. Joint strategies bring in a mediator, induce the other negotiator to use your approach, coordinate adjustment, improvise an approach or effect symphony. Culture affects several negotiation factors; attitudes, time sensitivity, emotionalism, agreement form to name a few; so take extra care in your research prior to starting your negotiation talks.

 

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