Cross-cultural negotiation in business

Conducting cross-cultural negotiations has become common practice in this globalised environment. It is not necessary to travel internationally to take part in intercultural exchanges. This is why intercultural skills are fundamental, because they are not only linked to an international environment, they are essential within the same country, within any organisation and within any function.

Why is cross-cultural negotiation important ?

Intercultural negotiation means negotiating with people from different cultures. Negotiation can take place with cultures close to the interlocutor’s own or even far away (another country, another continent).

Intercultural skills can help to avoid major misunderstandings, and have problems with the foreign interlocutor. A mistake can damage the business negotiation. Thus, cultural variables must be integrated into any negotiation process. Cultural norms are essential and have a real influence on the behaviour of negotiators. The negotiator who shows understanding towards his foreign partner immediately stands out. This understanding is the key to successful intercultural negotiation.

Thus, the role of the negotiation expert is to develop a research plan, to learn from his experiences. Therefore, he or she does not pay attention to the stereotypes about this or that country and culture.

An intercultural negotiation needs to be prepared…

In any intercultural business negotiation, the interlocutor must consider the values and the styles of behaviour of the other parties. He must know them to build a good relationship with the other party and to reach a business negotiation agreement.

Cultural codes must be learned and adapted to each culture, as they vary from one country to another and from one group of countries to another. The negotiator needs to make lots of research before being in contact with the foreign partner. He should know how to use the negotiation techniques from the first contact to the closing of the negotiation and the potential agreement. However, even if every country is different, there are some fundamentals of negotiation to which one must be added the specific values to the culture.

Negotiation experts manage to create a real thread of discussion and are attentive to the dynamics of the negotiation, to the reactions of the other party and to the slightest questions, misunderstandings that might result from the exchange.
Intercultural negotiators can assess the situation and interpret all the signals and norms that could impact negatively the business negotiation in intercultural context.