We work in an increasingly globalized business world. Whether we’re selling, buying, or working with colleagues on important projects, it’s more likely than ever that we’ll be called on to negotiate with someone in another country, or a co-worker “down the hall” with a a different cultural heritage than our own.
Too often negotiation skill training minimizes the effects of culture. Yet given the growth of international business activity, managing the cross-cultural dimension of negotiation can make the difference between success and failure.
Four key issues any cross-cultural negotiator must consider are:
1. How to minimize distrust and stereotyping, which are much more likely in cross-cultural settings.
2. How to manage language issues between the parties, which can emerge even when both negotiators presumably speak the same language (with one party challenged because it is their second language)
3. How to be successful in virtual negotiations (conducted via email, web meeting, or even text messaging), which are much more common in cross-border business transactions.
4. How to uncover and address needs of the other party based on their cultural preferences in areas like need for short- vs. long-term results; need for certainty and process (vs. tolerance for ambiguity); and need to succeed in negotiations on behalf of the collective team (rather than as an individual performer).