Negotiating across different cultures

by Giles Morgan
What considerations are there when you negotiate across different cultures. What do you think?
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One of my past delegates previously asked about how to negotiate with different cultures. This particular individual was about to negotiate with a team of Japanese and my points to her were:

  1. Don’t make any assumptions what so ever.
  2. Don’t allow your cognitive bias, the pre-programming in your mind to put them into boxes or how the negotiation will go, into a certain set box. Go in with an open mind.
  3. Do your preparation beforehand on the individuals and also their organisation, in how they normally negotiate.

Our experience suggests the further East and South you go from UK the colder negotiators can become, perhaps because they are more used to haggling for everyday products and services, whilst in the UK and the west we don’t usually negotiate at the markets, we simply just go to a supermarket and buy. But that all being said, this is still very much a generalised assumption especially as I have met many negotiators from the East and South of the equator who have been able to negotiate just as appropriately in a collaborative diplomatic deal.

So my point here is, never make an assumption based on cognitive bias, and pre-programmed thoughts of how a specific culture may or may not negotiate.

You must do your preparation beforehand and you must negotiate with an open mind while you are there, but equally have in your mind that in the preparation stage of a negotiation having an appreciation for what formality or informality maybe expected in their culture, Japan being a prime example of this.

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