Tuesday, May 1, 2007

International Negotation: process defined

The following story is an example that demonstrates the importance of understanding Intercultural Communication and its impact on business processes. Recently I heard a story about an American CEO who went to Japan to meet with another company about a possible business partnership. None of the Japanese spoke English and the American did not speak Japanese so they employed the services of a translator. Throughout the business world American known for giving well organized presentations that inform, captivate, mystify, and entertain audiences. Americans often exploit a useful tool to begin presentations that has existed for hundreds of years and has been outlined by scholars such as Aristotle- a joke or funny story. Back to the story. The American, unversed in Intercultural Communication, begins his presentation by telling a short joke to engage his listeners. The translator, realizing the joke will not translate, decided instead to explain to the Japanese how Americans like to use humor to begin presentations and when the joke was over said to them, "The American wants you to laugh at him now"-and they did.
This is a dynamic situation. One underlying issue in this intercultural communication is cultural variation between interactants. In Japanese culture Saving Face is an important factor to be acknowledged and we can learn from how we see it treated in the above situation. I am getting off track.
As globalization takes hold on our world in general, it is simultaneously affecting our world of business and how we operate. Many global players are extending business beyond their borders daily and at an increasingly rapid pace. As businesses of this globalization era it is important we realize the impact foreign relations is and will continue to have on our bottom-line. The study and mastery of Intercultural Communication,if implemented correctly, could be what sets your organization apart from the competition on an international scale.
Most if not all business is contingent on a preliminary negotiation process in which parties involved express parameters, needs, expectations, hesitations, the list goes on. In general the International Negotiation process consists of common and conflicting interests between persons of different cultural backgrounds who work to reach an agreement of mutual benefit. When language barriers and cultural diversity is added into the equation these variegated situations can become haphazard failures.

So, what are some characteristics of effective negotiators?
  1. Observant, patient, adaptable, great listeners.
  2. Appreciate humor but are aware of how humor may or may not be used.
  3. Mentally sharp.
  4. Understands and researches the culture of interest-Empathy.
  5. Keep promises and always negotiate in good faith.

Considerations for cross cultural negotiation:

  1. The players and the situation.
  2. Decision making styles of the other party/parties.
  3. National Character-changes with situations and time.
  4. Cultural noise.
  5. Interpreters and translators:
  • positive- more time to think.
  • negative- mistranslation or things just do not translate.

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