Modern technology has made it easier than ever before to communicate with people on the other side of the planet. And in addition to the social benefits of being able to engage with other cultures and perspectives, this also means American businesses are increasingly able to enter international markets. Take the Chinese market, for instance. Giant corporations like the NBA and Marvel are bending over backwards to gain a strategic foothold in the region, which is a testament to just how much money is to be made in the far east.
This means that even if your business isn’t frequently engaging with customers or even employees from around the world, it’s likely only a matter of time. And as cross-cultural business becomes the norm, professionals across industries need to develop and hone a new set of skills to remain competitive: cross-cultural negotiation.
Benefits of cross-cultural negotiation
Continuing from the example above, doing business in China is vastly different from doing business within the United States. This spans not only the preferred language, but also business etiquette, the role of pride and politeness, attitude toward figures of authority, as well as the typical decision-making process. When you’re able to negotiate effectively with people from other cultures, you can anticipate these differences and act in a way that supports a favorable outcome – maximizing opportunities for success and company profitability.
Simply put, cross-cultural negotiation empowers you to craft better agreements with customers, suppliers, and coworkers. It also fosters better teamwork within your organization, especially when collaborating with colleagues from cultures you might be unfamiliar with. Above all, it allows you to communicate more effectively and efficiently in any cross-border or cross-cultural business setting you may find yourself in.
Here are three steps for more effective and more profitable cross-cultural negotiations.
1. Understand your blind spots
We all arrive at the negotiation table with our own cultural biases and expectations. And when these don’t match the actual experience of the negotiation, it can lead to tension that builds frustration, erodes respect, and jeopardizes the entire discussion. This is why it’s important to preempt your natural responses to cross-cultural situations, so you can keep unfavorable behavior in check. For instance, you might find that you often talk faster when you feel that you’re not being understood correctly. Being aware of this beforehand, you can adjust your approach and avoid potential problems before you even begin negotiating.
2. Identify the cultural gaps
Once you’ve considered the scope and nature of your intuitive cross-cultural reactions, it’s time to think about the specific challenges you’re likely to encounter when face to face with the other negotiating party. Their deeply held cultural values will drive their negotiation behavior, so conduct some research and think carefully about how this may influence their approach. It’s especially important to identify gaps between your values and the other party’s values, so you won’t be caught off-guard and can avoid unnecessary misunderstandings.
3. Adjust and refine your negotiation strategy
Once you’ve identified likely disconnects between you and the other party, you’ll want to adjust and refine your negotiation process to close those gaps. This will involve thinking about underlying needs driven by cultural values, such as the need to maintain face and look good to one’s superiors, as well as the best ways to craft the best possible agreement.
RED BEAR Negotiation Company is a global performance improvement firm dedicated to maximizing the profitability of the agreements negotiated with suppliers, customers, partners, and colleagues. If you’re interested in enhancing the performance of negotiators and purchasing professionals in your organization, contact us or click here for more information.