Negotiating around the world is, contrary to popular belief, not much different from negotiating in the U.S. While there are cultural differences to take into account, most of the same principles and skills apply. For example, the importance of preparing in advance for questions that may arise, the value of having alternatives in mind, and the impact of anchoring all apply to negotiations in any country or culture.
The few differences that do exist are more about being respectful of the other culture than they are about adjusting negotiation strategies. Be who you are, but keep these six adjustments in mind the next time you negotiate with other cultures:
However, in some cultures, talking about your personal life may be viewed as a negative. Some view it as wasting time. For others, it may even erode their trust in you, as it may be seen as mischievous. Be aware of what you may be inclined to say and be ready to adopt a more conservative stance until you see how others are interacting.
In Asia, it works a little differently. For example, if there were three vendors vying for an Asian company’s business, each vendor would get its turn. They would be concerned about offending vendors and would want to treat them all fairly. Keeping all the vendors happy is the goal. In Asia, the relationship is the driver; in the U.S., however, the deal goes to the vendor that’s the best fit with the best price. There’s more focus on getting the deal done versus nurturing the relationship.
It can be difficult to negotiate with a tough businessperson if you’re used to taking a weaker stance. It makes the weaker party much more vulnerable if he or she isn’t prepared to deal with someone who’s more direct. It’s also important to remember that tough negotiators aren’t being “mean.” It’s business, not personal.
Some cultures may be more inclined to use their hands or raise their voices when they speak. This doesn’t indicate disrespect – it represents that they express emotion differently.
While many things remain the same regardless of where in the world you’re conducting business, being aware of the subtleties that affect negotiations may mean the difference between landing the deal and wondering where you may have gone wrong.
As a master facilitator for SNI, Chip Tames has trained companies of all sizes around the world, including several Fortune 50 companies. Before SNI, he was a sales manager for Dale Carnegie.