The Negotiation Process in China

Cross cultural communication in international negotiations - advice regarding the negotiation process in China

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negotiation process

With its booming economy and growing international consumer influence, the role of negotiation in international business is more important than ever and negotiation skills appropriate for China are in high-demand. Here are a few negotiation tips to help you successfully navigate the negotiation process in China.


Click here to download your copy of International Negotiations: Cross-Cultural Communication Skills for International Business Executives from
 the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.


Reciprocity is an important feature of negotiations around the world but particularly so in the People’s Republic of China. Build relationships but expect to incur obligations as well. Make sure to build relationships with your counterparts in constructive ways that both honor her need for a reciprocal understanding of the business relationship while also creating value and securing the most optimal negotiated agreement for your organization possible.

Don’t depend on only contracts, which serve more to establish a relationship than to specify all future contingencies. Communication in international business is important but even more so when the negotiated agreement is vague on the specifics. Read more about the importance of Guanxi when negotiating in China.

Negotiation Strategy 1: Take your time.

Lasting deals aren’t negotiated in days or weeks but in months and years.

Negotiation Strategy 2: Make high-level contacts.

To find negotiators who are flexible and practical, reach out to those in positions of authority whenever possible.

Negotiation Strategy 3: Avoid the gold rush mentality.

Make sure you’re committing to a deal that truly will benefit you and your organization.

Finally, continue to develop your best alternative to a negotiated agreement or BATNA. The only surefire antidote to hardball negotiation tactics is a strong, secure outside option away from the bargaining table.

What are your thoughts on the negotiation process in China? We love to hear from our readers. Leave a comment below to let us know what you think.

Related International Negotiation Article: Negotiation in China: The Importance of Guanxi– Relationships in negotiation are critical in China

Overcoming Cultural Barriers in Negotiation: China and the Gold Rush Mentality – The importance of communication in business with international clients hinges on both effective negotiation techniques and a cultural understanding of your counterpart


Click here to download your copy of International Negotiations: Cross-Cultural Communication Skills for International Business Executives from
 the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.


Adapted from During the Gold Rush: Negotiating in China for the Negotiation newsletter by Ray Friedman.

Originally published June 2013.

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