cultural differences in negotiation
What are Cultural Differences in Negotiation?
Research on international negotiation can help us think more broadly when it comes to managing cultural differences in negotiation.
When weighing how to deal with cultural differences in negotiation, consider whether or not our negotiating counterparts share a “family resemblance” with their culture of origin. Remember, though, that sizing up your counterpart’s culture should be just one element of your due diligence, along with learning about her as an individual and analyzing the issues at stake in the negotiation.
Unfortunately, when managing cultural differences in negotiation, negotiators tend to over-rely on stereotypes, to their detriment, University of Waterloo professor Wendi L. Adair and her colleagues have found. In a study of American and Japanese negotiators, the researchers found that study participants typically adjusted their negotiating style too far toward the other party’s culture.
However, a simple yet powerful cultural framework can help us make sense of our differences, get along better, and achieve more at the bargaining table. Although all cultures have social norms, the relative “tightness” of these norms—and the sanctions people face for breaking them—varies widely across cultures, according to University of Maryland psychologist Michele Gelfand.
But when we understand the logic behind behaviors that might otherwise seem foreign and frustrating, we become more collaborative and effective negotiators. Moreover, this type of cultural insight can make us more tolerant of our counterparts’ “flaws”—and perhaps more aware of some of our own.
If you’re still facing issues around cultural differences in negotiation, take frequent breaks to encourage deeper thinking, lessen the stress surrounding your negotiation, get to know one another, and make sure deadlines aren’t too tight.
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