overcoming cultural barriers
What is overcoming cultural barriers?
Some of the most fundamental international negotiation skills to develop are negotiation strategies for overcoming cultural barriers in communication.
If you have experience negotiating across cultures, then you know that misunderstandings and even conflict based on cultural differences come up from time to time. Unfortunately, we tend to overuse stereotypes when thinking about overcoming cultural barriers.
If you’re like most people, you wisely understand that cultural differences are likely to be a factor in negotiations. According to anthropologists, cultural differences often spring from our different histories: the varying geographical, political, and economic conditions in which our ancestors found themselves.
Yet research suggests that negotiators, to their detriment, may give too much weight to cultural factors when preparing for talks.
When negotiators from different cultures meet, they may try overcoming cultural differences by adapting their behavior in an attempt to match their counterpart’s cultural style. A survey by Wendi L. Adair of the University of Waterloo, Canada, for example, found that experienced American and Japanese business negotiators adjusted their negotiating style too far toward the other side’s culture, resulting in confusion and misunderstandings.
Ironically, our efforts to understand one another can drive us apart. However, when it comes to overcoming cultural differences, more variance often exists within cultures than between them. Negotiators should seek out information about both individual and cultural differences.
Throughout your interactions, continue to look beyond culture, striving to learn about your counterparts as individuals.
Discover how to refine your negotiation skills with this free special report, Negotiation Training: Overcoming Cultural Barriers in Negotiations, from Harvard Law School.
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