As the world becomes increasingly connected, people both at home and in travels abroad, must consider the important issue of intercultural negotiation. This post is a primer for use by readers in learning about this issue.
The Intercultural Dimension:
All cultures have their own preferred styles and strategies for dealing with and managing conflict. Yet it is quite difficult to be culture-specific when discussion how to deal effectively with cross-cultural conflicts. Nevertheless, there are some general skills involved in cross-cultural negotiation and conflict management that can be highlighted.
A basic requirement for effective conflict management and negotiation is to know as much as possible about the other culture(s). Although experiential knowledge is preferable, research of the culture, norms, values, history, society etc. can be very helpful. The most significant feature of good cross-cultural relations, as most cross-cultural sources will indicate, involves avoiding stereotypes. Although certain generalizations may be fairly assessed in regard to how certain cultures deal with conflict, individual differences should always be considered as paramount. In fact, some cultural specialists suggest that all conflicts are intercultural to an extent, since each individual person has their own personal history and experience, their own set of beliefs, values and assumptions, and ultimately, their own set of “survival skills.”
The Successful Intercultural Negotiator:
Successful intercultural negotiators are always cognizant of the fact that people do, indeed, feel, think and behave differently, while at the same time, they are equally logical and rational. Stated differently, competent intercultural negotiators recognize the differences between people while simultaneously appreciating the intrinsic rationality behind such divergent feelings thoughts and behaviors. That is to say, individuals, groups, communities, organizations and even nation states possess diverse values, beliefs and assumptions that make sense from their own perspective. Thus, effective intercultural negotiators are sensitive to the fact that each person perceives, discovers, and constructs reality — the internal and external world – in varied yet meaningful ways. They understand that difference is not threatening; indeed, it is positive, so long as the differences are managed properly.
Five Intercultural Negotiation Skills:
- EMPATHY – To be able to see the world as other people see it. To understand the behavior of others from their perspectives.
- ABILITY TO DEMONSTRATE ADVANTAGES of what one proposes so that counterparts in the negotiation will be willing to change their positions.
- ABILITY TO MANAGE STRESS AND COPE WITH AMBIGUITY as well as unpredictable demands.
- ABILITY TO EXPRESS ONE’S OWN IDEAS in ways that the people with whom one negotiates will be able to objectively and fully understand the objectives and intentions at stake.
- SENSITIVITY to the cultural background of others along with an ability to adjust one’s objectives and intentions in accordance with existing constraints and limitations.