Negotiation Cultures, Negotiation Time Frames and Timelines (part 1)

© Article translated from the book “Negoziazione interculturale, comunicazione oltre le barriere culturali” (Intercultural Negotiation: Communication Beyond Cultural Barriers) copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available for any Publisher wishing to consider it for publication in English and other languages except for Italian and Arab whose rights are already sold and published. If you are interested in publishing the book in English, or any other language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact the author from the webstite www.danieletrevisani.com 

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The temporal dimension and the perception that each of us has of communicative time vary on a cultural basis. For this reason it is important to carefully analyse this issue and learn how to use negotiation timelines efficiently.

Negotiation is a sequence of communication activities, in which the participants commit themselves to achieve a result, only possible thanks to a form of agreement between the parties. Finding an agreement that satisfies them both, as well as understanding each other well, are therefore obvious factors of success, that take up communication time. 

Each negotiation can be considered intercultural when the participants come from different cultures, have different experiences or use different languages. 

Diversity introduces large margins of error and misunderstanding into the negotiation: any message that works in one’s own culture risks being misunderstood in other cultures. One of the dimensions of greatest cultural variability is the “sense of time” and the time management, two important factors that are also part of the negotiation timing

Each culture has its own “negotiation times” and latent negotiation practices. For Americans (generalizing a lot) what matters is the business, so, a company that was born recently, and therefore young, can be treated as a company that has existed for a century. But this culture also has other manifestations. Since what matters is the content and merit, in the US a trained university student can present his/her research or paper at a conference, alongside academics, if the work is worth it. His paper would initially be selected without even knowing who the author is (the “blind review” method). 

In Italy, on the other hand, it is important to first understand who you are dealing with (history analysis, contextualization research, network research), who this person’s “friends” or “enemies” are, who is his/her sponsor, where he/she comes from. A young “non-sponsored” student won’t be able to present his/her research in a conference beyond his/her value. Time has different values and structures. 

So, for an Italian negotiator it may be necessary to focus on the story of whoever is in front of him/her, evaluate his/her credibility, and test him/her. He/she would take small steps, moving gradually closer, before concluding something big. 

The US negotiator, on the other hand, will proceed with the subject’s potential examination and take into consideration how much he/she can gain from this agreement with this subject, finding an immediate conclusion. 

The Japanese interlocutor will analyse history and give a high importance to roles and to the respect for honour. 

The South American interlocutor will focus on spending time together and become friends, gaining trust, getting to know each other, entering the “family”. 

We must always keep in mind that these timelines are extremely variable even within the same culture. Nothing guarantees us that a Brazilian behaves according to the stereotypical timeline, becoming a “mask” of his/her own culture. 

During an intercultural negotiation, the different ways, in which we perceive physical contact can turn into confrontation, or into discomfort for both parties. 

The contrast between cultures is evident when a European goes to an African or an Asian country, but this work’s objective, its focus, is to highlight how the intercultural factor forcefully breaks into every negotiation, even those between husband and wife in the same house, or between companies of the same country. 

Whenever different cultural systems (values, beliefs, thoughts, convictions, ways of expression) come into contact, there is a certain degree of interculturality, and diversity is often much wider than we think. 

Contact between cultures can produce stress or a formidable growth for human beings. Diversity results can lead to creativity and excitement, but also to misunderstandings and disagreements. 

In the worst-case scenario, misunderstandings and disagreements generate conflict, preventing personal and common goals from being achieved. 

One of the most important advice for intercultural negotiators is to try to share a negotiating timeline, by seeking an agreement to collaborate effectively, avoiding disagreements and misunderstandings. 

To be continued…

"Intercultural Negotiation" by Daniele Trevisani

© Article translated from the book “Negoziazione interculturale, comunicazione oltre le barriere culturali” (Intercultural Negotiation: Communication Beyond Cultural Barriers) copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available for any Publisher wishing to consider it for publication in English and other languages except for Italian and Arab whose rights are already sold and published. If you are interested in publishing the book in English, or any other language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact the author from the webstite www.danieletrevisani.com 

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