Areas and Expected Results in the Negotiator’s Communication Training

© 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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In the following article I would like to conclude the topic of negotiation communication training, by listing, in a more detailed way, the interpersonal communicative abilities, explaining the importance of culture shock and self-awareness acquisition.

  • Code Switching: the negotiator must manage the change of communication codes (linguistic code and non-verbal code), in order to adapt to the interlocutor. Making your interlocutor understand you requires an active effort of adaptation, a willingness to change your repertoire and to get closer to other people. Whoever imposes a one-way adaptation effort on the interlocutor (one-way adaptation) and does not think about others understanding him/her, automatically creates barriers to communication.
  • Topic Shifting: the change of subject. The negotiator must understand which techniques need to be adopted to slip from unproductive conversations, to get away from dangerous or useless topics, to avoid touching critical points of other cultures, creating offense, resentment or stiffening. These skills – like other abilities – are useful in every communicative context, such as in a communication between friends, colleagues, companies, as well as in diplomatic communication.
  • Turn Taking: conversational turns management. There are certain cultures that accept others to interfere in their speech, and others in which the respect for speaking turns is essential. Turn taking includes conversational turns management skills, turn taking abilities, turn defence skills, turn transfer abilities, the capability of open and close conversational lines, etc. All these techniques need to be refined for both intra- and inter-cultural communication.
  • Self-monitoring: the ability to self-analyse, to understand how we are communicating (which style we are using), to recognize internal emotional states, one’s own tiredness, or frustration, or joy, expectation or disgust, knowing how to recognize those inner emotions that animate us during conversation or negotiation.
  • Others-monitoring: the ability to analyse and decode the inner emotional states of our interlocutors, to recognize his/her state of fatigue, energy, euphoria, dejection, etc., to know how to perceive the participants mutual influences, to grasp the power relations in the counterpart groups and to understand the degree of interest in our proposals and the right moment for closing.
  • Empathy: the ability to understand others’ points of view, from within their value systems and cultural contexts and to understand the value of their communicative moves based on the culture that generates them.
  • Linguistic Competence: the ability to use language, choice of words and repertoires, showing a deep knowledge of the language.
  • Paralinguistic Competence: the ability to use and strategically manage the non-verbal elements of speech, such as tones, pauses, silences, etc.
  • Kinesic Competence: the ability to communicate through body movements (body language). Movements management can be one of the strongest traps in intercultural communication, where some cultures – such as the Italian one – normally use broad body movements and gesticulations, while others – such as oriental cultures- use a greater demeanour, while retaining their body expressions.
  • Proxemic Competence: the ability to communicate through space and personal distances management. For example, Latin and Arab cultures accept and consider closer interpersonal distances normal, while northern European cultures don’t.
  • Socio-environmental Decoding Competence: the ability to interpret and understand “what is happening here” in relation to what is taking place during the conversation or the interaction. The negotiator must know how to recognize a conflict within the members of the counterpart group (intra-group conflict) and how to grasp the different positions, the trajectories of approach and relaxation, the different roles assumed and the moves of the interlocutors.

Both intra-cultural and intercultural negotiators need to be prepared for Reality Shock (or culture shock). Reality Shock can arise from the sudden realization that:

  1. others don’t follow our rules;
  2. others have different background values;
  3. others don’t have the same goals as we do;
  4. others do not behave like us, or even like we want them to behave;
  5. some negotiators are in bad faith and dishonest: they do not seek a win-win approach, but only a personal advantage;
  6. even with the greatest amount of goodwill, some negotiations escape comprehensibility and observable behaviours do not fit into rational logic.

The difference between an experienced negotiator and an apprentice negotiator is the degree of damage that reality shock does: low or zero for the expert, devastating for the apprentice.

The clash with reality can cause a shock, which can be followed by:

  1. a positive process, reached thanks to the analysis of diversity, the acceptance of what can be accepted (without running into the extremes of radical unconditional acceptance), that leads the negotiator to improve his/her own cultural knowledge; or…
  2. a negative process, caused by a fall of the emotional state, a rejection of reality that leads the negotiator to take refuge in his/her own cultural arena. The result, in this case, is often a withdrawal.

In order to activate a positive process of growth, and not a negative process of involution, it is necessary to work on our self-awareness (“Knowing how to Be”) of negotiation, through:

  • Cognitive Learning & Knowledge Acquisition: learning the contents that characterize the culture with which we want to interact.
  • Cognitive Restructuring: transforming our perception of the communicative act itself from an anxiogenic element to a source of positive energy. This practice requires the identification of negative self-statements (e.g.: “it will definitely go wrong”, “I am unsuitable”, “I will not succeed”, etc.), that must be replaced by positive self-statements, (e.g.: “let’s see if we have the right conditions for doing business”,” let’s go and compare our mutual positions without fear”, or even” let’s help the customer understand how we think”). The analysis of self-statements therefore consists in working on how we “enter” the negotiation, on what animates us.
  •  Behavioural Learning & Communication Skills Acquisition: learning the skills necessary to “perform” or achieve a specific behavioural or communicative goal, by using dramaturgical and expressive techniques and relational dynamics.
  • Emotional Control Skills: developing some necessary emotions management skills, with which one can direct his/her own emotional energies in positive directions, recognize and remove negotiation stress, “recharge his/her batteries” and manage personal times, in order to take part in a negotiation in optimal psychophysical conditions.
"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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