Intercultural Negotiation

© Article translated by dott. Martina Giannotti, CIELS Advanced Degree in Strategic Communication (“Laurea Magistrale in Comunicazione Strategica”), extracted with the author’s permission from the book “Intercultural Negotiation. Communication Beyond Cultural Barriers” (original title: “Negoziazione interculturale. Comunicare oltre le barriere culturali. Dalle relazioni interne sino alle trattative internazionali”), written by Daniele Trevisani, published by Franco Angeli, Milan.

1.1 Paralinguistic active listening techniques

Use of vocalizations such as Uhmm.. ahh…. and guttural or breathy emissions… that express interest in the “story” and facilitate expression.

The purpose of paralinguistic techniques (together with visual non-verbal techniques) is to provide phatic (contact) signals, so that the interlocutor feels that we are listening, we are present, and we are interested.

1.2. Non-verbal techniques of active listening

They use body posture to express interest:

 open posture, leaning forward to indicate availability;

 approaching and moving away (proxemics): reduce the distance to the interlocutor in moments of interest, moving away in moments of relaxation;

 facial expression: not doubtful, ironic or aggressive, but attentive and participatory;

 attentive and direct gaze;

 eyebrow movements associated with salient points of another person’s speech;

 head nods, nods of assent or denial;

 soft, slow, rolling gestures to communicate a sense of relaxation and encourage going forward in the conversation;

 nonverbal metaphors using body language, which demonstrate understanding of what the counterpart said.

At a nonverbal level, we must always consider that many cultures restrain the nonverbal expression of emotions (e.g. Asian cultures), but this is also a communicative stereotype of only probabilistic value and does not deliver certainty.

In summary, the main techniques for an effective greeting are:

  • curiosity and interest;
  • paraphrasing: repeating in one’s own words what has been understood (this is not the same as agreeing with what has been said by the other person);
  • synthesis and summaries: rephrase the “story” in its salient points to consolidate what has been gathered;
  • direct the listening through targeted questions (conversational refocusing) to clarify points that are still obscure or unclear.
  • avoid overly personal questions until a rapport has been established;
  • give the speaker the opportunity to give feedback on whether what was understood was correct, accurate or distorted.
  • read words as well as non-verbal cues to assess feelings and moods;
  • check for correct understanding of both feelings and content, do not ignore feelings;
  • not telling people how they should feel or what they should think.


-Dott. Trevisani D., Negoziazione Interculturale – Comunicazione oltre le barriere culturali. Dalle relazioni interne sino alle trattative internazionali, Franco Angeli Edizioni, 2016.

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