The Intercultural Negotiators’ Training: an Intruduction to the ALM Business Method

© 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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To be able to negotiate effectively, knowing how to sell is not enough: it is necessary to develop transversal skills that favour the fluidity of communication and help us to avoid cultural barriers getting in our way. To do this we must undertake a path of deep personal training, without limiting ourselves to a superficial linguistic and cultural knowledge. So, let’s learn about one of the most effective training methods, the ALM method.

The ALM negotiation approach is characterized by: 

  1. action line flexibility, non-stereotyped negotiating strategy, creative strategy; 
  1. the negotiator’s strong emotional awareness; 
  1. the presence of strong negotiation preparation, communication training and simulation; 
  1. a holistic approach that pays attention to: 
  • a general knowledge, 
  • the know-how, but especially 
  • the negotiator’s knowledge of his/her role as a negotiator. 

This approach favours the negotiator’s/communicator’s growth, especially on the human level. 

Rather than identifying a single negotiating strategy, the ALM method invites us to ask ourselves which are the available “constellations of strategies” – using Tinsley’s term – and which of them may be more profitable. 

The ALM approach also invites us to always take into consideration the fact that misunderstandings may occur, leading us to conflicts, and to examine the inferred meaning of negotiation arguments, without automatically taking it for granted. 

The ALM method basically proposes an open, transparent and direct line of communication. However, we must remember that this method of communication cannot be applied automatically, because it cannot be considered a standard even in Western societies, where clarity and immediacy are apparently promoted (as in American society), and even less so in Eastern societies, where excessively explicit statements can lead to offenses and conflicts. 

For this reason, the intercultural negotiator must be aware of the “stress or shock “that comes from direct communication. He/she must also learn how to alleviate it, in case one decides to go for an open communication, such as for a constructive criticism or even for new communicative ways, that can be unusual for the other party.  

In this case, we are referring to the psychological pact between negotiators, in which both interlocutors, even before entering the negotiation, try to establish their own methods of communication, while sharing some negotiating rules. 

The success of intercultural negotiation therefore depends on: 

  • the ability to establish common rules, that must be followed during negotiation;  
  • the rules application consistency; 
  • the ability to change the rules when they are not practicable or effective. 

On an intercultural level, it is important to work on communication skills, and on the basic attitude of intercultural awareness. 

Working on our skills means increasing our awareness of communication tools, by understanding how to use them effectively. Working on attitudes means eliminating cultural rigidities, recognizing stereotypes and one-way approaches, knowing how to maintain a flexible and open mind, which allows us to move with awareness during a negotiation and in international contexts. 

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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For further information see:

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Negotiation Cultures, Negotiation Time Frames and Timelines (part 2)

© 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 

__________

Today I would like to continue talking about negotiation cultures, negotiation timing and timelines, focusing on the importance for the negotiator to acquire the ability to manage and structure them, so as to overcome disagreements and misunderstandings.

The roots of disagreement are to be found: 

  1. in misunderstandings: when we do not understand the signals sent by the other interlocutor, decoding them incorrectly, or  
  1. in hidden ideological divergences. 

The roots of misunderstanding lie in the complexity of human information exchange, in the technical dimension of communication. 

People who share the same culture know how to move within their own cultural timeline; they are generally able to understand the subtle differences in the use of words, non-verbal signals, gestures, bodily expressions, while those who do not share this knowledge are often outsiders. 

Communication trainers and coaches’ work on intercultural communication therefore aims to bring out the invisible level of communication, both in the national (apparently intra-cultural) and in the international dimension. 

As we can see, there are many situations that can lead a person (A) to dialogue with another person (B) starting from different and inter-cultural bases. These different starting points, if not well understood by both interlocutors, generate a latent intercultural situation that can lead to relationship ineffectiveness (in the best cases) or to conflict (in the worst case). 

At the same time, we can find cultural similarities even at a distance of tens of thousands of kilometres – a stockbroker in Milan experiences languages and problems similar to those experienced by a colleague from Paris or Sydney. 

We must therefore wake up to reality and abandon appearances (diversity is not always related to kilometric and linguistic distances, but it is always linked to a different conception of the world). 

Ideally in any conversation or negotiation, the interlocutors must be aware of the cultural differences at stake. 

Both interlocutors must understand the intercultural dimension well (high degree of understanding). However, even if only one of them possessed a high degree of intercultural awareness, the chances of improving communication could increase. 

Furthermore, being aware of the intercultural dimension can be not only a positive factor for the relationship, but also a lever of power. The power of knowledge related to intercultural communication processes becomes a practical advantage of understanding “what is happening here and now” better than the other interlocutor, and therefore determines the power of awareness

Structuring Communication and Negotiation Time Frames 

Personal time can flow through a free fluctuation of experiences, or, conversely, within rigid and structured patterns. 

There are concrete problems deriving from: 

  1. structuring times that should be left fluctuating (e.g.: over-structuring a holiday plan that should be relaxing); 
  1. not structuring time frames that should be structured (e.g.: letting a decision-making meeting – that should produce a precise outcome within an exact deadline – take place in a chaotic communicative situation). 
The Efficient Use of Negotiation Communication Time Frames. 

Each interaction is based on inner times delimiting different frames. 

The economy of interpersonal communication can bring out dysfunctions in the communication time management. 

During a negotiation, the two interlocutors do not always share communication time frames, which creates problems with efficiency and effectiveness. 

In professional meetings and critical meetings (e.g., career negotiation, trade negotiation, etc.), it is necessary to set up an efficient and effective format, to explicitly express it and share it (you can set up and negotiate the format, or else you have to endure it). 

To conclude, effective negotiation communication requires: 

  • the ability to structure negotiation times, identifying the phases through which one intends to proceed; 
  • the ability to introduce in the negotiation time structure, a structure that is adequate to our goals and a degree of adaptation to the counterpart’s culture. 
"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 

__________

For further information see:

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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 

__________

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 

__________

For further information see:

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Non-Verbal Intercultural Communication (part 2)

© 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 

__________

In this second part I would like to continue talking about non-verbal communication and its characteristics, this time focusing on training, sensory perception, personal look and colour, while explaining the importance of identifying assonances and dissonances between verbal and non-verbal language.

Training

Training on the use of paralinguistic elements means learning the strategic use of pauses and tones. It includes many repertoires of theatrical and actor techniques, such as the Stanislavskij method, probably the only one truly capable of transforming expressive behaviours.

Without adequate preparation the chances of being competitive on the negotiating level decrease. As the gap between our training level and the training level of the counterpart increases, the risk of an unfavourable outcome during a negotiation grows.

Sensory Perceptions

Some clichés spreading in multicultural college campuses are that whites “taste like chicken”, Asians “smell of garlic”, blacks “taste of sweat”, etc.

The olfactory differences on an ethnic and genetic level do exist, but the perceived smell is largely determined by cultural factors such as nutrition, cleanliness or the use of perfumes.

Personal olfactory emissions are a communication tool.

It is certain that the sense of smell affects perception, and that food produces essences that exude from the skin and breath. If we want to manage even the smallest details of intercultural negotiation and, more generally, of the human contact, we must take care of these aspects.

Anything that can be attributed to the subject or to the corporate environment affects perception and image. Some clothing chains have resorted to the targeted deodorization of shops to create a more relaxed and pleasant atmosphere (environmental olfactory marketing).

Smell is a remote sense of the human being, partially abandoned in favour of senses such as sight and hearing. Animal “noses” are able to pick up smells that signal sexual emotions or predispositions, while human noses seem to have lost this trait.

There are practical implications for conscious personal deodorization: avoid foods that can produce strong breath emissions, avoid excessive personal fragrances, be aware of personal odours (e.g. sweat) and consider the importance of olfactory environmental marketing.

Personal Look

We usually know nothing about people’s real history. We can only assume it by looking at the symbols they decide to show us. There are signs/symbols everywhere: on the interlocutor and in his/her communicative space. Symbolic communication concerns the meanings that people associate to and perceive from those particular “signs”. By communicative space we mean any area linked to the subject’s “system”, such as his/her car, or the background of his/her computer, and any other sign from which we derive information, meanings and interpretations.

From a semiotic point of view, every element from which a subject draws meaning becomes a “sign”, whether the bearer is aware of it or not.

Look, clothing and accessories are among the most incisive factors that build one’s personal image.

Differences or similarities in clothing, for example, can put a person inside a professional ingroup (“one like us”, an “equal”) or an outgroup (“one different from us”), depending of the meaning that the word “us” has for the interlocutor.

In a widened signification system, the symbols associated to the brands used, the type of car, and even the office furniture, can become very important.

chronemic behaviours (the string of actions over time) are also broadened signals related to how frequently we change clothes, punctuality, way of driving (calm or nervous), way of eating (slow and relaxed vs. fast and voracious), etc.

Even considering the time a person takes in answering a question can be significant: slow or overly thoughtful responses can be interpreted as insincere in Western cultures or wise in Eastern cultures.

It can be said that in the field of intercultural communication nothing escapes the observation of the interlocutor, and every “sign” contributes to its classification and evaluation.

Colours

An additional element of symbolic communication is colour. The use of colours and the symbolisms associated with colours also vary according to cultures.

It is not possible to list all possible associations for every colour in each country, but I would like to underline the importance of paying attention to the symbolisms associated with colours, because there are many problems that could arise when choosing colours and graphics, for example in packaging, in business gifts and in objects.

Even objects and symbols are not neutral: an Italian company, for example, used the symbol of an open hand to create the company logo and key rings, producing a wave of protests in Greece, where the open hand symbol is used to offend.

The basic principle to avoid macroscopic errors is the use of pre-tests: a “pilot test” on some member of the local culture, who are able to give a feedback on the appropriateness of colours, shapes and symbolisms within their cultural context.

The pre-test method also applies to the choice of gifts, presents, and any other symbolic action whose impact may vary on a cultural basis.

Consonances and Dissonances between Verbal and Non-Verbal Language

Non-verbal communication can reinforce the verbal message or be dissonant with it.

Listening carefully and nodding can express interest more than just a verbal statement. Saying “I’m interested” with words and expressing boredom or disgust with body actions produces a dissonant signal and creates suspicion or irritation.

The coherence (matching) between words and actions:

  • increases the subject’s perceived honesty;
  • denotes trustworthiness;
  • shows interest;
  • shows that we are in control of the situation;
  • produces a sense of security and solidity of content.

On the contrary, the incongruity:

  • creates a sense of mistrust;
  • generates a feeling of lack of authenticity;
  • produces doubts and suspicions, because the heard verbal content is considered false.

Each linguistic style (on an interpersonal level) is associated with a precise modulation of the non-verbal style. We can indeed have:

  • situations of communicative reinforcement (the non-verbal style reinforces the verbal style);
  • situations of dissonance or inconsistency between verbal and non-verbal communication: the non-verbal language is on a different register than the verbal one.

The dissonances concern every semiotic system, every sign that carries a meaning. A company that declares itself important and does not have a website, or has an amateur website, expresses an incongruent image of itself.

"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 

__________

For further information see:

Non-Verbal Intercultural Communication (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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In the next two articles we are going to deal with non-verbal communication and its characteristics: in fact, the non-verbal language can deeply affect the result of an intercultural negotiation both positively and negatively, even though it is often a neglected aspect of communication.

The main channels through which the negotiator can send messages are the paralinguistic system (vocal aspects of communication, such as tones, accents, silences, interjections), the body language (body language), and personal accessories, including clothing and the general look.

To negotiate at an intercultural level, it is necessary to create a relationship. Body movements and attitudes can strongly express the interlocutor’s satisfaction, as well as his/her disgust and emotional suffering.

We perceive the interlocutor’s attitude through his/her behaviour, rather than through the linguistic content, which remains on the relationship surface. In depth, one’s relationship is determined by body and face movements, looks, facial expressions, and, generally, by the communicator’s complete non-verbal repertoire.

The intercultural negotiator, however, must always consider the fact that some non-verbal signals cane be perceived differently by another culture, sometimes even in an opposite way.

Wrong non-verbal and body attitudes can easily lead to an escalation (rise in tension, nervousness and irritation), while the task of an intercultural negotiator is to create a de-escalation: moderation of tones, relaxed atmosphere, favourable environment for negotiation.

The general objective of every intercultural negotiation is, in fact, achieving results, but, in order to do so, a climate of cooperation is needed.

The intercultural negotiator must therefore activate some conflict de-escalation procedures, practices that lead to a non-conflictual negotiation situation.

But what are these practices? In general, each culture uses different non-verbal rules, and therefore we would need for each nation or culture with which we deal.

The problem with these “easy manuals” is their poor resistance over time (cultures evolve) and in space (cultures change even within a few kilometres). Moreover, if you take them as rules, there is a real possibility to apply stereotypes, that are no longer valid.

When there is no specific indication that come from up-to-date experts of a particular culture, we can use some general rules of good communication, which can help us reduce errors, as exposed by the Public Policy Centre of the University of Nebraska:

  • use a calm, non-aggressive tone of voice;
  • smile, express acceptance;
  • use facial expression of interest;
  • use open gestures;
  • allow the person you are talking to dictate the spatial distances (spatial distances vary widely between cultures);
  • nod, give nods of agreement;
  • focus on people and not on documents;
  • bend your body forward as a sign of interest;
  • maintain a relaxed attitude;
  • hold an L-shaped position;
  • sit by your interlocutor’s side, not in front of him/her, because that is a confrontational position.

I would like to highlight that these general rules are only “possible options” and must be adapted to culture and context.

While talking about the non-verbal language it is impossible not to mention the body language. Our body speaks, expresses emotions and feelings.

The body language concerns:

  • facial expressions;
  • nods;
  • limbs movements and gestures;
  • body movements and social distance;
  • physical contact.

Cultural differences related to this area of communication can be deep. There are no golden rules teaching us what’s best: each choice is strategic and linked to the context (“contextual appropriateness“).

Physical contact, for example, is one of the most critical elements: while some Western standards of physical contact spread throughout the entire business community (e.g. shaking hands), every culture expresses a different degree of contact during greetings and interactions.

In general, if it is not possible to collect accurate information from experts of the local culture, it is advisable to limit physical contact in order not to generate a sense of invasiveness.

The study “of observations and theories concerning the use of human space, seen as a specific elaboration of culture” (Hall, 1988) is defined by proxemics.

On the negotiation front, the implications are numerous, since every culture has unwritten rules to define the boundaries of acceptability of interpersonal distances. In this case too, resorting to experts of the local culture is fundamental. If we do not have this possibility, then a valid rule is to let the other party define their own degree of distance, without forcing either an approach or a removal.

Human critical distances have an animal basis and a strong cultural variance: for example, Arab and Latin cultures are often “closer”, while Anglo-Saxon cultures are more “distant”.

Another element of non-verbal language, that we must consider, is the paralinguistic system. Paralinguistics concerns all vocal emissions that are not strictly related to “words”, and includes:

  • tone of the voice;
  • volume;
  • silences;
  • pauses;
  • rhythm of speech;
  • interjections (short vocal emissions, like “er”, “uhm”, etc.).

Paralinguistics establishes speech punctuation and helps convey emotional information.

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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For further information see:

“Locus-of-Control” and the Construction of One’s Identity

© 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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Negotiation is not based on a free conversation, like an uncontrolled flow of thoughts expressed in words, but it must be managed and conducted. Everything must be guided in a strategic way by letting the negotiation of content be preceded by a negotiation of identity. Now, let’s take a look at its various aspects.

Each company is able to actively influence the fate of its negotiations, even though it does not determine it entirely. Negotiations do not take place in an abstract world, but in the concrete one. Regaining possession of the ability to affect one’s destiny, its present and future (increasing of the internal focus of control), is a fundamental issue, which also affects the way in which we want to shape negotiations and human relationships.

In order to avoid a possible conflict, it is necessary to recognize that we are negotiating, that we are different and that this conflict could arise any time if we don’t do something to prevent it. Diversity must be expressed explicitly, so as not to have to face repercussions.

When a negotiation starts latently, in order to acquire a negotiating awareness, the negotiator must ask himself/herself a few questions:

  • Are we both aware that we are negotiating?
  • Are we negotiating details or common ground preparational topics?
  • Am I negotiating with the right person?
  • Is the setting adequate, given the topic we are discussing? Is this the right place? Is this the right time?
  • What factors can I manipulate to set up the negotiation? What are the factors under my control? How can I bring external and situational factors back into my area of control?

The Conversation analysis allows you to define which moves and communication strategies the interlocutors use to define and negotiate their own identity.

The ALM method recognizes the necessity to divide all strategic objectives of the negotiation communication, distinguishing between:

  • Identity identification and identity sale: being recognized as the right person that can solve the problem, creating a value perception in the supplier – as a subject – in the person or in the faced role;
  • Value mix creation and product/solution selling: creating a value perception of the details of an offer.

The intercultural impression management is the art and/or ability to arouse positive impressions on one’s role (it has nothing to do with boasting importance), in order to overcome negotiation filters. All negotiators must be able to practice it, so as to become aware of their own strength and identity, of the uniqueness they possess and of their real value. However, they cannot forget to mix this self-awareness with the ability to make it emerge in communication.

Likewise, no negotiation can be successful if we are not able to sort out mutual identitiy’s boundaries, roles boundaries and the way in which we can start a cooperative dialogue.

During intercultural negotiations it is necessary to use specific conversational moves to create one’s own identity, while managing to make the other interlocutor perceive the value of that same identity as a part of the cultural context. Identity is attributed according to one’s cultural frame of mind.

We cannot assume that people are able to recognize each other’s identities automatically. “Who am I” and “Who are you” are two of the most overlooked aspects/questions in intercultural negotiations.

During business negotiations between companies, right from the very first moment of the meeting, everyone enters a weak or unconscious negotiation.

Deciding to meet at “our” company, at “their” company, or at a neutral location (and where), is already part of the negotiation process.

We use the term “weak negotiation” not because we are talking about something of little importance, but because we are referring to something weakly perceived as a real moment of negotiation. Its real importance, however, is very strong, as it sets first impressions (imprinting of the personal and corporate image) and starting positions.

The real problem is that “weak” situations, such as preliminary contacts, e-mails, phone calls, logistical messages exchanges, etc., are often not recognized as real negotiations, and they risk being underestimated.

Strong or explicit negotiations, on the other hand, concern situations in which both parties have officially stated that they are undergoing a real negotiation. For this reason, formalisms, formal bargaining mechanisms, negotiation tables, trading platforms and other open and institutionalized trading tools have already been set up.

The negotiation between companies usually take the shape of a clash between identities, ways of being and values. No company really has the same culture or the same behavioural models of other companies, however similar they may be. Diversity grows even more when physical and cultural distances become wide, as in intercontinental and in interethnic contexts.

"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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For further information see:

Conversation Analysis and Conversational Moves

© 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 we are going to introduce the concept of conversation analysis, a fundamental study that can help you improve your negotiation skills. 

To start a productive negotiation analysis, we have to distinguish between 3 different phases:

  • preparing for a negotiation” phase: briefing, data collection, interlocutors analisys, positions analisys, , preparing a list of arguments and agendas, role-playing, action lines development and testing;
  • comunication phase or front-line phase: face-to-face contact phase;
  • analysis e debriefing phase: negotiation results analysis and preparation to all next phases.

The preparation phase requires you to study the largest possible amount of information, so that you can start  the face-to face phase with a situational awareness (knowledge of the facts) and with a cultural awareness (knowledge of basic cultural elements).

The negotation phase represents the negotiating ground, the “moment of truth”, in which the most significant actions take place and, since they’re taking place during conversation, they are irreversible.

The debriefing phase is necessary to absorb information and it includes, at least:

  • a behavioral debriefing: our behaviours analysis, mistakes analysis, others’ behaviours analysis, and
  • a strategic debriefing: practical implications, results analysis, preparation of all next steps.

Negotiation usually requires different “preparation-contact-debriefing” cicles. For this reason we can assimilate it to a cyclical process.

The Conversation Analysis is one of the most useful branch of knowledge used in the communication field to understand how people interact during face-to face contacts.

From a scientific point of view the CA analyzes how people manage the conversational turns and how they try to interact, but from a practical perspective the AC possible applications are extremely rare. In fact the CA was aimed mostly at social and personal interactions and much less at dialogues between companies.

From a linguistic point of view, the ALM method, by using some concepts of the CA and numerous original additions, tries to “dismantle” the conversation by analyzing it as a set of conversational acts, to study its structure and apply it to the concrete problems of companies and organizations that have to negotiate effectively.

From the semiotic point of view, we can ask ourselves (1) what are the meanings and interpretations of meaning that each actor gives to the individual moves on a relationship level (relational semantics), and (2) what are the practical effects on the relationship itself (relational pragmatics).

Thanks to the analysis of conversational moves and of entire pieces of interaction, it is possible to help managers and negotiators (1) decoding the conversation, and (2) acquiring greater conversational skills. 

Furthermore, we can train and educate negotiators to produce a more efficient and aware conversational strategy, even within their own culture. 

The conversational moves can be defined as specific actions or “emissions” created by an interlocutor.

Some conversational moves are, for example:

  • to assert,
  • to anticipate,
  • to attack,
  • to give up a turn,
  • to ask for clarifications
  • to conquer the turn
  • etc..

Negotiation can be seen, then, as a set of moves. Each culture makes some of these repertoires its own and expands them, rejecting others, or relegating them to a few communicative areas.

In the Japanese culture, for example, saying a sharp “no” is considered a very rude act, but this does not mean that a Japanese manager can not learn saying “No” in a dry way. Relying on simple stereotypes and taking them as certainties is a mistake.

Each move is related to the subject’s previous moves and to the moves made by others.

In the intra-cultural field there are specific repertoires and coversational rules that are generally shared, while in the intercultural area the level of diversity increases, because in each culture the conversational moves are used differently.

During a negotiation, depending on the relational value, we must pay attention to:

  • approaching moves (signs of sympathy, friendship, affection, willingness to collaborate, signs of union, etc.) and 
  • distancing moves (detachment, antipathy, refusal, willingness to keep one’s distance, etc.).

If we look at the conversation contents during a negotiation, it is important to distinguish between:

  • opening moves (exploring new information, widening, broading of conversational field, etc.) and
  • closing moves (attempting to conclude, to concretize);

and also between:

  • listening moves (empathy, questions, data collection), and
  • propositional moves (statements, positions, requests).
libro "Negoziazione Interculturale" di 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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For further information see: