Intercultural Negotiations

©Article translated by dott. ssa Vazquez Federica, 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.

In negotiating persuasion “in the field,” we may find different attitudes towards the same proposal. Imagine making a presentation with persuasive intent to propose a training course to a firm. Entrepreneur A might be enthusiastic about a staff training project, while entrepreneur B might consider it a waste of time.
The first step, then, is to understand how the item (the proposal) sits along the possible latitude (from unconditional acceptance to outright rejection, with all the possible nuances in between).
Every negotiator can benefit from practicing both (1) the latitude survey, and (2) the next step, consisting of analyzing the underlying motivations that place an item (a specific proposal) along a particular point on the latitude (e.g., extreme rejection, unconditional acceptance, or acceptance with reservations, and other possibilities). Having acknowledged the position along the continuum, it is appropriate to understand the reason for that placement.
Any persuasive activity will in fact have to confront the motives that determine that position.

Roles
• Analyst: has the task of bringing out the picture
• Interviewee: must contribute to the exploration that the analyst will attempt, in a spirit of openness
Steps
• The analyst must come up with a fairly long list of products, services, and buying ideas, and note how they rank along the continuum.
• Second step: bring out the reasons for this placement, especially in reference to the most extreme positions.
• Use the following survey sheet:

Acceptance Latitude Survey Sheet
Place proposed products along the continuum, based on the respondent’s reactions to the product. Question: “would you buy a ……” (follows proposal of a product or service, even a strange or unusual one). Explore the motive underlying the evaluation and related motives.
You would purchase a: ……

I proposed:And the reaction was.Assign a score from -100 (extreme disgust) to + 100 (absolute unconditional adherence)

In-depth analysis of choices: use
• probing (did I get that right? why, what motivation leads you to.?);
• associative techniques (what do you associate with…?);
• the belief/evaluation model: have the subject say, “I believe that ………..” (subject’s belief) and “I think this is ………” (subject’s evaluation of the belief);
• For the most positive and most negative points: in-depth analysis of motivations.

©Article translated by dott. ssa Vazquez Federica, 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.

Source:

-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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CIELS Institutional Website: https://www.ciels.it/

Germany – A Land of Immigration

Article written by Ginevra Bighini, www.interculturalnegotiation.wordpress.com; mentoring by Dr. Daniele Trevisani, www.studiotrevisani.com

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Today’s article will be about Germany and its immigration history, past and present. By observing what happened during the last 70 years, we will try to understand if people are really able to learn from their mistakes. 

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country at the intersection of Central and Western Europe, situated between the Baltic and North seas to the north, and the Alps to the south; covering an area of 357,022 square kilometres, with a population of over 83 million within its 16 constituent states. 

Germany is a great power with a strong economy. As a global leader in several industrial, scientific and technological sectors, it is both the world’s third-largest exporter and importer of goods. As a developed country, which ranks very high on the Human Development Index, it offers social security and a universal health care system, environmental protections, and a tuition-free university education. (1)

But what about immigration? 

In 2011, Germany had 80.3 million residents. Of those residents, 15.96 million – almost 19% of the entire population – had a migration background. 

Incessant wars, religious conflicts, famines, political grievances and a lack of prospects forced many people to leave Germany over the centuries. The land’s relative population loss was enormous. An estimated six million emigrants left Germany between 1820 and 1920. The tide of emigration only began to ebb, beginning in 1890, as the industrial era brought economic success to the German Empire. From that point on, the number of individuals immigrating to Germany surpassed the number of Germans who left. Foreign laborers found employment, above all, in the booming centres of the coal and steel industries. 

During the national socialist dictatorship the camps and the daily sight of forced laborers were simply part of everyday life for the local population.  

The years after 1945 were shaped by people in motion as well. The forced mobility of diverse groups of people (refugees, people expelled from their homes through territorial exchange and other so-called displaced persons) altered the structure of the German population, giving rise to tensions and conflicts with local residents. The number of refugees and expellees only first began to decline at the end of the 1940s. Simultaneously, the growing demand for labour soon outstripped the capacity of the labour force.  

In order to offset labour shortages, the federal government turned to a traditional model of recruiting and temporarily employing foreign workers, who took on jobs that German laborers considered unattractive. After the 1966-7 economic crisis, the immigration process decelerated until the early 1990s, when the numbers rapidly grew again and are continuing to grow even now. (2)

As a result of immigration, people with different cultures and traditions and greater religious diversity are now living together.  

Attitudes about successful coexistence in an immigration society differ significantly across generations: the younger the person, the less the wish for adaptation. While 66 percent of the population over 70 years of age express the opinion that immigrants should culturally adapt, this proportion gradually declines among younger groups, to 22 percent among respondents under 25 years of age.  (3)

There are still many prejudices and stereotypes about foreigners, but, in the end, the truth is that Germany profits from the immigrants. They boost the economy, contribute towards the welfare system and help reduce the lack of professionals. (2)

This doesn’t happen to Germany alone: immigration remains a profitable asset for all countries, even though many people haven’t understood that yet, and continue to regard this phenomenon as a destructive cancer. 

To those who think that I can only say that if you look at your family tree and go back to centuries, you will surely find that your ancestors migrated from a place to another. The fact is that we are all children of migrations and we must never forget it. 

Article written by Ginevra Bighini, www.interculturalnegotiation.wordpress.com; mentoring by Dr. Daniele Trevisani, www.studiotrevisani.com

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(1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germany

(2) https://domid.org/en/service/essays/essay-migration-history-in-germany/

(3) https://www.bertelsmann-stiftung.de/en/our-projects/religion-monitor/projektnachrichten/how-do-germans-deal-with-cultural-diversity/

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China’s Cultural Diversity

Article written by Ginevra Bighini, www.interculturalnegotiation.wordpress.com; mentoring by Dr. Daniele Trevisani, www.studiotrevisani.com

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Today I would like to talk about the cultural differences that can be found in the Chinese area, starting with a brief explanation of China’s History.

China is one of the biggest countries of the world and the most populated one. Understanding its history is very important to understand the global development, because some of the most decisive discoveries and inventions took place precisely in this area (e.g.: paper, printing, gunpowder, compass, etc.)

One of the most important elements of Chinese history is the Dynasties.  Emperors and Empresses from the same bloodline ruled China from 150 BCE to 1911 CE. When a dynasty was overthrown, a new one would take its place or China would be divided into different states.  These Dynasties were held together by one of the most influential ideas of though, known as Confucianism. (1)

Confucianism was developed in China by Master Kong in 551-479 BC, who was given the name Confucius by Jesuit missionaries who were visiting there. However, the fundamental principles of Confucianism began before his birth, during the Zhou Dynasty.

At that time, the ideas of respect and the well-being of others were prevalent, but there was also an emphasis on spiritual matters – specifically, the goodness of the divine and the mandate to rule given to those in power. These ideas were meant to unite the people, create stability and prevent rebellion.

Confucius believed his philosophy was also a route toward a civil society. However, he shifted attention away from ruling authorities, the divine or one’s future after death, focusing instead on the importance of daily life and human interactions. This new, refined version of the philosophy did not completely take root until the next dynasty, the Han (140-87 BC). The foundation of Confucianism is an appreciation for one’s character and the well-being of others. 

This doctrine has a complete system of moral, social, political, and religious thought, and has had a large influence on the history of Chinese civilization. (2)

In 1911, China overthrew the Qing Dynasty to form a democracy, however in 1916 the government fell apart.  This caused a great chaos leading to China being divided up into several smaller states.  Eventually, two major parties tried to reunify them: the Nationalist party, that sought for democracy, and the Communist party lead by Mao Zedong, that took control of the country after the 1949 revolution.

Mao Zedong lead multiple cultural and industrial revolutions with varying degrees of success, turning this country into a mix of Communism and Capitalism. (3)

Even though it recently got reunited, china’s cultural differences still live. Due to the many barbaric invasions that got different ethnic groups mixed up, to the different geographical features that can be found in this vast land, to constant political and economic divisions and reunifications, etc. China possesses an incredible variety of cultures.

For example China legally recognizes 56 distinct ethnic groups and 292 living languages. All these languages could communicate thanks to Chinese characters, that could be well understood all over the country.

Concerning religion, the government of the People’s Republic of China officially espouses state atheism, but over the millennia, Chinese civilization has been influenced by various religious movements, such as Taoism and Buddhism, that were combined with the doctrine of Confucianism.

Diversity can be found also in Chinese cusine. In China we have the “Eight Major Cuisines”, including Sichuan, Cantonese, Jiangsu, Shandong, Fujian, Hunan, Anhui, and Zhejiang cuisines. All of them are featured by the precise skills of shaping, heating, colorway and flavoring. Generally, China’s staple food is rice in the south, wheat-based breads and noodles in the north. Furthermore, southern cuisine, due to the area’s proximity to the ocean and milder climate, has a wide variety of seafood and vegetables, that the northern cusine do not possess. (4)

There are many other cultural differences that can be mentioned, but there is not enough space to list them all.

So, to conclude, China is an example that cultural differences do not exist only among different countries, but also inside one country. To negotiate effectively, we must be aware that even our closest neighbour, culturally speaking, can be the exact opposite of us, even though we both share the same place of origin.

Chinese Regions

(1) http://goayc.org/blog/2018/5/17/a-brief-overview-of-chinese-history

(2) https://study.com/academy/lesson/confucianism-definition-beliefs-history.html

(3) http://goayc.org/blog/2018/5/17/a-brief-overview-of-chinese-history

(4) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China

Article written by Ginevra Bighini, www.interculturalnegotiation.wordpress.com; mentoring by Dr. Daniele Trevisani, www.studiotrevisani.com

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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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China and USA: Two World Superpowers

Article written by Ginevra Bighini, www.interculturalnegotiation.wordpress.com; mentoring by Dr. Daniele Trevisani, www.studiotrevisani.com

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Today I would like to talk about USA and China relations, starting from their first official encounter, up to their recent diplomatic problems, comparing them to see why they can be called “superpowers”.

The first representatives of the Unites States visited China in 1784. A ship called the Empress of China arrived in Guangzhou (Canton) in August. The vessel’s supercargo, Samuel Shaw, had been appointed as an unofficial consul by the U.S. Congress, but he did not make contact with Chinese officials or gain diplomatic recognition for the United States. Since the 1760s all trade with Western nations had been conducted at Guangzhou through a set group of Chinese merchants with official licenses to trade. Some residents of the American colonies had engaged in the China trade before this time, but this journey marked the new nation’s entrance into the lucrative China trade in tea, porcelain, and silk. (1) 

From that moment onward USA gradually started its diplomatic and trade relations with China: sometimes they were successful and both countries gained money, obtained refined and exotic products and learned from each other, but sometimes they were not, leading them to misunderstandings, conflicts and wars. 

Nowadays this complicated relationship hasn’t changed much, meaning that successes and failures continuously interchange. 

Let’s look for example at what happened 3 years ago when the Trump administration announced sweeping tariffs on Chinese imports, worth at least $50 billion, in response to what the White House alleged was Chinese theft of U.S. technology and intellectual property. (2) 

Furthermore, in that same year U.S. Vice President Mike Pence delivered a speech marking the clearest articulation yet of the Trump administration’s policy toward China and a significant hardening of the United States’ position. Pence said the United States would prioritize competition over cooperation by using tariffs to combat “economic aggression.” He also accused China of stealing American intellectual property and interfering in U.S. elections.  

Facing these accusations China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs denounced Pence’s speech as “groundless accusations” and warned that such actions could harm U.S.-China ties. 

The trade war intensified until January 2020, when president Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He signed an agreement, that relaxed some U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports and committed China to buying an additional $200 billion worth of American goods, including agricultural products and cars, over two years. China also pledged to enforce intellectual property protections. (3) 

And then, again, we all well witnessed the Covid-19 Crisis and we are still witnessing its consequences.  

The fact that these countries’ diplomatic relations are evolving nowadays, indicates that both of them have reached a high level of economic, financial and political power, that force them to compete.  

In other words, both of them are superpowers. 

But what is a superpower? 

As Wikipedia well explains:  

“a superpower is a state with a dominant position characterized by its extensive ability to exert influence or project power on a global scale. This is done through the combined means of economic, military, technological and cultural strength as well as diplomatic and soft power influence”. (4)  

And what makes them world superpowers? 

Let’s start from the US.  

United States have a huge lead by the most important measures of national power. It is the wealthiest country with the greatest military capability. Furthermore, it has the best long-term economic growth prospects. Economists have shown that long-run growth depends on a country’s geography, demography, and political institutions and the United States have an edge in all three categories. 

Demographically, America is the only nation that is simultaneously big, young, and highly educated. The U.S. workforce is the third largest, second youngest, most educated in years of schooling, and most productive among the major powers. (5) 

And what about China? 

China, home to almost a fifth of the world’s population, is a country of superlatives. Forty years of economic growth, at an average of nearly 10% a year, has transformed the country into a global leader in technology and manufacturing. 

Its economy is now second only in size to the United States – larger if trade is taken into account – and it is home to six of the world’s megacities. 

Despite its trade dispute with the US, China enjoyed first-quarter growth of 6.4% this year, more than double the UN’s forecast for the rest of the world, and life expectancy has risen to 75 for men and 78 for women, according to the World Health Organisation. (6) 

Obviously, there are not only positive aspects, but also negative. 

USA, as well as China, must fight against corruption and inequalities. 

In USA, in the last few years, poverty has increased and democracy has been weakened by corrupted powers. China, on the other hand, still remains a dictatorship: people must endure censorships and ethnic and religious minorities still suffer repressions from the government. China’s rapid growth made it the world’s biggest producer of CO2, damaging its citizens health. 

I could go on forever talking about their pros and cons, but I must come to a conclusion. 

There are no more powerful countries than China and USA today, and we can grasp their power by looking at their complex economic and political relations, made of failures and successes. One question remains: what will the future superpower be? 

(1) https://history.state.gov/countries/issues/china-us-relations

(2) https://www.cfr.org/timeline/us-relations-china

(3) https://www.cfr.org/timeline/us-relations-china

(4) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superpower

(5) https://now.tufts.edu/articles/why-united-states-only-superpower

(6) https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/06/china-by-numbers-10-facts-to-help-you-understand-the-superpower-today/

Article written by Ginevra Bighini, www.interculturalnegotiation.wordpress.com; mentoring by Dr. Daniele Trevisani, www.studiotrevisani.com

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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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USA, an Interesting Melting Pot

Article written by Ginevra Bighini, www.interculturalnegotiation.wordpress.com; mentoring by Dr. Daniele Trevisani, www.studiotrevisani.com

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Today I would like to talk about USA and its incredible melting pot. Starting for US history, I will introduce the concept of melting pot, underling its pros and cons in the business field.

US Multicultural History

The United States are famous for the wide variety of cultures that live inside their borders. But how was this melting pot created? Let’s look at some interesting passages in the history of this country.

Before 1600 A.D. North America was inhabited by many indigenous peoples (Native Americans) with different identities, religions, beliefs and cultures, who lived in tribes. Thanks to the Atlantic Ocean, these people lived in their own world, apart from all other societies.

This period lasted only until the European colonization. In 1492 Christopher Columbus, financed by Spain, made the first of four voyages to the New World, landing in the Bahamas. From this point onward, European countries started a gradual colonization of North America. English, Spanish, French, Dutch, etc. moved to the new world in search of a new life of prosperity, each of them bringing his/her own personal culture. These many cultures got into contact with native Americans’ cultures, giving birth to a multicultural community.

Furthermore, many African slaves were forced to these areas, where their culture was added to the already existing cultural mix.

All these cultural differences brought improvements and conflicts, especially conflicts. Wars between Natives and Europeans, as well as fights among different European colonies, were quite frequent.

As we all well know, after years of inner and outer wars, USA became an independent nation in 1776, but being independent wasn’t enough to stop all conflicts derived from multiculturalism. In fact, from 1861 to 1865 America fought its Civil War, which began as a result of the unresolved controversy of the enslavement of black people and its disputed continuance.

Even though the loyalists of the Union won, putting an end to slavery, African American people had had to suffer abuse, violence, racism and racial laws for many years. Even now there are people, who are not able to accept other identities and cultures that refuse them without a concrete reason.

Before and after the two World Wars, the US welcomed a great number of immigrants from all the continents and what we have now, after years of cultural mixing and wars, is an incredible melting pot.

Melting Pot

In order to describe the concept of “melting pot” I’m going to use the perfectly summarised definition of Wikipedia:

The melting pot is a monocultural metaphor for a heterogeneous society becoming more homogeneous, the different elements “melting together” with a common culture; historically, it is often used to describe the cultural integration of immigrants to the United States. The exact term “melting pot” came into general usage in the United States after it was used as a metaphor describing a fusion of nationalities, cultures and ethnicities in the 1908 play of the same name by Israel Zangwill.” (1)

US melting pot is linked to cultural assimilation or Americanisation. This means that instead of maintaining cultural differences, USA politics prefer mixing them up, while creating a unique culture based on these multicultural features. This new unique culture represents the US identity.

But what are the pros and cons related to this attitude to multiculturality?

As we saw in US history, bringing culture together means generating innovative and original world views, as well as creating conflicts, misunderstandings and rejection. The same happens in business.

We live in a complex, interconnected world where diversity, shaped by globalization and technological advance, forms the fabric of modern society. In this era of globalization, diversity in the business environment is about more than gender, race and ethnicity. It now includes employees with diverse religious and political beliefs, education, socioeconomic backgrounds, sexual orientation, cultures and even disabilities.

Diversity in the workplace is an asset for both businesses and their employees, in its capacity to foster innovation, creativity and empathy in ways that homogeneous environments seldom do. Yet it takes careful nurturing and conscious orchestration to unleash the true potential of this invaluable asset. (2)

If these differences are not rightly managed, conflict is inevitable. Cultures will clash and business performances will be affected by this tense working atmosphere. For this reason, it is important to create a business environment that minimizes intercultural disharmony (3), while giving all employees the possibility to freely express their ideas and values, without prejudices.

To conclude, looking at the US history and at its melting pot, we can understand that without cultural awareness, there is no cultural respect. So, open your mind, feel free to express your own cultural identity, but be aware that your view of the world can be different from others and you have to accept it. Do not impose your ideas and opinions, just share them and be happy if others share their own personal cultures with you, because this cultural contact will enrich you and will give birth to a person able to see the world in many different ways, thus capable of finding original solutions to every problem.

(1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melting_pot#Melting_pot_and_cultural_pluralism

(2) https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/04/business-case-for-diversity-in-the-workplace/

(3) https://www.forbes.com/sites/hbsworkingknowledge/2013/12/09/how-cultural-conflict-undermines-workplace-creativity/

Article written by Ginevra Bighini, www.interculturalnegotiation.wordpress.com; mentoring by Dr. Daniele Trevisani, www.studiotrevisani.com

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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 

__________

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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