intercultural negotiation working communication

Conversational Cooperation and Work on The Negotiation of Meanings

© 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 result of the lack of proper negotiator training is failure

As Zorzi (1996) points out, communication requires conversational cooperation and work on the negotiation of meanings: “Analyzing intercultural encounters, we have seen how the interaction between people from different cultures is marked by a series of moments of asynchrony, which manifest themselves in silences, overlaps, unexpected reactions, interruptions, etc. which show the difficulty of establishing and maintaining conversational cooperation due to differences in cultural background and communication conventions.

Participants, normally unaware of both socio-cultural knowledge and the communicative conventions that contribute to their interpretation (and, normally, also unaware of their own conversational conventions), have only the perception of a failed encounter, the causes of which are rarely identified. They explain what happened more often in psychological terms than in sociological or cultural terms, perceiving the other person as uncooperative, aggressive, stupid, incompetent or with unpleasant personal characteristics. Repeated unsuccessful intercultural encounters with different people over time lead to the formation of negative cultural stereotypes (Chick, 1990: 253 et seq).

Zorzi reports this excerpt of real dialogue taken from Blommaert: A is the Belgian, B is the African. They are in Brussels on a winter afternoon.)

A: Do you want a coffee?

B: No, thanks, I’m not hungry.

A: Do you want a COFFEE?

B: No, thanks. (short pause) I’m not hungry. (long pause)

A: Would you like to go for a drink? B: Sure, with pleasure, it’s really cold. A: Maybe a coffee?

B: Well, gladly.

As Zorzi points out, there are strong cultural and strategic implications at the base of this excerpt of communication difficulties: B reacts to the initial question as if he had been offered food, as in his culture (Haya, in northern Tanzania) guests are offered coffee beans to chew as a symbol of friendship, hospitality and wealth. Consequently, B’s categorization of coffee as “food” is entirely consistent.

The categorization of the Belgian, on the other hand, is “hot drink”. The first two bars of the dialogue highlight the difference between the two conceptions, which leads to a pragmalinguistic misunderstanding … Three phases can be identified in this exchange: a first of “observation” of what is happening, in which the participants become aware of the failure of communication: their contributions are perfectly consistent with their cultural assumptions, but do not work in that situation ; a second phase follows, the ‘search for a common ground‘ in which A avoids the problematic element (coffee).

Both then agree on ‘have a drink’. At this point the ‘dialogue’ phase begins: the idea of ​​going for something hot is explicitly appreciated and a common basis has been created to accept the idea of ​​coffee as a drink. This example shows how intercultural competence consists in achieving mutual adaptation (and not just the adaptation of the learner to the linguistic and cultural models of the host country). The primary objective of intercultural pedagogy – consequently – is to find teaching strategies so that subjects of different cultural origins can learn to communicate with each other regardless of differences in language, cultural behavior and beliefs.

The focus therefore shifts from the work that the single learner does to the way in which two people from different cultures manage to negotiate meanings and relationships through a linguistic medium in which they have very unbalanced skills. There is therefore a linguistic common ground that allows negotiators to get out of the impasse of the lack of a shared vocabulary. Trying to share the meaning of the terms, to get out of “semantic indeterminacy”, “semantic confusion”, “connotative shadows” is one of the main tools of the intercultural negotiator.

interc

© 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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intercultural negotiation working communication

Compatibility and training of human resources for negotiation

Article translated from the text “Negoziazione interculturale, comunicazione oltre le barriere culturali”, copyright FrancoAngeli Editore and Dr. Daniele Trevisani Business Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission.

The ALM method

In every team there is a problem of selection (how to enter, what characteristics have those who enter) and training (how to grow team members). When the first phase is wrong, when people are poorly selected, mistakes have a chain effect. Training generally aims to increase existing performance and knowledge (incremental training), and is rarely used with the aim of acting in depth on the personality to change it (transformational training).

In the ALM method, we aim to draw on both models, but it is necessary to be aware that even the most incisive of transformational techniques does not change the genetic parameters, for example, and the selection of subjects remains important. In extreme environments, the American Institute of Medicine has begun to seriously study the “Crew performance breakdown” between astronauts forced to live together in a limited space for a long time. Many air and space accidents were caused by the dynamics of incommunicability between the crew (intragroup incommunicability) or between crew and other crews (crew: working groups, crews) – such as ground controllers – (intergroup incommunicability).

For these reasons, NASA’s Human Factors Research and Technology Division has included additional selection criteria to minimize the risks of intra-group incommunicability starting from the selection of human resources, thus evaluating not only scientific skills but also interpersonal and communication skills. This selection and adequate intercultural training are also considered indispensable for the space missions of the future characterized by intercultural crews. Furthermore, among the selection criteria, no longer only individual skills are evaluated, but an analysis of “compatibility” is carried out (compatibility with the group and the ability to live in the group).

In other words, it has been discovered that some astronauts can be excellent “astronauts” from a technical and scientific point of view, but unsuitable for dealing with diversity, sustaining a relationship with other cultures, and therefore cannot be part of multicultural space crews. A little annoying behavior, repeated for days on end, is enough to generate nervousness and irritation. For companies, there is an implication: (1) not everyone is fit to negotiate, and (2) even less so interculturally. Any intercultural communication mistake made by a salesperson operating abroad (eg: an area manager) or by an entrepreneur, can mean one less contract. Companies and organizations must be aware of this when choosing their commercial or institutional representatives.

Too often, product preparation is confused with an alleged ability to negotiate and communicate. The two are absolutely different. Intercultural negotiators must be properly selected based on their capacity for openness to different cultures, mental flexibility and communication skills, and not only on the basis of their business experience or product preparation.

Principle 2 – Selection of intercultural negotiators The success of intercultural negotiation depends on the organization’s ability to select, with respect to the parameters of:

  • openness to dialogue;
  • open-mindedness and ability to deal with diversity;
  • preparation on general negotiation techniques and openness to one’s own negotiation training as a development lever;
  • specific preparation on intercultural negotiation techniques and openness to one’s own intercultural training;
  • ability to draw on flexible and adaptive communicative repertoires, knowing how to adapt to the different cultures with which it has to interact.

So it doesn’t matter to be in a team of American, Chinese and Russian astronauts – in space – to deal with incommunicability and intercultural difficulties. Studies on intercultural communication affect everyone – schools, education, the family, the company. They explore, for example, new tools of intercultural mentorship (support for intercultural adaptation) and the strategies used by mentors to improve intercultural skills, or the problems of World Business and economic globalization, its implications on negotiation between people belonging to different cultures .

These studies analyze the problems of stereotypes, of changes in mutual perception caused by the experiences of direct interaction, of the frustration or confusion experienced in cross-cultural business interactions.

intercultural negotiation

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