October 14, 2008

How to succeed in cross-cultural negotiations

By DC Velocity Staff

Buyers and sellers walk into negotiations with certain assumptions and expectations. That's no problem when both sides speak the same language and come from the same culture. But carrying those assumptions into cross-cultural negotiations can lead to misunderstandings, mistakes, and downright disaster, according to Dalip Raheja, president and CEO of The MPower Group, an international consulting firm. That's because different cultures may seek different results from business negotiations. For example, in one large-scale study of negotiating styles, all of the Japanese executives polled said their goal in negotiating business deals was a "win-win" outcome for both parties. On the other end of the scale, just 37 percent of the Spanish respondents said an outcome benefiting both parties was their goal.

Successful negotiations will focus on fulfilling mutual interests before, during, and after negotiations, Raheja said in the session "Cross-Cultural Negotiations." To achieve that, international negotiators will need to be aware of the impact of cultural history, beliefs, social and professional status, etiquette, and priorities on approaches to negotiation. Culturally influenced ideas of time and space, nonverbal communication, and personal relationships also affect negotiating styles and the success or failure of negotiations.