Resilience. What it really is and why it is so important

Resilience is the ability to mentally or emotionally cope with a crisis or to return to pre-crisis status quickly.[1] Resilience exists when the person uses “mental processes and behaviors in promoting personal assets and protecting self from the potential negative effects of stressors”.[2] In simpler terms, psychological resilience exists in people who develop psychological and behavioral capabilities that allow them to remain calm during crises/chaos and to move on from the incident without long-term negative consequences.

Background

Resilience is generally thought of as a “positive adaptation” after a stressful or adverse situation.[3] When a person is “bombarded by daily stress, it disrupts their internal and external sense of balance, presenting challenges as well as opportunities.” However, the routine stressors of daily life can have positive impacts which promote resilience. It is still unknown what the correct level of stress is for each individual. Some people can handle greater amounts of stress than others. According to Germain and Gitterman (1996), stress is experienced in an individual’s life course at times of difficult life transitions, involving developmental and social change; traumatic life events, including grief and loss; and environmental pressures, encompassing poverty and community violence.[4] Resilience is the integrated adaptation of physical, mental and spiritual aspects in a set of “good or bad” circumstances, a coherent sense of self that is able to maintain normative developmental tasks that occur at various stages of life.[5] The Children’s Institute of the University of Rochester explains that “resilience research is focused on studying those who engage in life with hope and humor despite devastating losses”.[6] It is important to note that resilience is not only about overcoming a deeply stressful situation, but also coming out of the said situation with “competent functioning”. Resiliency allows a person to rebound from adversity as a strengthened and more resourceful person.[5] Aaron Antonovsky in 1979 stated that when an event is appraised as comprehensible (predictable), manageable (controllable), and somehow meaningful (explainable) a resilient response is more likely.[7][8]

History

The first research on resilience was published in 1973. The study used epidemiology, which is the study of disease prevalence, to uncover the risks and the protective factors that now help define resilience.[9] A year later, the same group of researchers created tools to look at systems that support development of resilience.[10]

Emmy Werner was one of the early scientists to use the term resilience in the 1970s. She studied a cohort of children from KauaiHawaii. Kauai was quite poor and many of the children in the study grew up with alcoholic or mentally ill parents. Many of the parents were also out of work.[11] Werner noted that of the children who grew up in these detrimental situations, two-thirds exhibited destructive behaviors in their later teen years, such as chronic unemployment, substance abuse, and out-of-wedlock births (in case of teenage girls). However, one-third of these youngsters did not exhibit destructive behaviours. Werner called the latter group ‘resilient’.[12] Thus, resilient children and their families were those who, by definition, demonstrated traits that allowed them to be more successful than non-resilient children and families.

Resilience also emerged as a major theoretical and research topic from the studies of children with mothers diagnosed with schizophrenia in the 1980s.[13] In a 1989 study,[14] the results showed that children with a schizophrenic parent may not obtain an appropriate level of comforting caregiving—compared to children with healthy parents—and that such situations often had a detrimental impact on children’s development. On the other hand, some children of ill parents thrived well and were competent in academic achievement, and therefore led researchers to make efforts to understand such responses to adversity.

Since the onset of the research on resilience, researchers have been devoted to discovering the protective factors that explain people’s adaptation to adverse conditions, such as maltreatment,[15] catastrophic life events,[16] or urban poverty.[17] The focus of empirical work then has been shifted to understand the underlying protective processes. Researchers endeavor to uncover how some factors (e.g. connection to family) may contribute to positive outcomes.[17]

Process

In all these instances, resilience is best understood as a process. However, it is often mistakenly assumed to be a trait of the individual, an idea more typically referred to as “resiliency”.[18] Most research now shows that resilience is the result of individuals being able to interact with their environments and the processes that either promote well-being or protect them against the overwhelming influence of risk factors.[19]

It is essential to understand the process or this cycle of resiliency. When people are faced with an adverse condition, there are three ways in which they may approach the situation:

  1. Erupt with anger
  2. Implode with overwhelming negative emotions, go numb, and become unable to react
  3. Simply become upset about the disruptive change

Only the third approach promotes well-being. It is employed by resilient people, who become upset about the disruptive state and thus change their current pattern to cope with the issue. The first and second approaches lead people to adopt the victim role by blaming others and rejecting any coping methods even after the crisis is over. These people prefer to instinctively react, rather than respond to the situation. Those who respond to the adverse conditions by adapting tend to cope, spring back, and halt the crisis. Negative emotions involve fear, anger, anxiety, distress, helplessness, and hopelessness which decrease a person’s ability to solve the problems they face and weaken a person’s resiliency. Constant fears and worries weaken people’s immune systems and increase their vulnerability to illnesses.[20]

These processes include individual continuous coping strategies, or may be helped by a protective environment like good families, schools, communities, and social policies that make resilience more likely to occur.[21] In this sense “resilience” occurs when there are cumulative “protective factors”. These factors are likely to play a more important role, the greater the individual’s exposure to cumulative risk factors.

Biological models

Three notable bases for resilience—self-confidenceself-esteem and self-concept—all have roots in three different nervous systems—respectively, the somatic nervous system, the autonomic nervous system and the central nervous system.[22]

An emerging field in the study of resilience is the neurobiological basis of resilience to stress.[23] For example, neuropeptide Y (NPY) and 5-Dehydroepiandrosterone (5-DHEA) are thought to limit the stress response by reducing sympathetic nervous system activation and protecting the brain from the potentially harmful effects of chronically elevated cortisol levels respectively.[24] Research indicates that like trauma, resilience is influenced by epigenetic modifications. Increased DNA methylation of the growth factor Gdfn in certain brain regions promotes stress resilience, as does molecular adaptations of the blood brain barrier.[25] The two primary neurotransmitters responsible for stress buffering within the brain are dopamine and endogenous opioids as evidenced by current research showing that dopamine and opioid antagonists increased stress response in both humans and animals.[26] Primary and secondary rewards reduce negative reactivity of stress in the brain in both humans and animals.[27] For example, rats who were given a sweet drink showed lower distress to a stressor involving social isolation and increased pain tolerance.[28] Interestingly, the same effect was found in human infants given a sweet drink who subsequently showed less distress to painful medical procedures, such as blood draws.[29] In terms of more chronic stressors such as symptoms of depression, a secondary reward of social support increased dopamine and opiod activity, resulting in reduced depressive symptoms.[30] Additionally, the relationship between social support and stress resilience is thought to be mediated by the oxytocin system’s impact on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.[31] “Resilience, conceptualized as a positive bio-psychological adaptation, has proven to be a useful theoretical context for understanding variables for predicting long-term health and well-being”.[32][33]

Related factor

Studies show that there are several factors which develop and sustain a person’s resilience:[34]

  1. The ability to make realistic plans and being capable of taking the steps necessary to follow through with them
  2. Confidence in one’s strengths and abilities
  3. Communication and problem-solving skills
  4. The ability to manage strong impulses and feelings

Resilience is negatively correlated with personality traits of neuroticism and negative emotionality, which represents tendencies to see and react to the world as threatening, problematic, and distressing, and to view oneself as vulnerable. Positive correlations stands with personality traits of openness and positive emotionality, that represents tendencies to engage and confront the world with confidence in success and a fair value to self-directedness.[35]

Positive emotions

There is significant research found in scientific literature on the relationship between positive emotions and resilience. Studies show that maintaining positive emotions whilst facing adversity promote flexibility in thinking and problem solving. Positive emotions serve an important function in their ability to help an individual recover from stressful experiences and encounters. That being said, maintaining a positive emotionality aids in counteracting the physiological effects of negative emotions. It also facilitates adaptive coping, builds enduring social resources, and increases personal well-being.[36]

The formation of conscious perception and the monitoring of one’s own socioemotional factors is considered a stabile aspect of positive emotions.[37] This is not to say that positive emotions are merely a by-product of resilience, but rather that feeling positive emotions during stressful experiences may have adaptive benefits in the coping process of the individual.[38] Empirical evidence for this prediction arises from research on resilient individuals who have a propensity for coping strategies that concretely elicit positive emotions, such as benefit-finding and cognitive reappraisal, humor, optimism, and goal-directed problem-focused coping. Individuals who tend to approach problems with these methods of coping may strengthen their resistance to stress by allocating more access to these positive emotional resources.[39] Social support from caring adults encouraged resilience among participants by providing them with access to conventional activities.[40]

Positive emotions not only have physical outcomes but also physiological ones. Some physiological outcomes caused by humor include improvements in immune system functioning and increases in levels of salivary immunoglobulin A, a vital system antibody, which serves as the body’s first line of defense in respiratory illnesses.[41][42] Moreover, other health outcomes include faster injury recovery rate and lower readmission rates to hospitals for the elderly, and reductions in a patient’s stay in the hospital, among many other benefits. A study was done on positive emotions in trait-resilient individuals and the cardiovascular recovery rate following negative emotions felt by those individuals. The results of the study showed that trait-resilient individuals experiencing positive emotions had an acceleration in the speed in rebounding from cardiovascular activation initially generated by negative emotional arousal, i.e. heart rate and the like.[38]

Forgiveness is also said to play a role in predicting resilience, among patients with chronic pain (but not the severity of the pain).[43]

Other factors

A study was conducted among high-achieving professionals who seek challenging situations that require resilience. Research has examined 13 high achievers from various professions, all of whom had experienced challenges in the workplace and negative life events over the course of their careers but who had also been recognized for their great achievements in their respective fields. Participants were interviewed about everyday life in the workplace as well as their experiences with resilience and thriving. The study found six main predictors of resilience: positive and proactive personality, experience and learning, sense of control, flexibility and adaptability, balance and perspective, and perceived social support. High achievers were also found to engage in many activities unrelated to their work such as engaging in hobbies, exercising, and organizing meetups with friends and loved ones.[44]

Several factors are found to modify the negative effects of adverse life situations. Many studies show that the primary factor for the development of resilience is social support.[45][46][47] While many competing definitions of social support exist, most can be thought of as the degree of access to, and use of, strong ties to other individuals who are similar to one’s self.[48] Social support requires not only that you have relationships with others, but that these relationships involve the presence of solidarity and trust, intimate communication, and mutual obligation[49] both within and outside the family.[46] Additional factors are also associated with resilience, like the capacity to make realistic plans, having self-confidence and a positive self image,[50] developing communications skills, and the capacity to manage strong feelings and impulses.[51]

Temperamental and constitutional disposition is considered as a major factor in resilience. It is one of the necessary precursors of resilience along with warmth in family cohesion and accessibility of prosocial support systems.[52] There are three kinds of temperamental systems that play part in resilience, they are the appetitive system, defensive system and attentional system.[53]

Another protective factor is related to moderating the negative effects of environmental hazards or a stressful situation in order to direct vulnerable individuals to optimistic paths, such as external social support. More specifically a 1995 study distinguished three contexts for protective factors:[54]

  1. personal attributes, including outgoing, bright, and positive self-concepts;
  2. the family, such as having close bonds with at least one family member or an emotionally stable parent; and
  3. the community, such as receiving support or counsel from peers.

Furthermore, a study of the elderly in Zurich, Switzerland, illuminated the role humor plays as a coping mechanism to maintain a state of happiness in the face of age-related adversity.[55]

Besides the above distinction on resilience, research has also been devoted to discovering the individual differences in resilience. Self-esteem, ego-control, and ego-resiliency are related to behavioral adaptation.[56] For example, maltreated children who feel good about themselves may process risk situations differently by attributing different reasons to the environments they experience and, thereby, avoid producing negative internalized self-perceptions. Ego-control is “the threshold or operating characteristics of an individual with regard to the expression or containment”[57] of their impulses, feelings, and desires. Ego-resilience refers to “dynamic capacity, to modify his or her model level of ego-control, in either direction, as a function of the demand characteristics of the environmental context”[58]

Maltreated children who experienced some risk factors (e.g., single parenting, limited maternal education, or family unemployment), showed lower ego-resilience and intelligence than nonmaltreated children. Furthermore, maltreated children are more likely than nonmaltreated children to demonstrate disruptive-aggressive, withdraw, and internalized behavior problems. Finally, ego-resiliency, and positive self-esteem were predictors of competent adaptation in the maltreated children.[56]

Demographic information (e.g., gender) and resources (e.g., social support) are also used to predict resilience. Examining people’s adaptation after disaster showed women were associated with less likelihood of resilience than men. Also, individuals who were less involved in affinity groups and organisations showed less resilience.[59]

Certain aspects of religions, spirituality, or mindfulness may, hypothetically, promote or hinder certain psychological virtues that increase resilience. Research has not established connection between spirituality and resilience. According to the 4th edition of Psychology of Religion by Hood, et al., the “study of positive psychology is a relatively new development…there has not yet been much direct empirical research looking specifically at the association of religion and ordinary strengths and virtues”.[60] In a review of the literature on the relationship between religiosity/spirituality and PTSD, amongst the significant findings, about half of the studies showed a positive relationship and half showed a negative relationship between measures of religiosity/spirituality and resilience.[61] The United States Army has received criticism for promoting spirituality in its new Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program as a way to prevent PTSD, due to the lack of conclusive supporting data.

In military studies it has been found that resilience is also dependent on group support: unit cohesion and morale is the best predictor of combat resiliency within a unit or organization. Resilience is highly correlated to peer support and group cohesion. Units with high cohesion tend to experience a lower rate of psychological breakdowns than units with low cohesion and morale. High cohesion and morale enhance adaptive stress reactions.[62]

Building Resilience

In cognitive behavioral therapy, building resilience is a matter of mindfully changing basic behaviors and thought patterns.[63] The first step is to change the nature of self-talk. Self-talk is the internal monologue people have that reinforce beliefs about the person’s self-efficacy and self-value. To build resilience, the person needs to eliminate negative self-talk, such as “I can’t do this” and “I can’t handle this”, and to replace it with positive self-talk, such as “I can do this” and “I can handle this”. This small change in thought patterns helps to reduce psychological stress when a person is faced with a difficult challenge. The second step a person can take to build resilience is to be prepared for challenges, crises, and emergencies.[64] In business, preparedness is created by creating emergency response plans, business continuity plans, and contingency plans. For personal preparedness, the individual can create a financial cushion to help with economic crises, he/she can develop social networks to help him/her through trying personal crises, and he/she can develop emergency response plans for his/her household.

Resilience is also enhanced by developing effective coping skills for stress.[65] Coping skills help the individual to reduce stress levels, so they remain functional. Coping skills include using meditation, exercise, socialization, and self-care practices to maintain a healthy level of stress, but there are many other lists associated with psychological resilience.

The American Psychological Association suggests “10 Ways to Build Resilience”,[34] which are:

  1. to maintain good relationshipswith close family members, friends and others;
  2. to avoid seeing crisesor stressful events as unbearable problems;
  3. to accept circumstances that cannot be changed;
  4. to develop realistic goalsand move towards them;
  5. to take decisive actions in adverse situations;
  6. to look for opportunities for self-discovery after a struggle with loss;
  7. to develop self-confidence;
  8. to keep a long-term perspective and consider the stressful event in a broader context;
  9. to maintain a hopeful outlook, expecting good things and visualizingwhat is wished;
  10. to take care of one’s mindand bodyexercisingregularly, paying attention to one’s own needs and feelings.

The Besht model of natural resilience building in an ideal family with positive access and support from family and friends, through parenting illustrates four key markers. They are:

  1. Realistic upbringing
  2. Effective risk communications
  3. Positivity and restructuring of demanding situations
  4. Building self efficacy and hardiness

In this model, self-efficacy is the belief in one’s ability to organize and execute the courses of action required to achieve necessary and desired goals and hardiness is a composite of interrelated attitudes of commitment, control, and challenge.

A number of self-help approaches to resilience-building have been developed, drawing mainly on the theory and practice of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT).[66] For example, a group cognitive-behavioral intervention, called the Penn Resiliency Program (PRP), has been shown to foster various aspects of resilience. A meta-analysis of 17 PRP studies showed that the intervention significantly reduces depressive symptoms over time.[67]

The idea of ‘resilience building’ is debatably at odds with the concept of resilience as a process,[68] since it is used to imply that it is a developable characteristic of oneself.[69] Those who view resilience as a description of doing well despite adversity, view efforts of ‘resilience building’ as method to encourage resilience. Bibliotherapy, positive tracking of events, and enhancing psychosocial protective factors with positive psychological resources are other methods for resilience building.[70] In this way, increasing an individual’s resources to cope with or otherwise address the negative aspects of risk or adversity is promoted, or builds, resilience.[71]

Contrasting research finds that strategies to regulate and control emotions, in order to enhance resilience, allows for better outcomes in the event of mental illness.[72] While initial studies of resilience originated with developmental scientists studying children in high-risk environments, a study on 230 adults diagnosed with depression and anxiety that emphasized emotional regulation, showed that it contributed to resilience in patients. These strategies focused on planning, positively reappraising events, and reducing rumination helped in maintaining a healthy continuity.[72][clarification needed] Patients with improved resilience were found to yield better treatment outcomes than patients with non-resilience focused treatment plans,[72] providing potential information for supporting evidence based psychotherapeutic interventions that may better handle mental disorders by focusing on the aspect of psychological resilience.

Other development programs

See also: Compensatory education

The Head Start program was shown to promote resilience.[73] So was the Big Brothers Big Sisters Programme, the Abecedarian Early Intervention Project,[74][75] and social programs for youth with emotional or behavioral difficulties.[76]

The Positive Behavior Supports and Intervention program is a successful trauma-informed, resilience-based for elementary age students with four components.[77] These four elements include positive reinforcements such as encouraging feedback, understanding that behavior is a response to unmet needs or a survival response, promoting belonging, mastery and independence, and finally, creating an environment to support the student through sensory tools, mental health breaks and play. [78]

Tuesday’s Children,[79] a family service organization that made a long-term commitment to the individuals that have lost loved ones to 9/11 and terrorism around the world, works to build psychological resilience through programs such as Mentoring and Project COMMON BOND, an 8-day peace-building and leadership initiative for teens, ages 15–20, from around the world who have been directly impacted by terrorism.[80]

Military organizations test personnel for the ability to function under stressful circumstances by deliberately subjecting them to stress during training. Those students who do not exhibit the necessary resilience can be screened out of the training. Those who remain can be given stress inoculation training. The process is repeated as personnel apply for increasingly demanding positions, such as special forces.[81]

Children

Resilience in children refers to individuals who are doing better than expected, given a history that includes risk or adverse experience. Once again, it is not a trait or something that some children simply possess. There is no such thing as an ‘invulnerable child’ that can overcome any obstacle or adversity that he or she encounters in life—and in fact, the trait is quite common.[69] All children share the uniqueness of an upbringing, experiences which could be positive or negative. Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s) are events which occur in a child’s life that could lead to maladaptive symptoms such as feeling tension, low mood, repetitive and recurring thoughts, and avoidance.[82][83] The psychological resilience to overcome adverse events is not the sole explanation of why some children experience post-traumatic growth and some do not.[83] Resilience is the product of a number of developmental processes over time, that has allowed children experience small exposures to adversity or some sort of age appropriate challenges to develop mastery and continue to develop competently.[84] This gives children a sense of personal pride and self-worth.[85]

Research on ‘protective factors’, which are characteristics of children or situations that particularly help children in the context of risk has helped developmental scientists to understand what matters most for resilient children. Two of these that have emerged repeatedly in studies of resilient children are good cognitive functioning (like cognitive self-regulation and IQ) and positive relationships (especially with competent adults, like parents).[86] Children who have protective factors in their lives tend to do better in some risky contexts when compared to children without protective factors in the same contexts. However, this is not a justification to expose any child to risk. Children do better when not exposed to high levels of risk or adversity.

Building in the classroom

Resilient children within classroom environments have been described as working and playing well and holding high expectations, have often been characterized using constructs such as locus of controlself-esteemself-efficacy, and autonomy.[87] All of these things work together to prevent the debilitating behaviors that are associated with learned helplessness.

Role of the community

Communities play a huge role in fostering resilience. The clearest sign of a cohesive and supportive community is the presence of social organizations that provide healthy human development.[88] Services are unlikely to be used unless there is good communication concerning them. Children who are repeatedly relocated do not benefit from these resources, as their opportunities for resilience-building, meaningful community participation are removed with every relocation.[89]

Role of the family

Fostering resilience in children is favored in family environments that are caring and stable, hold high expectations for children’s behavior and encourage participation in the life of the family.[90] Most resilient children have a strong relationship with at least one adult, not always a parent, and this relationship helps to diminish risk associated with family discord. The definition of parental resilience, as the capacity of parents to deliver a competent and quality level of parenting to children, despite the presence of risk factors, has proven to be a very important role in children’s resilience. Understanding the characteristics of quality parenting is critical to the idea of parental resilience.[32] Even if divorce produces stress, the availability of social support from family and community can reduce this stress and yield positive outcomes.[91] Any family that emphasizes the value of assigned chores, caring for brothers or sisters, and the contribution of part-time work in supporting the family helps to foster resilience.[12] Resilience research has traditionally focused on the well being of children, with limited academic attention paid to factors that may contribute to the resilience of parents.[32]

Families in poverty

Numerous studies have shown that some practices that poor parents utilize help promote resilience within families. These include frequent displays of warmth, affection, emotional support; reasonable expectations for children combined with straightforward, not overly harsh discipline; family routines and celebrations; and the maintenance of common values regarding money and leisure.[92] According to sociologist Christopher B. Doob, “Poor children growing up in resilient families have received significant support for doing well as they enter the social world—starting in daycare programs and then in schooling.”[93]

Bullying[

Beyond preventing bullying, it is also important to consider how interventions based on emotional intelligence (EI) are important in the case that bullying does occur. Increasing EI may be an important step in trying to foster resilience among victims. When a person faces stress and adversity, especially of a repetitive nature, their ability to adapt is an important factor in whether they have a more positive or negative outcome.[94]

A 2013 study examined adolescents who illustrated resilience to bullying and found some interesting gendered differences, with higher behavioral resilience found among girls and higher emotional resilience found among boys. Despite these differences, they still implicated internal resources and negative emotionality in either encouraging or being negatively associated with resilience to bullying respectively and urged for the targeting of psychosocial skills as a form of intervention.[95] Emotional intelligence has been illustrated to promote resilience to stress[96] and as mentioned previously, the ability to manage stress and other negative emotions can be preventative of a victim going on to perpetuate aggression.[97] One factor that is important in resilience is the regulation of one’s own emotions.[94] Schneider et al. (2013) found that emotional perception was significant in facilitating lower negative emotionality during stress and Emotional Understanding facilitated resilience and has a positive correlation with positive affect.[96]

Studies in specific populations and causal situations

Affected populations

Among transgender youth

Transgender youth experience a wide range of abuse and lack of understanding from the people in their environment and are better off with a high resilience to deal with their lives. A study was done looking at 55 transgender youths studying their sense of personal mastery, perceived social support, emotion-oriented coping and self-esteem. It was seen that around 50% of the variation in the resilience aspects accounted for the problematic issues of the teens. This means that transgender youths with lower resilience were more prone to mental health issues, including depression and trauma symptoms. Emotion-oriented coping was a strong aspect of resilience in determining how depressed the individuals were.[98]

Among pregnant adolescents and depressive symptoms

Pregnancies among adolescents are considered as a complication, as they favour education interruption, poor present and future health, higher rates of poverty, problems for present and future children, among other negative outcomes.[99]

Investigators from the Ecuadorian Catholic University (Universidad Católica de Santiago de Guayaquil) (Guayaquil) and the Spanish University of Zaragoza (Zaragoza), performed a comparative study at the Enrique C. Sotomayor Obstetric and Gynecology Hospital (Guayaquil) assessing resilience differences between pregnant adolescents and adults.[100]

A 56.6% of gravids presented total CESD-10 scores 10 or more indicating depressed mood. Despite this, total CESD-10 scores and depressed mood rate did not differ among studied groups. Adolescents did, however, display lower resilience reflected by lower total resilience scores and a higher rate of scores below the calculated median (P < 0.05). Logistic regression analysis could not establish any risk factor for depressed mood among studied subjects; however, having an adolescent partner and a preterm delivery related to a higher risk for lower resilience.

Causal situations

Divorce

Oftentimes divorce is viewed as detrimental to one’s emotional health, but studies have shown that cultivating resilience may be beneficial to all parties involved. The level of resilience a child will experience after their parents have split is dependent on both internal and external variables. Some of these variables include their psychological and physical state and the level of support they receive from their schools, friends, and family friends.[3] The ability to deal with these situations also stems from the child’s age, gender, and temperament. Children will experience divorce differently and thus their ability to cope with divorce will differ too. About 20–25% of children will “demonstrate severe emotional and behavioral problems” when going through a divorce.[3] This percentage is notably higher than the 10% of children exhibiting similar problems in married families.[101] Despite having divorces parents of approximately 75–80% of these children will “develop into well-adjusted adults with no lasting psychological or behavioral problems”. This comes to show that most children have the tools necessary to allow them to exhibit the resilience needed to overcome their parents’ divorce.

The effects of the divorce extend past the separation of both parents. The remaining conflict between parents, financial problems, and the re-partnering or remarriage of parents can cause lasting stress.[3] Studies conducted by Booth and Amato (2001) have shown that there is no correlation between post-divorce conflict and the child’s ability to adjust to their life circumstance.[101] On the other hand, Hetherington (1999) completed research on this same topic and did find adverse effects in children.[101] In regards to the financial standing of a family, divorce does have the potential to reduce the children’s style of living. Child support is often given to help cover basic needs such as schooling. If the parents’ finances are already scarce then their children may not be able to participate in extracurricular activities such as sports and music lessons, which can be detrimental to their social lives.

Repartnering or remarrying can bring in additional levels of conflict and anger into their home environment. One of the reasons that re-partnering causes additional stress is because of the lack of clarity in roles and relationships; the child may not know how to react and behave with this new “parent” figure in their life. In most cases, bringing in a new partner/spouse will be the most stressful when done shortly after the divorce. In the past, divorce had been viewed as a “single event”, but now research shows that divorce encompasses multiple changes and challenges.[101] It is not only internal factors that allow for resiliency, but the external factors in the environment are critical for responding to the situation and adapting. Certain programs such as the 14-week Children’s Support Group and the Children of Divorce Intervention Program may help a child cope with the changes that occur from a divorce.[102]

Natural disasters

Resilience after a natural disaster can be gauged in a number of different ways. It can be gauged on an individual level, a community level, and on a physical level. The first level, the individual level, can be defined as each independent person in the community. The second level, the community level, can be defined as all those inhabiting the locality affected. Lastly, the physical level can be defined as the infrastructure of the locality affected.[103]

UNESCAP funded research on how communities show resiliency in the wake of natural disasters.[104] They found that, physically, communities were more resilient if they banded together and made resiliency an effort of the whole community.[104] Social support is key in resilient behavior, and especially the ability to pool resources.[104] In pooling social, natural, and economic resources, they found that communities were more resilient and able to over come disasters much faster than communities with an individualistic mindset.[104]

The World Economic Forum met in 2014 to discuss resiliency after natural disasters. They conclude that countries that are more economically sound, and have more individuals with the ability to diversify their livelihoods, will show higher levels of resiliency.[105] This has not been studied in depth yet, but the ideas brought about through this forum appear to be fairly consistent with already existing research.[105]

Research indicates that resilience following natural disasters can be predicted by the level of emotion an individual experienced and were able to process within and following the disaster. Those who employ emotional styles of coping were able to grow from their experiences and then help others. In these instances, experiencing emotions was adaptive. Those who did not engage with their emotions and employed avoidant and suppressive coping styles had poorer mental heath outcomes following disaster. [106]

Death of a family member

Little research has been done on the topic of family resilience in the wake of the death of a family member.[107] Traditionally, clinical attention to bereavement has focused on the individual mourning process rather than on those of the family unit as a whole. Resiliency is distinguished from recovery as the “ability to maintain a stable equilibrium”[108] which is conducive to balance, harmony, and recovery. Families must learn to manage familial distortions caused by the death of the family member, which can be done by reorganizing relationships and changing patterns of functioning to adapt to their new situation.[109] Exhibiting resilience in the wake of trauma can successfully traverse the bereavement process without long-term negative consequences.[110]

One of the healthiest behaviors displayed by resilient families in the wake of a death is honest and open communication. This facilitates an understanding of the crisis. Sharing the experience of the death can promote immediate and long-term adaptation to the recent loss of a loved one. Empathy is a crucial component in resilience because it allows mourners to understand other positions, tolerate conflict, and be ready to grapple with differences that may arise. Another crucial component to resilience is the maintenance of a routine that helps to bind the family together through regular contact and order. The continuation of education and a connection with peers and teachers at school is an important support for children struggling with the death of a family member.[111]

Failure and setbacks in professional settings

Resilience has also been examined in the context of failure and setbacks in workplace settings.[112][113] Representing one of the core constructs of positive organizational behavior (Luthans, 2002), and given increasingly disruptive and demanding work environments, scholars’ and practitioners’ attention to psychological resilience in organizations has greatly increased.[114][115] This research has highlighted certain personality traits, personal resources (e.g., self-efficacy, work-life balance, social competencies), personal attitudes (e.g., sense of purpose, job commitment), positive emotions, and work resources (e.g., social support, positive organizational context) as potential facilitators of workplace resilience.[113]

Beyond studies on general workplace reslience, attention has been directed to the role of resilience in innovative contexts. Due to high degrees of uncertainty and complexity in the innovation process,[116][117] failure and setbacks are naturally happening frequently in this context.[118] As such failure and setbacks can have strong and harmful effects on affected individuals’ motivation and willingness to take risks, their resilience is essential to productively engage in future innovative activities. To account for the peculiarities of the innovation context, a resilience construct specifically aligned to this unique context was needed to address the need to diagnose and develop innovators’ resilience to minimize the human cost of failure and setbacks in innovation. As a context-specific conceptualization of resilience, Innovator Resilience Potential (IRP) serves this purpose and captures the potential for innovative functioning after the experience of failure or setbacks in the innovation process and for handling future setbacks.[119] Based on Bandura’s social cognitive theory,[120] IRP is proposed to consist of six components: self-efficacy, outcome expectancy, optimism, hope, self-esteem, and risk propensity.[119] The concept of IRP thus reflects a process perspective on resilience. On the one hand, in this process, IRP can be seen as an antecedent of how a setback affects an innovator. On the other hand, IRP can be seen as an outcome of the process that, in turn, is influenced by the setback situation.[119] Recently, a measurement scale of IRP was developed and validated.[121]

Cross-cultural resilience

Resilience in individualist and collectivist communities

Individualist cultures, such as those of the U.S., Austria, Spain, and Canada, emphasize personal goals, initiatives, and achievements. Independence, self-reliance, and individual rights are highly valued by members of individualistic cultures. Economic, political, and social policies reflect the culture’s interest in individualism. The ideal person in individualist societies is assertive, strong, and innovative. People in this culture tend to describe themselves in terms of their unique traits- “I am analytical and curious” (Ma et al. 2004). Comparatively, in places like Japan, Sweden, Turkey, and Guatemala, Collectivist cultures emphasize family and group work goals. The rules of these societies promote unity, brotherhood, and selflessness. Families and communities practice cohesion and cooperation. The ideal person in collectivist societies is trustworthy, honest, sensitive, and generous- emphasizing intrapersonal skills. Collectivists tend to describe themselves in terms of their roles- “I am a good husband and a loyal friend” (Ma et al. 2004) In a study on the consequences of disaster on a culture’s individualism, researchers operationalized these cultures by identifying indicative phrases in a society’s literature. Words that showed the theme of individualism include, “able, achieve, differ, own, personal, prefer, and special.” Words that indicated collectivism include, “belong, duty, give, harmony, obey, share, together.”

Natural disasters

Natural disasters threaten to destroy communities, displace families, degrade cultural integrity, and diminish an individual’s level of functioning. In the aftermath of disaster, resiliency is called into action. Comparing individualist community reactions to collectivist community responses after disasters illustrates their differences and respective strengths as tools of resilience. Some suggest that disasters reduce individual agency and sense of autonomy as it strengthens the need to rely on other people and social structures. Therefore, countries/regions with heightened exposure to disaster should cultivate collectivism. However, Withey (1962) and Wachtel (1968) conducted interviews and experiments on disaster survivors which indicated that disaster-induced anxiety and stress decrease one’s focus on social-contextual information – a key component of collectivism. In this way, disasters may lead to increased individualism. Mauch and Pfister (2004) questioned the association between socio-ecological indicators and cultural-level change in individualism. In their research, for each socio-ecological indicator, frequency of disasters was associated with greater (rather than less) individualism. Supplementary analyses indicated that the frequency of disasters was more strongly correlated with individualism-related shifts than was the magnitude of disasters or the frequency of disasters qualified by the number of deaths. Baby-naming practices is one interesting indicator of change. According to Mauch and Pfister (2004) Urbanization was linked to preference for uniqueness in baby-naming practices at a 1-year lag, secularism was linked to individualist shifts in interpersonal structure at both lags, and disaster prevalence was linked to more unique naming practices at both lags. Secularism and disaster prevalence contributed mainly to shifts in naming practices. There is a gap in disaster recovery research that focuses on psychology and social systems but does not adequately address interpersonal networking or relationship formation and maintenance. A disaster response theory holds that individuals who use existing communication networks fare better during and after disasters. Moreover, they can play important roles in disaster recovery by taking initiative to organize and help others recognize and use existing communication networks and coordinate with institutions which correspondingly should strengthen relationships with individuals during normal times so that feelings of trust exist during stressful ones. Future researchers might look at the organic nature of communication’s role in community building, particularly in areas with limited resources. One problem a government agency or NGO might address is what to do when community networks exclude outsiders. In a collectivist sense, building strong, self-reliant communities, whose members know each other, know each other’s needs and are aware of existing communication networks, looks like an optimum defense against disasters. In comparing these cultures, there is really no way to measure resilience, but one can look at the collateral consequences of a disaster to a country to gauge how much it “bounced back.” Collectivist Resilience: (1) returning to routine, (2) rebuilding family structures, (3) communal sharing of resources, (4) emotional expression of grief and loss to a supportive listener, and (5) finding benefits from the disaster experience. Individualist Resilience: (1) redistribution of power/resources, (2) returning to routine, (3) emotional expression through formal support systems, (4) confrontation of the problem, (5) reshaping one’s outlook after the disaster experience. Whereas individualistic societies promote individual responsibility for self-sufficiency, the collectivistic culture defines self-sufficiency within an interdependent communal context (Kayser et al. 2008). Even where individualism is salient, a group thrives when its members choose social over personal goals and seek to maintain harmony and where they value collectivist over individualist behavior (McAuliffe et al. 2003).

Resilience education and developing children

See also: Academic buoyancy

Many years and sources of research indicate that there are a few consistent protective factors of young children despite differences in culture and stressors (poverty, war, divorce of parents, natural disasters, etc.):

  • Capable parenting
  • Other close relationships
  • Intelligence
  • Self-control
  • Motivation to succeed
  • Self-confidence & self-efficacy
  • Faith, hope, belief life has meaning
  • Effective schools
  • Effective communities
  • Effective cultural practices[122]

Ann Masten coins these protective factors as “ordinary magic,” the ordinary human adaptive systems that are shaped by biological and cultural evolution. In her book, Ordinary Magic: Resilience in Development, she discusses the “immigrant paradox“, the phenomenon that first-generation immigrant youth are more resilient than their children. Researchers hypothesize that “there may be culturally based resiliency that is lost with succeeding generations as they become distanced from their culture of origin.” Another hypothesis is that those who choose to immigrate are more likely to be more resilient.[123]

Research by Rosemary Gonzalez and Amado M. Padilla on the academic resilience of Mexican–American high school students reveal that while a sense of belonging to school is the only significant predictor of academic resilience, a sense of belonging to family, a peer group, and a culture can also indicate higher academic resilience. “Although cultural loyalty overall was not a significant predictor of resilience, certain cultural influences nonetheless contribute to resilient outcomes, like familism and cultural pride and awareness.” The results of Gonzalez and Padilla’s study “indicate a negative relationship between cultural pride and the ethnic homogeneity of a school.” They hypothesize that “ethnicity becomes a salient and important characteristic in more ethnically diverse settings”.[124]

Considering the implications of the research by Masten, Gonzalez, and Padilla, a strong connection with one’s cultural identity is an important protective factor against stress and is indicative of increased resilience. While many additional classroom resources have been created to promote resilience in developing students, the most effective ways to ensure resilience in children is by protecting their natural adaptive systems from breaking down or being hijacked. At home, resilience can be promoted through a positive home environment and emphasized cultural practices and values. In school, this can be done by ensuring that each student develops and maintains a sense of belonging to the school through positive relationships with classroom peers and a caring teacher. Research on resilience consistently shows that a sense of belonging—whether it be in a culture, family, or another group—greatly predicts resiliency against any given stressor.

Language of resilience

While not all languages have a direct translation for the English word “resilience”, most have a form of the word that relates to a similar concept of “bouncing back”. As a result, the concept of resilience exists in nearly every culture and community globally. Additionally, as the world globalizes, language learning and communication have proven to be helpful factors in developing resilience in people who travel, study abroad, work internationally, or in those who find themselves as refugees in countries where their home language is not spoken.

The concept of resilience in language

The differences between the literal meanings of translated words shows that there is a common understanding of what resilience is. Even if a word does not directly translate to “resilience” in English, it relays a meaning similar enough to the concept and is used as such within the language.

If a specific word for resilience does not exist in a language, speakers of that language typically assign a similar word that insinuates resilience based on context. Many languages use words that translate to “elasticity” or “bounce”, which are used in context to capture the meaning of resilience. For example, one of the main words for “resilience” in Chinese literally translates to “rebound”, one of the main words for “resilience” in Greek translates to “bounce”, and one of the main words for “resilience” in Russian translates to “elasticity,” just as it does in German. However, this is not the case for all languages. For example, if a Spanish speaker wanted to say “resilience”, their main two options translate to “resistance” and “defense against adversity”.[125] Many languages have words that translate better to “tenacity” or “grit” better than they do to “resilience”. While these languages may not have a word that exactly translates to “resilience”, note that English speakers often use tenacity or grit when referring to resilience. While one of the Greek words for “resilience” translates to “bounce”, another option translates to “cheerfulness”. Moreover, Arabic has a word solely for resilience, but also two other common expressions to relay the concept, which directly translate to “capacity on deflation” or “reactivity of the body”, but are better translated as “impact strength” and “resilience of the body” respectively. On the other hand, a few languages, such as Finnish, have created words to express resilience in a way that cannot be translated back to English. In Finnish, the word “sisu” could most closely be translated to mean “grit” in English, but blends the concepts of resilience, tenacity, determination, perseverance, and courage into one word that has even become a facet of Finnish culture and earned its place as a name for a few Finnish brands.[126]

The Child and Youth Resilience Measure / Adult Resilience Measure

The Child and Youth Resilience Measure and the Adult Resilience Measure are brief validated and reliable measures of resilience for children, youth, or adults. These short surveys consist of 17 base items which can be adapted and expanded using a process of localisation.

The Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale

The Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale[127] aims to quantify and assess resilience. While the test was originally created in English, it has been translated and adapted to several languages. In each translation, translators work hard to retain the meaning of the assessment prompts, even if it requires some modifying of phrasing or words. In one instance in which the scale was translated into Polish, researchers translated it directly back into English, and presented English speakers with both the English and English-translated Polish version. When taking both versions, the scores obtained from both had negligible differences, insinuating that the context and meaning were retained.[128]

Building resilience through language

Research conducted by the British Council[129] ties a strong relationship between language and resilience in refugees. Their language for resilience research conducted in partnership with institutions and communities from the Middle East, Africa, Europe and the Americas claims that providing adequate English-learning programs and support for Syrian refugees builds resilience not only in the individual, but also in the host community. Their findings reported five main ways through which language builds resilience: home language and literacy development; access to education, training, and employment; learning together and social cohesion; addressing the effects of trauma on learning; and building inclusivity.

The language for resilience research suggests that further development of home language and literacy helps create the foundation for a shared identity.[129] By maintaining the home language, even when displaced, a person not only learns better in school, but enhances the ability to learn other languages. This enhances resilience by providing a shared culture and sense of identity that allows refugees to maintain close relationships to others who share their identity and sets them up to possibly return one day. Thus, identity is not stripped and a sense of belonging persists.

Access to education, training, and employment opportunities allow refugees to establish themselves in their host country and provides more ease when attempting to access information, apply to work or school, or obtain professional documentation.[129] Securing access to education or employment is largely dependent on language competency, and both education and employment provide security and success that enhance resilience and confidence.

Learning together encourages resilience through social cohesion and networks. When refugees engage in language-learning activities with host communities, engagement and communication increases.[129] Both refugee and host community are more likely to celebrate diversity, share their stories, build relationships, engage in the community, and provide each other with support. This creates a sense of belonging with the host communities alongside the sense of belonging established with other members of the refugee community through home language.

Additionally, language programs and language learning can help address the effects of trauma by providing a means to discuss and understand.[129] Refugees are more capable of expressing their trauma, including the effects of loss, when they can effectively communicate with their host community. Especially in schools, language learning establishes safe spaces through storytelling, which further reinforces comfort with a new language, and can in turn lead to increased resilience.

The fifth way, building inclusivity, is more focused on providing resources.[129] By providing institutions or schools with more language-based learning and cultural material, the host community can better learn how to best address the needs of the refugee community. This overall addressing of needs feeds back into the increased resilience of refugees by creating a sense of belonging and community.

Additionally, a study completed by Kate Nguyen, Nile Stanley, Laurel Stanley, and Yonghui Wang shows the impacts of storytelling in building resilience.[130] This aligns with many of the five factors identified by the study completed by the British Council, as it emphasizes the importance of sharing traumatic experiences through language. This study in particular showed that those who were exposed to more stories, from family or friends, had a more holistic view of life’s struggles, and were thus more resilient, especially when surrounded by foreign languages or attempting to learn a new language.[129][130]

Criticism

Brad Evans and Julian Reid criticize resilience discourse and its rising popularity in their book, Resilient Life.[131] The authors assert that policies of resilience can put the onus of disaster response on individuals rather than publicly coordinated efforts. Tied to the emergence of neoliberalismclimate change theory, third-world development, and other discourses, Evans and Reid argue that promoting resilience draws attention away from governmental responsibility and towards self-responsibility and healthy psychological affects such as “posttraumatic growth”.

Another criticism regarding resilience is its definition. Like other psychological phenomena, by defining specific psychological and affective states in certain ways, controversy over meaning will always ensue. How the term resilience is defined affects research focuses; different or insufficient definitions of resilience will lead to inconsistent research about the same concepts. Research on resilience has become more heterogeneous in its outcomes and measures, convincing some researchers to abandon the term altogether due to it being attributed to all outcomes of research where results were more positive than expected.[132]

There is also controversy about the indicators of good psychological and social development when resilience is studied across different cultures and contexts.[133][134][135] The American Psychological Association’s Task Force on Resilience and Strength in Black Children and Adolescents,[136] for example, notes that there may be special skills that these young people and families have that help them cope, including the ability to resist racial prejudice.[137] Researchers of indigenous health have shown the impact of culture, history, community values, and geographical settings on resilience in indigenous communities.[138] People who cope may also show “hidden resilience”[139] when they don’t conform with society’s expectations for how someone is supposed to behave (in some contexts, aggression may be required to cope, or less emotional engagement may be protective in situations of abuse).[140] Recently there has also been evidence that resilience can indicate a capacity to resist a sharp decline in other harm even though a person temporarily appears to get worse.[141][142]

See also

Topics of the article

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  • What is the meaning of being resilient?
  • What are the 7 resilience skills?
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© Article translated from the book “Strategic Selling: Psicologia e Comunicazione per la Vendita Consulenziale e le Negoziazioni Complesse” (Strategic Selling: Psychology and Communication for Consulting Sales and Complex Negotiations) 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. 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 Website on Intercultural Negotiation

__________

In the following article I would like to introduce the concept of the “Get-Ready Mindset”, explaining the importance of an adequate preparation both on self-analysis and on the analysis of other people’s way of thinking and behaviours.

It is not easy explaining in a few words what the Get-Ready Mindset is, but I will try to do so by using a metaphor: it is the preparation work that boxers, karateka, or kickboxers do before facing an important match. 

This preparation consists of studying the opponent’s moves, analysing the videos of his/her fights and any possible material concerning him/her, such as what fighting styles he/she may know, his/her masters, his/her preferences, his/her previous defeats , who defeated him/her and how, what are his/her winning strokes, with whom he/she trains, etc.. It includes studying his/her resume, his/her history and the way he/she moves, searching for his/her strengths and weaknesses. 

After having analysed the “other”, it’s time to analyse ourselves:  

  • what are my strengths?  
  • What can I do to improve myself?  
  • Is improving a certain aspect of myself useful or useless?  
  • On what specific development should I focus for that meeting? And how do I convert all this into a training plan? 

We then proceed with building specific combat strategies and techniques. We create a road map, test the progresses made and the state of preparation on the ring with sparring partners. 

This training is related both to fundamental skills (strength, endurance, speed) and to specific techniques. No detail must be overlooked. 

This preparation combines strategy with hard daily gym training, made up of sweat and fatigue, so as to automate the techniques that are going to be used in the match. The best schools do not disregard athletes’ mental training, but they work on focusing and relaxation techniques and on the search for the most profitable mental state, which keeps away the “background mental noises” allowing athletes to be at their best. 

In fact, in every meeting, as I have been able to highlight in the intercultural negotiation field, it is important to know how to keep the background mental noises out of the arena, the retro-thoughts that can weaken us, making us lose tactical clarity of mind and situational awareness (Mental Noise Theory). 

In companies, as well as in sports, one must not rely on destiny or on the hope of being lucky, but on preparation, because that is the only way to strengthen ourselves, to rise to the challenge and to be able to face it. 

And again, a lot of sparring, simulation and training activities must be combined with the indispensable courage that facing challenges that can be lost takes.  

Sales and negotiation in complex environments require specific trainable skills: strategic analysis and communication psychology. In other words, high-level skills. Nothing that can be stereotyped or memorized. 

Just as the fighter prepares himself/herself in the gym, the negotiator can prepare himself/herself through role-playing and simulations. Just as the fighter analyses his/her opponent, mapping his/her strengths and weaknesses, companies can do the same to be ready for strategic meetings. 

We will explore each of these topics in detail. Effective preparation for strategic sales and complex negotiations concerns some very important points: 

  1. The inner will to adopt a consultative approach, with all its consequences: consultancy behaviours, an analytic attitude and a strong psychological and communicational training that can support one’s methods and actions; 
  1. the self-knowledge:  the knowledge of one’s strengths and weaknesses, combined with the full awareness of the value mix that a person, or a company, can create for customers or stakeholders, with whom they must deal; 
  1. the knowledge of others”: their vulnerabilities, their decision-making mechanisms, their balances and imbalances, their dissonances, the problems that can create a state of need or necessity in them, the drives and tensions capable of triggering them to purchase, while bringing us to the positive closing of a negotiation; 
  1. the spaces, options and ways of relating that lead to success, the traps that can cause our failure, the pitfalls, the lines of action and the sense of the “journey”, that must be undertaken to reach the goal by building the right path, step by step. 

 

"Strategic Selling" by Daniele Trevisani

© Article translated from the book “Strategic Selling: Psicologia e Comunicazione per la Vendita Consulenziale e le Negoziazioni Complesse” (Strategic Selling: Psychology and Communication for Consulting Sales and Complex Negotiations) 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. 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 Website on Intercultural Negotiation

__________

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

__________

Today’s article will focus on intercultural leadership. Starting from the definition of the term, we will then proceed with listing and describing the problems that may arise in an intercultural team and the skills that every leader must possess if he/she wants to work in a cross-cultural environment.

First of all, I would like to use the definition from the website 3blmedia.com to explain the differences between cross-cultural leadership, multicultural leadership and intercultural leadership:

“Cross-cultural, multicultural, intercultural…these terms are often used interchangeably yet have finely nuanced distinctions. For a leader, the cross-cultural context means literally crossing cultures to do business, provide service, or vacation in another culture. Multicultural refers to multiple cultures existing in a geographic place or organization, each separate and distinct. Intercultural refers to the act of understanding the values and beliefs of a culture and being able to communicate and collaborate with people across multiple cultures. Interculturalism has as its goal innovation, inclusion, and friendship. Intercultural ism implies interaction.”  (1)

 let’s now continue with Wikipedia’s explanation of intercultural leadership:

Intercultural leadership has been developed to understand leaders who work in the newly globalized market. Today’s international organizations require leaders who can adjust to different environments quickly and work with partners and employees of other cultures”. (2)

In other words, an intercultural leader must be able to:

  1. manage people from different cultures with cultural respect and an understanding attitude;
  2. achieve a common goal with his/her multicultural team.

Obviously, the problems that may arise in these cross-cultural contexts are numerous, for example:

  • intercultural differences in verbal and non-verbal communication;
  • communicative difficulties in the decision-making process, due to different cultural preferences for length of turns, pauses between turns, simultaneous talk, or discrete turns;
  • poor group cohesion;
  • etc.

Possible intercultural leadership challenges can be related to:

  • different cultural view of leaders’ behaviours: cultures accept different leadership behaviours and have different opinions about what can be considered appropriate and inappropriate.
  • Power paradox arousal: one part of the team questions the legitimacy and authority of the leader based on his leadership style.
  • Different culturally-based leadership expectations: members of multicultural team hold different culturally-based leadership expectations and prefer different leadership styles.
  • Team members’ culturally different reactions to leadership: team members from different cultures react differently towards the leader, based on the leader’s leadership style and on how a leader approaches them as team members. (3)

To overcome all this, intercultural communication skills are needed.

In fact, Intercultural management is more than just communicating, working and leading people across cultures. It is about interacting in a conscious and mindful way and it involves:

  • the readiness to recognize our own cultural conditionings and to discover how we came to believe and see things the way we do. This helps us to realize and accept that our own way to see and judge things is just one among many;
  • learning about the other person’s culture, including history, economy, political situation and all those aspects that help us understand the underlying reasons for someone’s behaviour, beyond our personal assumptions and values. This can provide a totally new perspective on a person or situation;
  • the ability to reflect on how our behaviour may be perceived, interpreted and judged by someone from a different culture, as well as the maturity to recognize how we may be unintentionally contributing to a problem (and how we can contribute to solving it);
  • the ability to adapt our behaviour in order to find a common ground with the people we work with, valuing cultural differences and co-creating new and better ways to do things. (4)

To conclude, in order to become global leaders, we cannot just learn how to manage a team or how to be charismatic, because that’s not sufficient. We are all living in a new globalized world, where everyone is forced to interact with many culturally different people, people with different opinions, values and beliefs, people that possess a different world view. All these people must work together to achieve greater results and only an intercultural leader, not a common manager, can help them do that.

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

__________

(1) https://www.3blmedia.com/News/Challenges-Intercultural-Leadership

(2) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cross-cultural_leadership

(3) https://edepot.wur.nl/496325

(4) https://www.cuoaspace.it/2018/02/why-developing-intercultural-management-skills-is-essential-in-todays-complex-world.html

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© Article translated from the book “Strategic Selling: Psicologia e Comunicazione per la Vendita Consulenziale e le Negoziazioni Complesse” (Strategic Selling: Psychology and Communication for Consulting Sales and Complex Negotiations) 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. 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 Website on Intercultural Negotiation

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In the following article we are going to introduce the importance of negotiation preparation, focusing on professional training.

In the business field there is a lot of confusion about what training is. Some people think that it is possible to prepare negotiators and salespeople through a couple of hours of theoretical lessons based on abstract theories and concepts, relying on university professors who have never sold anything in their life. 

Others rely on people who make them walk on fire, telling them that this will lead them to dominate the universe, with the practical effect of burning their feet, or drag them into sales meetings where they will have to sing and dance like poor delusional morons. 

Others rely on renowned consulting firms to carry out their assignments, hoping to solve the problem (since they have got trained negotiators and salesmen) by turning to alleged Gurus who show sparkling slides, effective phrases, authors with exotic and famous names. Useful, but insufficient. 

Others focus on the “do-it-yourself” method, making young people flank with senior sellers, without filters, with the practical effect of propagating and disseminating all their mistakes for generations and generations. 

A strong “awareness” is more needed, than a classic training, something that goes beyond stereotyped rules, for example:

  • learning to observe how we react to other people’s communications and how our internal dialogue works; 
  • understanding how to examine a conversation and grasp its strategic moves;
  • preparing to be an analyst. 

Serious training is a very strong form of learning. It starts with a self-analysis that no PowerPoint can replace, and allows us to come to terms with who we really are. 

Unlike those seminars held by “training shops”, a good deep coaching (personal coaching or team coaching) can help the person and the team to pay attention to what previously eluded them, and this has nothing to do with a classic training. 

We need to help people to act like professionals, to “think” like professionals. The search for Human Potential, hidden in every person, is neither easy nor immediate, and we all know it very well. But, sometimes, we look for shortcuts that do not exist. 

There are many situations in which communication changes things. 

We can have a job interview, that can represent a turning point in life, where we have to show who we are and prove what we are worth. 

The effects of every word and every gesture will be decisive. 

Effective communication can also solve the problem of finding a financier for a project, or make a dream come true. 

Many situations, one common denominator: the result of communication and negotiation activities changes life. Facing this intriguing world requires the examination of many variables. But let’s first look for a common trait and reflect on the few certainties we have. 

A first basic awareness is the need for great seriousness in those who work in the world of communication and complex negotiation: being aware of the fact that professional changes – changing-life effects – depend on the results of strategic negotiations. 

If negotiations are well managed, they can lay the foundations for a better future. On the contrary, if they are badly managed, they can cause enormous damage. 

A second certainty is related to the fact that a specific training is needed to communicate well. As a matter of fact, negotiations require a mental preparation: we must use all our mental resources, managing negotiations as professional and strategic activities (mental approach of the Get-Ready Mind Set), without neglecting any detail. 

A third certainty is linked to the need of taking care of the seller’s (negotiator or communicator) “machine”, even before worrying about its external performance. A person who’s feeling well, full of physical and mental energies, will have an excellent chance of expressing his/her communicative potential as well. Conversely, a physically debilitated or exhausted person, who’s also psychologically tired or feels out of place, will only make continual mistakes. 

As an important Italian psychologist and advisor, coach of the Italian national freediving team and freediving world champion, points out: “when you “immerse yourself” in relationships and negotiations you come into contact with yourself and your own subconscious, as a free diver does. 

Reasonable or unreasonable fears, conscious or subconscious anxieties or inconsistencies may emerge. 

If they block us, slow us down, we will suffer many negative effects. 

On the contrary, a person who keeps working deeply on himself/herself can “dive” safely both in water and in the most difficult negotiation, keeping his/her composure, despite the difficult environment, without losing his/her emotional awareness. 

"Strategic Selling" by Daniele Trevisani

© Article translated from the book “Strategic Selling: Psicologia e Comunicazione per la Vendita Consulenziale e le Negoziazioni Complesse” (Strategic Selling: Psychology and Communication for Consulting Sales and Complex Negotiations) 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. 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 Website on Intercultural Negotiation

__________

For further information see:

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© Article translated from the book “Strategic Selling: Psicologia e Comunicazione per la Vendita Consulenziale e le Negoziazioni Complesse” (Strategic Selling: Psychology and Communication for Consulting Sales and Complex Negotiations) 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. 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 Website on Intercultural Negotiation

__________

Communication and negotiation are very delicate areas of human existence. Successes and failures, victories and falls, as well as the possibility of making dreams and ideals come true, depend on communication skills and that’s why the following articles will revolve around the tools for building our future: communication, strategic selling and complex negotiations.

Our desires, our human and professional aspirations – the ideas we would like to realize – our own life projects, etc. are all linked to this often-unexpressed ability to communicate, a latent skill, a flower to be made bloom. A skill that we rarely cultivate and study. 

It represents one of the most precious power of human nature: being able to express and share feelings, ideas, thoughts, visions, dreams, projects. 

Here below I would like to make a few examples related to the vital importance of communication skills: 

  • a diplomat or an officer have the lives of thousands of people on their shoulders when negotiating peace; peace and war have always been linked to misunderstandings, lack of communication, negotiation successes or failures; 
  • when an executive negotiates a decisive sale, he/she builds the company’s future; in fact, it also influences the future of the families of those who work in the company. His every move, his every action will have a consequence. 

The vital importance of these skills is not a metaphor, it is something tangible, real. We bumped into it in every job interview, where we were more or less good at presenting our strengths, more or less good at understanding who or what others were looking for, and why. 

The negotiation work is certainly not limited to the business level. 

The importance of communication skills can also alter (for better or for worse) the course of one’s love life; it can bring us closer to the people we love, or create distance, it can generate understanding or misunderstanding, passion or sadness, joy or pain. 

On one hand, good communication can give life to friendships and relationships that last a lifetime, but, on the other hand, bad communication determines the malfunction or irreparable breakdown of human and professional relationships. 

For every human being, the ability to communicate emotions, to open up to others, without letting these emotions being suffocated in an inner mental rumination, is a main factor of physical and mental health. 

Communication skills can even determine life and death, such as in military negotiations or for hostages’ release operations. 

In the business field, the abilities to analyse, present and listen are the core of every sales and partnership project and the heart of every complex negotiation. 

In this context, details also matter, for example: 

  • understanding who the real decision makers are, can change the life of a company; it may or may not let you win a competition, a tender, or the heart of a key customer; 
  • a typing error in an offer’s crucial point can produce a sense of carelessness and raise evaluation barriers, making the sale more difficult; but again… 
  • being distracted in the listening phase can make us lose important “signals” expressed by the interlocutor; 
  • catching or not catching a glance or a facial expression of approval or disapproval is also crucial. 

Concerning negotiations and human relationships, It is an exceptional achievement to understand each other, break the barriers of incommunicability, find ways to achieve cooperative success, and grow together. 

In fact, communicators, professional negotiators, salespeople, represent an active part of society and “put many things into motion”. Without them, companies cannot live. 

A company, where there is no one capable of selling, is a company on the edge of the abyss. All salaries come from a single source: sales. 

We must therefore prepare ourselves: the key is to develop our communication skills and support others’ growth. 

Communication skills must become a real asset (strategic resource) and not a weakness to be covered by discounts, rebates, humiliations, concessions and losses. 

This is why we must act with a fighting and strategic spirit, with a ready and resolute mind – an analyst’s mind – and “legs” ready to meet people everywhere. 

An ancient phrase, expressed by a Japanese Samurai, offers us a beautiful representation, which explains this attitude in a few words: 

Kenshin said: “Fate is in heaven, the armour is on the chest, the result is in the feet” (from the work “Cleary, Thomas. The Mind of the Samurai” by Adachi Masahiro, written from 1780 to 1800) 

The words of Samurai Masahiro help us understand that there are many areas of life that we cannot dominate, and others that are in our hands and that we must manage both personally and as a team. 

Kenshin’s “paradise” refers to global scenarios, for example the choices of the competitors, our armour is our preparation, our feet are the actions we choose to adopt. 

To conclude, we must absorb the fighting spirit proposed by Masahiro and adapt it to our purposes and our profession. 

There is no doubt that operating in sales today means having courage.

The courage of someone who goes out with a suitcase to win over a customer. 

The courage of those who face the world, of those who enter different cultures, new and unknown companies, of those who fight against stronger, more funded or powerful competitors, the courage of those who move on the front line. 

And even greater courage is needed to direct people, standing beside those men and women who work in the front line, especially in times of difficulty and greater need. 

This is leadership. This is a way of life. 

Negotiation is certainly a difficult game, but not a gamble. Serious negotiation never aims to produce free damage to the counterpart, but it is based on building “helping relationships”, that create value for all, and “winning relationships“, that benefit both parties. 

This also applies to marriage, where two people succeed in setting their own spaces of freedom for personal interests (sports, culture, gardening, travel, etc.), without letting marriage become a cage, but rather a springboard that can give power to both. 

This also applies to companies, when, thanks to a good negotiation, a project emerges, that no one, alone, would have been able to create. 

No result, however, is achieved by magic. We need negotiation activities and painstaking work to clarify roles, and roles boundaries. Relationships must be cultivated if we want to reap the fruit of our labour. 

In our everyday life we can negotiate consciously or unconsciously: for example, deciding which film to watch with friends can be considered a negotiation. In projects between companies, negotiation takes on an amplified, enormous importance, and can last for months. Months during which we must never loose our focus on the result. 

These needs require adequate training. 

Communication starts from a main need: the need to enter a relationship, to get in contact with someone or something, and – for those who work with negotiation on a professional level – preparing as professionals is the least that can be done. 

We have been negotiating since we were born, and we will do so for our entire life. 

"Strategic Selling" by Daniele Trevisani

© Article translated from the book “Strategic Selling: Psicologia e Comunicazione per la Vendita Consulenziale e le Negoziazioni Complesse” (Strategic Selling: Psychology and Communication for Consulting Sales and Complex Negotiations) 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. 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 Website on Intercultural Negotiation

__________

For further information see:

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  • World’s most famous expert in intercultural negotiation

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

__________

Today’s article will be about culture shock and its consequences. Since I experienced it too, I will start with a general description of this phenomena, presenting my personal experience at the end.  

What is culture shock?

Let’s use Wikipedia’s concise definition to explain the term:

“Culture shock is an experience a person may have when one moves to a cultural environment which is different from one’s own; it is also the personal disorientation a person may feel when experiencing an unfamiliar way of life due to immigration or a visit to a new country, a move between social environments, or simply transition to another type of life. One of the most common causes of culture shock involves individuals in a foreign environment. Common problems include: information overload, language barrier, generation gap, technology gap, skill interdependence, formulation dependency, homesickness (cultural), boredom (job dependency), response ability (cultural skill set).” (1)

In other words, when you move to a culturally different place, you may be overwhelmed by a multitude of feelings, such as anxiety, loneliness, confusion, etc., because this new place feels far away from what you normally experience in your daily life. Everything is strange and unfamiliar and dealing with this feeling of unfamiliarity brings you anguish and inner stress.

In some cases, this psychological disorder can turn into a physical problem: it is not uncommon that after some time you start to suffer from stomach pain, insomnia or, in my case, kidney pain, etc.

The process of culture shock is divided in 4 stages:

  • Honeymoon: in this first stage everything seems new and beautiful and you feel euphoric for very little detail in your new life, but unfortunately this initial happiness is bound to end.
  • Negotiation: this is the worst part, in which nothing seems right anymore. You are angry, because you begin to realize that things are not going as you thought, you are sad because you feel lonely and you miss your family and friends, you feel anxious and uncomfortable, because you start comparing your new life with the old one and you realize that your old life had good points too. Fortunately, this stage will also come to an end.
  • Adjustment: after 6 or more months you will finally adjust to the new routine, the difficulties no longer seem so difficult to overcome, as in the previous phase, and everything is going back to normal.
  • Adaptation: you have now adapted to your new life and are experiencing a sense of belonging, feeling at home in what was a new environment at first.

When you finally reach the 4th stage, a re-entry culture shock may arise when you go back to your old place, forcing you to reexperience the process of culture shock all over again.

Now, explaining what a culture shock is and experiencing it are two completely different things and I know what I’m talking about, because it happened to me too.

When I first arrived in Japan, I couldn’t believe how happy I was to be there. I was fascinated by every little thing, from road signs and buildings shapes, to restaurants and shops. I remember my first calls to family and friends, full of excitement and hope for a bright future in Japan. If I’m not mistaken, I also remember telling them that I wanted to live there forever, or something like that.

All that lasted only 2 months and my negotiation phase started when I came back to Japan after spending my Christmas holidays at home in Italy.

I was devastated: I continuously thought about Italy and all its positive aspects. I missed everyone back at home and I couldn’t believe I was so exited at first, because I couldn’t think about any pros of being in Japan anymore: people looked unfriendly, road signs were too strange, fruits and vegetables costed too much, the room I rented was too small, etc.

In brief, I felt like I was living in the wrong place, a place in which I could never belong even if I tried and that feeling of uneasiness didn’t help me sleep (yes, I also suffered from insomnia).

After a while, when my boyfriend came to Japan for a month, I started being happy again and I was trying to adjust to my new life, when my study and work experience came to an end and I had to return to Italy.

Since I didn’t have the time to adjust completely I didn’t have to suffer from a re-entry shock, but I couldn’t go through all the stages, so, right now, I feel like retrying that same experience to prove myself that I can finally find a new home.

I don’t know if I will do it, but be sure that, as soon as this pandemic end, I’ll be back to Japan.

To conclude, if you really want to move to a culturally different country, be aware that all the inner and outer things you will experience are normal and that if you are very determined to build a new like a completely new environment, you can do it, because you will always adjust to it in the end.

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

__________

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

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© 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. 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 Website on Intercultural Negotiation

__________

Let’s continue talking about emotion management, this time by focusing on emotional dragging and on those techniques used to reduce emotional stress in negotiations.

The Risk of Emotional Dragging during Negotiations

By emotional dragging we mean a situation in which an emotion, apparently well managed and removed, reappears in other forms in subsequent moments and negatively affects the outcome of a negotiation.

This can happen (1) within the same negotiation session, affecting subjects other than those who have generated a negative emotional impact, but also (2) between different sessions, carrying those negative states from one meeting to another.

Intra-Session Dragging

The intra-session dragging occurs more frequently than it is thought on a conscious level. A classic case is that of withheld anger towards one of the interlocutors, which is then projected towards another interlocutor present, in a modified, attenuated or strengthened form. Let’s look at the following case, an uncensored original transcript about the emotional experience of a negotiation meeting:

We had been at the table for about twenty minutes and we had just gotten to the heart of the matter. After various pleasantries (chat about the weather, about the coffee from the machine, etc.) we began to discuss the merits and here he comes, he sat down, he remained silent for a little bit, but then he started talking about atomic bullshits. I asked if I could have the pleasure of knowing his role in the project, and he said that he had a role in all projects, and he always wanted to see who entered and left his company. Concerning the project, he said that he had nothing to do with it, but he was supervising it a little. Basically, he came to say that he “kept his boys at bay”, so that they did not mess things up badly. I’ll put it another way: he had come to mark his territory like a dog pissing on trees to say that that tree belonged to him. Practically, he entered the meeting and pissed on those present, on his collaborators and on outsiders, me included, to make clear that this was his territory. I had just entered, I didn’t know anyone, I was an outsider, and at first, I was disappointed. Then I thought that I had already seen a lot of assholes like these around the companies, and I shouldn’t get too caught up, I had to go straight on my way, which was to bring home the signed contract and nothing more. if I had met him on the street, I would have hit him with the car, but not there, otherwise I would have ruined everything.

I kept letting him piss on my head for a while, but then, at some point, I contradicted him not in a strong way, but vaguely, just to make him understand that I was an expert and that he could not say whatever he wanted about certain topics without knowing a shit. However, it is a fact that he entered and left the meeting, doing what he wanted, answering his cell phone, calling people during the meeting and working there, in short, he wanted to look cool, perhaps to show that, there, he could do everything. After a while he went out and did not come back. At that moment I thought “he is dead, he is gone, finally, he will never come back”. At the end of the meeting, he was not there yet. We tried to sum up what was said during the day and I said something like this: “yes, we can certainly carry out a good project, the important thing is to keep the cheap company policy out of it. I am a kind of person that is not afraid of saying if there is a problem and does not pretend that nothing has happened just because it is uncomfortable to let it out”. Let’s take one thing into account: I was in the worst place on planet to say something like that. I should have pulled it out after being their supplier, after finding some ally, not there, at the first meeting. And now I realize that, as I was telling them that, I was squinting, looking like Clint Eastwood ready to shoot someone. Now I’m aware that I still had a lot of anger inside me, letting that asshole piss on me had bothered me, and I was throwing this anger back on others, on his collaborators. Then I can tell you that, even during the evening, at home, I was irritated, I had a hard time falling asleep, I couldn’t bear the idea that an ignorant recommended asshole had pissed on my head like that.

Dragging between Sessions

The dragging between sessions is caused by negative experiences related to previous relationships with the same subject or with the same category of subjects. We may have had unpleasant experiences with some people of a specific category and associate these experiences to the entire category, entering the negotiation with a wrong disposition.

Already formed stereotypes must be used with caution. Above all, it is essential to learn how to clean one’s own mind from negative attitudes resulting from previous sessions, so as to enter the negotiation with a free and open mind.

Dragging between Emotional States of Personal Life and Professional Situations

Personal life inevitably generates emotional experiences.

Relationships with friends, family, relatives, as well as events experienced outside the work environment invariably have an impact on the person. Some individuals are good at masking what happens in their personal life (especially negative experiences), but disguising may not be the best strategy.

The most advanced techniques on a professional level provide – for those in need of a pressing negotiation and for those who negotiate at a high level – for the use of professional counselling and coaching tools, that can support the subject in elaborating the facts of personal and professional life, harmoniously integrating personal experience and managerial life.

We cannot pretend that a manager, who has just experienced a family or professional trauma, can go to work as nothing has happened and be equally productive. Illnesses, marriage problems, difficulties with children, etc., reduce concentration and the available mental energy.

At the same time, on the opposite level, it is possible to learn to feed on the positive emotions that private life can offer and absorb these energies to nourish the professional level.

It can be said that one of the most underestimated issues of today concerning management is the energetic and motivational condition of the subject; managers, as well as collaborators must be seen as “holistic beings” who live both a psychological and physical life.

Intercultural negotiation can create emotional turbulence and high emotional distress. Negotiation itself (intracultural negotiation too) is a phenomenon that has a deep impact on the person’s energy systems. The addition of the strong intercultural variable increases the cognitive cost of attention and processing, the likelihood of misunderstanding, break and repair.

It is therefore on the energy level that managers must be helped to find and maintain a high, positive condition, capable of providing them with the necessary support for intercultural negotiation challenges.

Techniques to Manage and Reduce Emotional Stress in Negotiation

Several strategies are used in the ALM method to manage emotional stress in negotiations.

Autogenic and meditative training techniques (passive techniques) and other relaxation techniques (physical dissipation, sports, active techniques) are extremely useful for generating a good emotional predisposition in the negotiator, especially if practiced the same day, before the negotiation session.

In the immediate future, the separation between personal emotional experiences and professional time can be helped by specific relaxation techniques, while at advanced levels and in the long term, turning to professional coaching and managerial counselling can be more productive, because they help managers learn to focus both on lifestyle elements (lifestyle training) and on emotional management techniques.

Usable techniques are:

  • conceptual preparation and desk-work strategies: cultural analysis, latent cultural objections analysis, objections management preparation;
  • experiential preparation strategies: situational role playing used to refine and activate motor and conversational patterns, to create readiness in conversational moves and to create self-confidence;
  • emotional preparation and emotional reorganization strategies: relaxation techniques, autogenic training, focusing and meditation;
  • physical techniques of bio-energetic recharge: doing physical work to remove stress through specific physical exercise;
  • disidentification techniques, such as those proposed by Assoagioli in Psychosynthesis, which can help individuals to distance themselves emotionally from their current experience, as if it were something happening to others, that cannot affect them;
  • cognitive restructuring techniques: for example, moving from the concept of “negotiation as a confrontation” to “negotiation as a helping relationship” (helping the other party to understand something or to achieve a goal);
  • post-negotiation debriefing techniques, that help individuals dissolve negotiation stress, rework it and use it to grow rather than letting it block them, forcing them being conceptually and emotionally committed or making them feel inadequate to face new goals and challenges.
"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. 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 Website on Intercultural Negotiation

__________

For further information see:

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  • emotional dragging
  • Intra-Session Dragging
  • withheld anger
  • Dragging between Sessions
  • Dragging between Emotional States of Personal Life and Professional Situations
  • Techniques to Manage and Reduce Emotional Stress in Negotiation
  • passive techniques
  • active techniques
  • conceptual preparation and desk-work strategies
  • experiential preparation strategies
  • situational role playing
  • emotional preparation and emotional reorganization strategies
  • physical techniques of bio-energetic recharge
  • disidentification techniques
  • cognitive restructuring techniques
  • post-negotiation debriefing techniques

© 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. 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 Website on Intercultural Negotiation

__________

In the following 2 articles we are going to talk about emotion management in intercultural negotiation, because beign able to not lose control over one’s own emotions means beign able to negotiate smoothly.

The Mental Noise Theory

The Mental Noise Theory highlights that people who are irritated or who experience negative emotions have greater difficulties in listening and processing information.

 “Mental noise” can reduce by 80% the ability to understand and process communication.

Among the reasons that lead to a reduction, up to 20%, in communication efficiency, there are:

  • traumas caused by previous experiences;
  • competing agendas (priorities);
  • emotional excess (activation excess);
  • poor sense of self-efficacy and assertiveness.
The Awareness of One’s Own Emotional Predispositions

According to Schein, to negotiate or work positively, it is necessary to identify one’s emotional predisposition.

Schein highlights this dynamic within the consultancy process (consultant-client relationship) but it can also be extended to all dynamics of power management within groups, as in the case of negotiations:

If, due to my nature, I’m predisposed to respond to certain types of facts with certain types of emotional reaction, I must be aware of this predisposition to judge the degree of its suitability in specific situations. For example, if I tend to get defensive and angry every time a customer stands up to me or tells me I’m wrong, I have to recognize the existence of this tendency and learn to control myself or manage my emotions in the best possible way, especially if, in my judgment, a dispute with the client would not be productive for the purposes of the consulting process. However, it is not always wrong to be defensive or angry. Sometimes it is indeed the most adequate reaction, but in order to choose and decide the best way to deal with the situation it is necessary to know one’s predispositions…

As it is evident, the direction given by Schein is not that of absolute emotional repression, but of conscious management.

Communication Ecology and Emotional Leadership

The ecology of communication represents a complex sensory stimulus (meant as a set of visual, verbal, tactile, olfactory, gustatory, kinesthetic inputs). Each element that reaches the perceptive system of the subject can generate emotions (strong or weak, central or peripheral).

All sensory stimuli activated during the participation in a negotiation, can therefore activate emotions.

We constantly live inside specific emotional areas or emotional experiences, jumping from an emotion to another, sometimes quickly, other times slowly.

Negotiation meetings and negotiation activities are moments of strong emotional activation, because certain factors are involved, such as our personal interests, the interests of the role we represent, the company’s interests, but also our own “face” and image, towards ourselves (self-esteem) and towards others.

The negotiation outcome – positive or negative – can affect one’s personal history, self-confidence, sense of self-efficacy.

These emotional factors are generally amplified in intercultural negotiation, in which further dimensions can come into play, such as:

  • Communication Apprehension (or communication anxiety) amplified by intercultural encounters;
  • ethnocentrism, the consideration that one’s own culture is superior and the difficulty of accepting opinions from different cultures;
  • the IWTC (intercultural willingness to communicate), meant as a general attitude or predisposition (positive or negative) towards the idea of meeting people from different cultures.

Due to various phenomena, it becomes difficult to put into practice a conscious, rational management of emotions, that can help them emerge from our subconscious and unconscious, in order to be able to “deal with them”, reacting appropriately.

The Relationship between Emotions, Intercultural Communication and Teamwork Performance

How important are emotions in affecting performance? In the ALM method, it is strongly highlighted that the emotional experience of a group is one of the most important factors for obtaining lasting and effective performances.

Even a temporary group, made up of people who negotiate for a limited time, becomes a team for that period of time, a grouping of people who try to achieve results, each for themselves (in the most backward models) or with high mutual satisfaction, in more advanced win-win models.

The importance of emotional experiences in intercultural groups is also highlighted in the most extreme settings, such as in spatial multicultural crews. Space mission planning and management changes dramatically when teams are made up of people from different countries and cultures.

Although united by a passion and by a profession, the different experiences and acculturation backgrounds can lead team-members to collide in confined environments, as soon as these differences begin to come out.

Several studies examine the problem, to better understand the influence and management of cultural differences between crew members and technical-scientific teams who will work and live in space in the future. These studies therefore refer to the research on intercultural effectiveness on Earth; they also deal with how to improve selection/evaluation procedures, intercultural training, monitoring and support, and astronauts’ experiences debriefing.

If we look at the intercultural dynamics in progress, being locked up in a room to “make a negotiation work” is not very different from being locked up in a spaceship with the task of making it work.

During manoeuvres (physical or conversational), a multiplicity of emotional experiences may emerge (anger, disappointment, or even simple annoyance) which, after stratifying, can lead to a relationship breakdown and to operations malfunctions.

It’s not just about big choices, but sometimes it’s about behavioural micro-details, simple gestures. Small secondary elements that do not create disturbances within a culture, but can be unpleasant when judged by a different culture.

Recognizing emotions is therefore essential for the negotiation performance.

"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. 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 Website on Intercultural Negotiation

__________

For further information see:

TAGS:

  • ALM business method
  • active training
  • awareness of one’s role in negotiation
  • Best coach in intercultural communication in the world
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  • Best coach in intercultural negotiation in the world
  • Best Intercultural communication book
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  • dialogue between companies
  • different cultural approach
  • different cultural context
  • direct line of communication
  • disagreements
  • Effective intercultural negotiation techniques
  • face-to-face communication
  • front-line communication
  • high-context cultures
  • How cultural differences affect negotiations?
  • How does culture influence negotiation?
  • intercultural communication
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  • Intercultural Negotiation Timing
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  • intercultural training
  • Intercultural Training Consultants
  • know-how
  • low-context cultures
  • misunderstandings
  • negotiating rules
  • negotiation preparation
  • negotiator’s emotional awareness
  • negotiator’s growth
  • open communication
  • transparent communication
  • What are the 5 stages of negotiation?
  • What is effective intercultural negotiation?
  • What is intercultural negotiation?
  • working on attitudes
  • working on skills
  • World’s most famous expert in intercultural communication
  • World’s most famous expert in intercultural negotiation
  • Emotion Management in Intercultural Negotiation
  • Mental Noise Theory
  • traumas caused by previous experiences
  • priorities
  • emotional excess
  • poor sense of self-efficacy
  • poor sense of assertiveness
  • Emotional predispositions awareness
  • emotional repression
  • power management
  • communication ecology
  • emotional leadership
  • emotional activation
  • Communication Apprehension
  • ethnocentrism
  • intercultural willingness to communicate
  • The Relationship between Emotions, Intercultural Communication and Teamwork Performance
  • win-win models
  • relationship breakdown
  • behavioural micro-details
  • emotions recognition

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

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I wasn’t really sure about the topic of today’s article, because there are actually too many things to say about being a foreigner in Japan, but I decided to list some pros and cons that had a special impact in my daily life there.  

The first thing I must underline is the fact that I’m Italian, so please note that my point of view may be different from yours if you do not come from the same culture as mine. Furthermore, everything is based on my personal experience as a working student, so be aware that my list of advantages and disadvantages can be considered incomplete by those how had a different experience.  

Being Accepted   

First of all, I would like to start with a negative issue: being accepted in Japan can be very difficult.  

This doesn’t mean that people make you feel unwelcomed, maybe some people do, but there are very few of them. What I mean is that they will always see you as a foreigner, even though you speak their language perfectly or you own a house and car and have lived there for more than 20 years.  

The worst thing is that there is nothing you can do to be fully accepted, because it is impossible to have the requirements: being born and raised in Japan by Japanese parents, or, in other words, being a pure blood Japanese.  

The good thing about all of this is that, since you will never be considered a real Japanese, you won’t have to put up with social pressure, trying to live up to the expectations of Japanese society, which are very high.  

Feeling Safe  

As it is well known, Italy is one of those countries with a high level of petty crime. When I have to go the station or when I have to go out alone during night hours, I’m always scared of bumping into some pickpocket, that wants to steal my bag. When I was in Japan, I always felt safe when walking down the street, even when I had to head home from work at midnight.  

Another example to explain this incredible fact is the following: when I went for the first time in a food court inside a shopping centre, I noticed that people left their bags on the tables to occupy them without anyone to check on them.  

That really surprised me, because I couldn’t believe they weren’t afraid of someone stealing them, but that’s how Japan is and it’s great.  

Human Relationships

Here comes my Italian side. People in Italy are usually very direct: we are used to openly express our emotions and ideas, without fear, while Japan is totally the opposite: people do not speak their mind and interpreting their thoughts is a hard task.    

Creating long-lasting relationships was the most difficult part of my experience. The truth is I made many friends, but no one was Japanese. I had Chinese friends, Korean friends, Italian and American friends, but I couldn’t make a single true Japanese friend.  

But as I explained before, maybe that is something related only to my personal experience and nothing more. 

Cleanliness and Punctuality  

This is probably something you have heard more than one time about Japan. The Japanese have enormous respect for society and social harmony. For this reason, it is unacceptable to leave a place dirty or to fail one’s word, failing their duties by arriving late.  

This is why everything is always clean and punctual.  

It may happen that, for example, a train arrives late, but usually it is due to some major problem, like accidents or poor weather conditions.  

During my stay in Japan there was only a time when my train was late and that was when a big snowfall created some damages on the trainline. I remember that I took the train at 11 p.m. after finishing my work and I arrived at home at 2:30 a.m… I was devastated, but fortunately I didn’t have to repeat that experience for a second time!  

The Japanese Language  

This is the last, but not least part. As I said before I was a working student in Japan, so I was there to work and learn the language. I must say that at first, I couldn’t speak Japanese quite well and for that reason, many things appeared more difficult than it actually were.  

If I have to use one of my experiences again, I would choose the first time I went to an hospital, 2 days after my arrival in Japan.  

I wasn’t very lucky, that’s true, because I contracted a kidney infection during the flight, that caused me many problems.  

I clearly remember it was Sunday and hospitals were closed, so I had to call an ambulance to have an immediate complete check-up. The people on the ambulance didn’t speak English, so I couldn’t well explain how I was feeling and, at the same time, they couldn’t understand what my emergency was.  

Fortunately, my Italian flatmate, who later became my friend, helped me, coming with me to the hospital to mediate. This way, I could overcome the language gap and cure the infection.  

After improving my language skills there were no more problems like that, so, for those who decide to go to Japan, please remember that you may be lucky and find someone who speaks English, but usually if you do not know the language, you may encounter many more obstacles, than necessary.  

To conclude, being a foreigner in Japan is not easy, but if you begin your experience with an open mind, ready to find a different world made of different values and a different language, you will be able to overcome all obstacles and maybe find a new place to call home. 

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

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© 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 

__________

Let’s conclude the topics of status and status anxiety, at first explaining how the negotiator can gain power and bargaining strenght during a negotiation and secondly, how status anxiety can arise in contracts negotiations.

Knowing how to deal with new people and companies, that often have large dimensions and a high economic and political power, means knowing how to propose one’s own value as a partner (sale of the global image of the company, rather than the simple sale of a product) and this represents something totally new for many companies, a difficult horizon. 

Especially for SMEs, it is difficult to negotiate on an intercultural level. In fact, in the past they were used to relationships with fragmented and divided distribution networks, to individual customer, which were not very valuable, to scarce or weak competition, in which the leverage was mainly on the part of the producer, etc. For all these reasons these companies have serious difficulties in moving from sale to negotiation. Companies, moreover, got used to selling abroad through foreign agents, while losing a large part of the margin towards distribution, without ever really deal with real intercultural negotiations. 

Competitive negotiation requires the creation of bargaining strength. The contractual strength depends on how unique the offer is (or on the lack of valid alternatives or substitutes) and on how much the counterpart needs the product you are selling, everything obviously mediated by communication skills. 

Managing negotiations requires preparation and role-playing. A single word can ruin a meeting

To sum up, in negotiations the competitive advantage depends on the bargaining strength. For the seller or proposer, strength depends on: 

  • the uniqueness of the offer: an offer that cannot be compared to other offers has more value; 
  • the lack of immediate alternatives: the impossibility of finding satisfaction elsewhere, even with reasonable effort; 
  • the lack of goods in substitution (different goods having a similar function, e.g.: train instead of plane); 
  • the urgency of the recipient’s need: a strong need generates less restrain and uncertainties; 
  • the proposer’s prestige: there are fewer barriers related to first glance evaluation of the partner if the proposer possesses prestige and credibility;  
  • the strength of the offer objective factors: performance features, performance technology and its real service; 
  • valorisation and communication abilities: in fact, these leverages cannot be automatically activated, even in the presence of a high degree of power, because activating them requires skills of valorisation and communication
  • the best possible use of bargaining strength (for those who make the offer) is positively related to the specific communication skills level of the negotiator (seller’s negotiation skills), while is negatively related to the buyer’s competences (buyer’s skills). 

Contract’s negotiations are one of those contexts, in which negotiation conflicts become more evident. Each contract clause can bear cultural meanings, culturally unacceptable positions, attacks on the interlocutor’s face and image. 

Legal culture is one of the most rigid culture in any national reality, and those who draw up contracts often takes an uncompromising and disrespectful position towards others’ cultures. 

One of the first concerns of intercultural negotiators is therefore not to spoil the result of long and tiring verbal and personal negotiations with written elements (e.g.: documents, correspondence, contracts, etc.). 

Let’s look at a real case: we will take into consideration some contract clauses proposed by an English IT company (here called XXX for privacy reasons) to an Eastern European correspondent, and its interpretations and reactions: 

Original Text  Perceived meaning and the counterpart’s comments 
You may not substitute the IT specialist for another IT specialist without XXX prior written consent  “We send whoever we want to assist other companies. All our technicians are qualified, we have already given them all possible and imaginable guarantees, now they must also approve of our technicians, from time to time, but who do they think they are?” 
During the period of this Agreement, you are retained on a non-exclusive ‘when-needed’ basis to perform the Services at such times and at such locations as XXX shall direct from time to time.  “But then we are not their partners, we are only there ‘when needed’. Are we, their servants? They talk about partnerships a lot and then write the opposite” 
You shall be responsible for rectification at your own expense of any work which in the reasonable opinion of our company or any of its clients was unsatisfactory   “Are we crazy? And if customers are dissatisfied because there are no spare parts, ‘cause they do not send them to us, what do we do? And then just for an “opinion” made by them or by one of their customers, who’s in a bad mood, we have to redo everything? But what are they thinking?” 
XXX will pay for economy class air or train travel  But look at these whore-goers! They are hunting foxes in fifty against a poor beast and now they want to send us around in second class, they will see … 

Every legal clause, like every conversational move, can be read as an approaching move, a loosening move, a distancing move or a neutral move, depending on the relational value it assumes and the presuppositions it contains. The highlighted clauses are evidently all received as moves of superiority, acts of force and submission. 

The outcome of these clauses, and many other clauses, that are part of the English contract – in the real case – generates the counterpart’s refusal to sign this contract. 

No company with a certain reputation in the market could ever agree to sign clauses that compromise its image so heavily. 

Yet, the contract was actually drafted by one of the leading London law firms, which is evidently completely ignorant about intercultural and relational values of legal contracts. 

One of the basic principles of semiotics is that every “sign” (a clause, a sentence) is not only an external form, but it also takes on a meaning. 

There is therefore an intercultural legal semiotics – a relational contract law, a science studying the relational values of contracts – that deals with the contracts relational meaning, avoiding disasters such as those shown in the example. 

A correct negotiation must not only protect the proposing party, but it must also safeguard the counterpart in its identity. 

"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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