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HANA BUI 15 MAY 2020 (in the Myanmar Times)

A survey from 68 countries indicated that 90 percent of senior executives see “cross-cultural leadership” as the biggest management challenge of this century, according The Economist. Up to 40 percent of managers sent on overseas assignments terminate early. The cost to employers of each early return is between US$250,000 – $1,250,000. In most cases, the reason is cultural issues rather than professional or technical skills.

Expats in Myanmar are not exceptions. Even the cultural challenge they face here is tougher, since Myanmar opened its economy to the world less than ten years ago, as one of the last frontier markets in the world. Like it or not, Myanmar was in isolation from the outside world for over five decades. Thus, expats working in the enchanting Myanmar have often found lots of setbacks – oddities, quirks, idiosyncrasies due to cultural differences. These cultural differences can create a dreadful barrier to communication between expats and Myanmar people, affecting expats’ ability to build connections, motivate and collaborate with local people. “What is different is dangerous”, Geert Hofstede – the leading scholar in intercultural theories states.

Dr. Geert Hofstede,a psychologist, published his “cultural dimensions” model more than forty years ago, based on a decade of research. The model has become an international standard for understanding cultural differences. He identifies six cultural dimensions that help distinguish cultures from each other, in terms of the attitudes and relationships. These dimensions can be measured, and are identified as: Power Distance, Masculinity, Uncertainty Avoidance, Long-term Orientation, and Restraint. This article will focus on the dimension of Power Distance, an important orientation to understand in the Myanmar workplace.

Power Distance – The East vs the West

Power Distance refers to the extent to which the less powerful members of organisations and institutions accepts and expects that power is distributed unequally. Power distance describes how people belonging to a specific culture view power relationships between people– superior/subordinate relations. The Power Distance Index (PDI) measures the degree to which the members of a group or society accept the hierarchy of power and authority. PDI has had a substantial influence in intercultural training.

A society with a high PDI score indicates that it accepts an unequal, hierarchical distribution of power, and that people understand “their place” in the system. On the contrary, a society with a low PDI score means that power is shared and is widely dispersed, and that society’s members do not easily accept unequal distributions of power.

For example, Asian countries normally have high PDI score, while lots of Western countries have a low PDI score. According to Hosftede’s Insights, the PDI score of China is 80 out of 100, Singapore is 74, Thailand 64, while the PDI score of America is 40, Germany at 35, The Netherlands at 38. In America an individual can criticise the president and his/her party publicly, but an individual would face a tough situation or even danger if they publicly criticised the president and government of China, for example.

Hofstede’s Power Distance Index map. The lighter green countries are generally more egalitarian, and darker green ones showing a higher degree of power distance.

How power distance can cause problems

Intercultural differences between makers of airplanes Boeing and Airbus (from small power distance countries) and pilots from South Korea (a large power distance country) caused a major accident in the late 1990s.

Airbus and Boeing produced planes which are supposed to be flown by 2 pilots without a significant power distance between them. Being on equal-par, in terms of status and power, one pilot is supposed to correct the other when necessary. With pilots having a large power distance between them, the airline increases the risk of accidents given that the co-pilot is less likely to correct the more senior colleague.

Indeed, ignorance of the power distance in the workplace would lead to dreadful consequences – for example, Korean Air flight 801’s missed approach to Antonio B Won Pat International Airport in Guam on August 6 1997, killing 229 people on board.

Myanmar Survival Rule # 1 –Hierarchy

Whether it’s at a monastery, in the classroom or at home, Myanmar is a high power distance culture. Myanmar is a hierarchical country as opposed to egalitarian Western countries. Though other religions make use of hierarchy, Myanmar Buddhism encourages people to submit to five most important entities in society: Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha (Community), Parents, and Teachers. “Don’t disrespect the Buddha” is a vital law. There is the body hierarchy too, meaning that the head is the purest part and the feet the dirtiest. Hence why people take their shoes off inside the pagoda and house, and never touch someone on their head.

High power distance is also reflected in the work place, especially in local companies or businesses. The organisations are centralised with the business owner making decisions without real delegation to subordinates. The organisational structures reflect complex hierarchies. We would also see autocratic leadership, paternalistic management style, many levels of management and large numbers of supervisory staff. Subordinates expect to be told what to do, and how to do it. In Myanmar, there is also a special respect for elders and seniors.

These values can often conflict with those in international organisations, which may have a structure. In some places, supervisors and employees are considered almost as equals and the manager may even converse with the cleaning staff. The authority at these multinational companies may be decentralised, so decision making is delegated as much as possible. There is a participative management style and a smaller proportion of supervisory staff. Thus hierarchy plays a role in many conflicts between Myanmar businesses hiring overseas managers and workers, and international companies working with Myanmar staff.

What does it mean to expats working in Myanmar?

If expats work with local business partners, or for a local organisation, it is good to acknowledge a leader’s status. Whatever you do, don’t push back explicitly. The owner normally makes all decisions – so beware. There may not be real delegation so you may need to go to the top of the organisation if you want answers.

When expat managers lead a team in an international company, be aware that many Myanmar people are used to the high power distance culture, so they may expect you to make decisions, or expect you tell them what to do. You need to provide detailed instructions, and follow-up closely. “Be less demanding, and provide more coaching” is a good mindset to have.

In many meetings, expats would feel frustrated because local colleagues do not speak up, raise opinions – preferring to keep quiet or agree with whatever their manager/supervisor says. This is because of the power distance orientation in the culture. At Myanmar universities, lecturers are also the ones to provide all knowledge about particular subjects. Students are seldom expected to question this.

Elders and seniors are highly regarded in Myanmar society. In a meeting in an organization, younger people infrequently express opposing ideas to their managers. It would be considered inappropriate. As such, a younger manager may face some difficulties managing her older subordinates.

Many foreigners say they do not understand why there is such respect given to elder colleagues, without any particular reason. There is indeed a reason – age links to wisdom and knowledge. As a local proverb puts it: “The older the person, the wiser his brain” (Shar bin o-lay a-hnit pyit-lay).

Understanding the social custom of paying respect to seniors is essential for people in an organisation in Myanmar. For example, a junior does not dare to “ask back” when in the boardroom. That would be considered challenging a senior, which violates the hierarchal relationship. In fact, a very habitual behavior of local colleagues in Myanmar is to hesitate when responding to an expat supervisor. Even if they do not understand what is being said, it would violate the hierarchy of respect for them to seek clarification and understanding by questioning the person.

It is not an issue that can be solved easily and quickly. Basically expats should create an environment that their local colleagues feel “safe” to speak out. They know and may experience that even their ideas are different from their expat supervisors, and areappreciated. In the long run, it requires that they have the ultimate “trust” on the expats so that the local colleagues can dare to raise their voice. Stephen Covey, author of The Speed of Trust, writes “Trust is the glue of life. It is the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It is the foundation principle that holds all relationships.”

Many Myanmar people may find expats interesting too, because of the differences in cultures. They may desire to break out of their cultural conditioning, but to even attempt this requires building trust.

Hana Bui is an intercultural trainer and best-selling author with the book “When Global Meets Local – How Expatriates Can Succeed in Myanmar”. It is the first-time popular guidebook for expats on how to work well with local colleagues. Hana can be contacted at hana@interculturemyanmar.com

© 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 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

__________

For further information see:

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

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Today’s article will 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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  • disagreements
  • Effective intercultural negotiation techniques
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  • front-line communication
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  • How cultural differences affect negotiations?
  • How does culture influence negotiation?
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  • open communication
  • transparent communication
  • What are the 5 stages of negotiation?
  • What is effective intercultural negotiation?
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  • working on attitudes
  • working on skills
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  • intercultural differences in verbal and non-verbal communication
  • communicative difficulties in the decision-making process
  • poor group cohesion
  • different cultural view of leaders’ behaviours
  • Power paradox arousal
  • Different culturally-based leadership expectations
  • Team members’ culturally different reactions to leadership

© 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 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:

TAGS:

  • ALM business method
  • act like professionals
  • active training
  • achieving results
  • awareness of one’s role in negotiation
  • Best coach in intercultural communication in the world
  • Best coach in intercultural facilitation in the world
  • Best coach in intercultural negotiation in the world
  • Best world consultant in intercultural communication
  • Best world consultant in intercultural negotiation
  • Best world expert in intercultural communication
  • Best world expert in intercultural negotiation
  • Best world trainer in intercultural communication
  • Best world trainer in intercultural negotiation
  • book on intercultural communication
  • book on intercultural negotiation
  • book on strategic selling
  • breaking the barriers of incommunicability
  • building relationships
  • communication difficulties
  • communication skills
  • communication skills acquisition
  • Communication techniques intercultural communication
  • Communication techniques intercultural negotiation
  • communication training
  • conversational skills
  • creative strategies
  • cross cultural communication
  • cross cultural misunderstanding
  • cross-cultural adaptation
  • cultural systems
  • dialogue between companies
  • different cultural approach
  • different cultural context
  • direct line of communication
  • disagreements
  • Effective intercultural negotiation techniques
  • face-to-face communication
  • fighting spirit
  • front-line communication
  • Get-Ready Mind Set
  • helping relationships
  • high-context cultures
  • How cultural differences affect negotiations?
  • How does culture influence negotiation?
  • Human Potential
  • intercultural communication
  • intercultural communication book
  • Intercultural communication books
  • Intercultural Communication Coaching
  • intercultural communication pdf
  • Intercultural Communication Trainers
  • Intercultural Communication Training
  • Intercultural conversation management techniques
  • Intercultural Negotiation
  • Intercultural negotiation books
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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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  • winning relationships
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  • World’s most famous expert in intercultural communication
  • World’s most famous expert in intercultural negotiation

© 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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  • direct line of communication
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  • Effective intercultural negotiation techniques
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  • front-line communication
  • high-context cultures
  • How cultural differences affect negotiations?
  • How does culture influence negotiation?
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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
  • Best coach in intercultural facilitation in the world
  • Best coach in intercultural negotiation in the world
  • Best Intercultural communication book
  • Best world consultant in intercultural communication
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  • Emotion Management in Intercultural Negotiation
  • Mental Noise Theory
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  • priorities
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  • 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 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 

__________

For further information see:

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  • Status
  • Status achievement
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  • conquering power
  • feeling of superiority
  • climbing to status
  • defensive counter-moves
  • re-balancing the situation
  • superior position
  • status negotiation
  • avoidable statements
  • culture evaluation of status
  • bargaining strenght
  • bargaining power
  • proposing one’s own value as a partner
  • competitive negotiation
  • negotiation leverage
  • offer uniqueness
  • lack of alternatives
  • recipient’s need urgency
  • proposer’s prestige
  • skills of valorisation and communication
  • legal culture
  • contract clauses
  • contract negotiation
  • contract interpretation
  • approaching moves
  • loosening moves
  • distancing moves
  • neutral moves
  • compromising the company’s image
  • moves of superiority
  • acts of force
  • acts of submission
  • intercultural legal semiotics
  • signs bear cultural meanings
  • protecting the proposing party
  • safeguarding the counterpart’s identity 

 

© Article translated from the book “Negoziazione interculturale, comunicazione oltre le barriere culturali” (Intercultural Negotiation: Communication Beyond Cultural Barriers) copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available for any Publisher wishing to consider it for publication in English and other languages except for Italian and Arab whose rights are already sold and published. If you are interested in publishing the book in English, or any other language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact the author from the webstite www.danieletrevisani.com 

__________

Today’s topic is about status, which is difficult to achieve, but even more difficult to maintain. This feeling of uncertainty related to these difficulties in negotiation gives rise to status anxiety, which can negatively affect the outcome of a meeting.

Here are some definitions that Alain De Botton (2004) provides with respect to status anxiety. 

Status 

– The position of a person in society; the word derives from the supine statum of the Latin verb stare. 

 – Strictly speaking, the term refers to the legal or professional position that a person has within a group, for example to his marital status (married) or to his rank (lieutenant). In a broad sense, it indicates the value and importance that this person assumes in the eyes of others: and this is the meaning that interests us most. 

– In the transition from one society to another, the categories that possess greater social prestige change … from 1776 until today (vague but indicative term…) status has been increasingly associated with economic success. 

– The effects of a high social position are gratifying; we have money, freedom, space, time, comfort, and, last, but not least, the feeling of being loved and esteemed when others invite and flatter us, laugh at our jokes (even those without humor) and show us deference and consideration. 

– For many people a high social position represents one of the most coveted assets, even if there are only a few that would be willing to openly confess it. 

Status anxiety 

– The fear – sometimes so nagging as to compromise entire existential phases – of not corresponding to the models of success proposed by society and, consequently, of losing all dignity and respect; The suffering induced by the fear of occupying very low rank in the social scale or of being downgraded. 

– This anxiety is caused by various factors such as periods of economic recession, redundancy, promotions, retirement, conversations with colleagues in the same sector; but also, by successful people who attract the interest of the press or by friends who have had better luck than us. It is often associated with feelings of envy, even if it is usually not confessedand can lead to unpleasant social consequences; therefore, the signs of this inner drama are scarcely evident and are generally limited to the thoughtful gaze, the stunted smile and the unwarranted silence with which we welcome news of other people’s successes. 

– If the place we occupy in the social ladder makes us feel concerned, it means that the consideration we have of ourselves largely depends on the idea that others have of us. Unlike a few exceptional characters, such as Socrates or Jesus, we need to know that the world respects us to be able to accept ourselves. 

– The fact that the status, already difficult to conquer, is even more difficult to maintain over the course of a lifetime is very unfortunate. If we exclude those societies in which status is established at birth – for example for reasons of noble descent – one’s status usually depends on what one manages to achieve in life. Moreover, there are many possible causes of failure, such as the lack of self-knowledge, macroeconomic factors and others’ cruelty. 

– Moreover, this failure originates humiliationdevastating awareness of not being able to convince the world of our worthwhich condemns us, on one hand, to consider with bitterness those who are successful, and, on the other hand, to be ashamed of ourselves. 

Thesis 

– Status anxiety can generate suffering. 

– The desire to reach a higher status can have, like all desires, its usefulness: it can lead us to value our talents, to improve ourselves, to avoid extravagant and harmful behaviours and to favour social aggregation based on a common system of values. But, like all desires, if exasperated, it can kill. 

– Understanding this anxious condition and talking about it can be the most effective therapeutic approach. 

Therefore, we should not be surprised if in a negotiation both sides try to assert their status and suffer from status anxiety. However, we must ask ourselves which mechanisms are useful for negotiation, and which ones are destructive. We must ask ourselves – and know how to recognize – others’ mechanisms of climbing to status and conquering power in negotiation, and the defensive counter-moves. We must consciously avoid making status anxiety predominate and strive to seek a negotiating solution that is useful for both parties. 

The main questions of intercultural negotiation are therefore: 

  • Starting from my interlocutor’s culture point of view, what are the avoidable statements that can hit his/her status? 
  • How can I re-balance the situation when my interlocutor puts himself in a superior position
  • How can I produce a positive image of myself and my company, without giving the feeling of superiority, consequently unleashing resentments and vengeful mechanisms? 
  • How does my interlocutor’s culture evaluate status; what confers status in that culture? 
  • How much of the negotiation time should you dedicate to negotiate status and how much should you dedicate to evaluate the topics for discussion? 
  • Besides the mutual acquaintance phase, when do status issues arise in the negotiation? While negotiating conditions? While fixing prices or logistics? in legal practices? Or in contract statements? 

To be continued…

"Intercultural Negotiation" by Daniele Trevisani

© Article translated from the book “Negoziazione interculturale, comunicazione oltre le barriere culturali” (Intercultural Negotiation: Communication Beyond Cultural Barriers) copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available for any Publisher wishing to consider it for publication in English and other languages except for Italian and Arab whose rights are already sold and published. If you are interested in publishing the book in English, or any other language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact the author from the webstite www.danieletrevisani.com 

__________

For further information see:

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
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  • communication training
  • conversational skills
  • creative strategies
  • cross cultural communication
  • cross cultural misunderstanding
  • cross-cultural adaptation
  • cultural systems
  • 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 training
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  • 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
  • Status
  • Status achievement
  • Status Anxiety
  • conquering power
  • feeling of superiority
  • climbing to status
  • defensive counter-moves
  • re-balancing the situation
  • superior position
  • status negotiation
  • avoidable statements
  • culture evaluation of status

© Article translated from the book “Negoziazione interculturale, comunicazione oltre le barriere culturali” (Intercultural Negotiation: Communication Beyond Cultural Barriers) copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available for any Publisher wishing to consider it for publication in English and other languages except for Italian and Arab whose rights are already sold and published. If you are interested in publishing the book in English, or any other language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact the author from the webstite www.danieletrevisani.com 

__________

In this article I will examine 2 important topics of intercultural negotiation communication: the first concerns the personal image management, while the second one is related to the superiority-inferiority conflict.

In every negotiation comparing respective statuses becomes inevitable. However, statuses are considered intra-cultural and not cross-cultural elements. We cannot assume that a person belonging to an “other” culture recognizes a status that comes from an unknown system.

Let’s observe this real dialogue between two colleagues at a restaurant, the first is Italian and the second one is American.

US negotiator: “In America my family is in the upper-middle class, we have a thousand square meter apartment in New York, but my neighbours built a mezzanine, doubling the airspace, if business goes well next season I can enter the upper class, and build a mezzanine too. My children have two PlayStations each, and I’m giving them a good education: for each hour of study I multiply x 2 their possibility of using the PlayStation, so if they study an hour I let them use the PlayStation for 2 hours, if they study 15 minutes I let them use it for only half an hour, timed.”

Italian’s response: “But do you listen to your children or do you time them?” (unspoken thought: you can also have a mezzanine of a square kilometre, but for me you are always an asshole)

We are not interested here in discussing who is wrong and if someone is wrong, but it is clear that the American interlocutor is exposing a particular image of himself. He is expressing a “face” and he is indirectly exposing which are the status rules he believes in, and his convictions on the most appropriate pedagogical methods. For this person having a mezzanine and two PlayStations is an indicator of status. It is also clear that the Italian interlocutor does not accept these rules and that he measures personal value differently.

A more or less conscious management of one’s “social face” is part of every negotiation. However, on an intercultural level, sending out unconscious messages and producing damages during negotiations can be very easy.

Principle 20 – Managing one’s own status and the interlocutor’s status; “face” games and intercultural impressions management

The success of intercultural negotiation depends on:

  • the ability to create an adequate status perception within the interlocutor’s judgment system;
  • the ability to create positive impressions (identity management and impression management);
  • the ability to acquire status and “face” without resorting to undue attack mechanisms, that can damage others’ “faces” (“face” aggression or personal image reduction, absolute avoidance of top-down approaches);

Alain de Botton reports this passage which shows us how even at the highest diplomatic and negotiating levels one can be very ignorant of what transversal messages are being emitted and of the degree of damage that can be produced by knowingly or not knowingly placing oneself in a top-down position.

In July 1959, US Vice President Richard Nixon went to Moscow to inaugurate an exhibition dedicated to his country’s technological and material innovations. The main attraction was a life-size copy of the house of the average worker, with carpet, TV in the living room, two bathrooms, central heating and a kitchen equipped with a washing machine, a dryer and a refrigerator.

During various press services, the Soviet press, somewhat irritated, declared that no American worker could have lived in such a luxurious house – ironically named “Taj Mahal” by Soviets – and defined it a means of propaganda.

Khrushchev maintained a rather sceptical attitude when he accompanied Nixon to the exhibition. As he observed the kitchen of the house in question, the Soviet leader pointed to an electric juicer and said that no sane person would ever think of buying certain “stupid items”. “Anything that can help a woman doing her work is useful,” Nixon replied. “We do not consider women as workers, as you do in the capitalist system,” Khrushchev retorted angrily.

Later that evening, Nixon was invited to give a speech at the Soviet television and used the occasion to illustrate the benefits of the American way of life. Cunningly, he did not begin to speak of democracy and human rights, but of money and material progress. He explained that, thanks to entrepreneurship and industrial activity, in a few centuries Western countries had managed to overcome poverty and famine, which were widespread until the mid-eighteenth century and still present in many areas of the world. Americans owned fifty-six million televisions and one hundred and fifty-three million radios according to what Nixon reported to Soviet viewers, many of whom did not even have a private bathroom or a kettle for making tea. About thirty-one million Americans lived in their own home, and an average family was able to buy nine clothes and fourteen pairs of shoes a year. In the United States, you could buy a house by choosing from a thousand different architectural styles, and o certain houses were often larger than a television studio. At that point Khrushchev, sitting next to Nixon and increasingly irritated, clenched his fists and exclaimed “Net, Net! “, while apparently adding in an undertone ” Eb ’tvoju babusku” (Go fuck your grandmother).

What clearly emerges from this passage is the (perhaps) unwitting offense to poverty that Nixon transfers to Russian people, placing himself in a top-down position, superior position vs. lower position.

For too many times, negotiators do not realize that they are performing an “abuse of dominant position” (displaying excessive superiority that damages others) or practicing a “presumption of dominance” (thinking of oneself in superior terms).

Communication reveals self- conceptions and relationship conceptions even though the participants do not want to reveal them.

Let’s see another example and observe some passages of this email:

Dr Trevisani

Two colleagues and I are close to retirement and after an intense activity as top managers in various multinationals we decided to create an external company. I ask you to be our consultant and to provide us with your valuable advices to help us build a successful company. Do your best to check if you can come to advise us in Turin. Anyway, send me a commercial offer because I must show it to my partners for approval. Please send me also your CV. I will present it to my two partners, so as to persuade them to approve your advice. This consultancy intervention must be done within January 2005.

Thank you in advance for your help.

signature

This message intercultural problem is of psycholinguistic type and it concerns the use of the imperative and the enormous quantity of presuppositions present.

Let’s look at some implicit assumptions linked to this message:

  1. some people believe that a commercial offer can be made without having analysed the problem and the necessary intervention times;
  2. Others think that the recipient will send his CV to someone he/she does not know, without being informed on how and for what purposes this CV will be used (it takes only a few seconds to write a writing a reason on an email, but the real motives can be different);
  3. There is also the assumption that the customer can dictate times and that it is the recipient, and not the writer, who must make the trip;
  4. It is taken for granted that the recipient wants to work for the sender and that he approves intentions and projects.

The apparently courteous message reveals a culture that is not exactly courteous.

In the Italian culture being in the “buyer” position is a strength and working for years in a multinational company makes the buyer acquire a strongest attitude of strength and superiority.

The sender actually expresses an aggressive multinational culture, which is based on the belief that a multinational can “rule the world”, a way of being consequently absorbed by its managerial education. However, the Italian culture is not unique, and we cannot think that the prototype of the multinational’s dominance over a consultant, or of a buyer over a possible seller, is accepted by everyone.

The ALM method culture believes that there must be a certain degree of values commonality ​​for a project to start.

We must always consider that our culture is not automatically the culture of others. The right strategy is therefore to avoid putting the counterpart in conditions of presumed inferiority or to assign automatic superiority.

"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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