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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 

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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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For further information see:

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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 

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Negotiation is not based on a free conversation, like an uncontrolled flow of thoughts expressed in words, but it must be managed and conducted. Everything must be guided in a strategic way by letting the negotiation of content be preceded by a negotiation of identity. Now, let’s take a look at its various aspects.

Each company is able to actively influence the fate of its negotiations, even though it does not determine it entirely. Negotiations do not take place in an abstract world, but in the concrete one. Regaining possession of the ability to affect one’s destiny, its present and future (increasing of the internal focus of control), is a fundamental issue, which also affects the way in which we want to shape negotiations and human relationships.

In order to avoid a possible conflict, it is necessary to recognize that we are negotiating, that we are different and that this conflict could arise any time if we don’t do something to prevent it. Diversity must be expressed explicitly, so as not to have to face repercussions.

When a negotiation starts latently, in order to acquire a negotiating awareness, the negotiator must ask himself/herself a few questions:

  • Are we both aware that we are negotiating?
  • Are we negotiating details or common ground preparational topics?
  • Am I negotiating with the right person?
  • Is the setting adequate, given the topic we are discussing? Is this the right place? Is this the right time?
  • What factors can I manipulate to set up the negotiation? What are the factors under my control? How can I bring external and situational factors back into my area of control?

The Conversation analysis allows you to define which moves and communication strategies the interlocutors use to define and negotiate their own identity.

The ALM method recognizes the necessity to divide all strategic objectives of the negotiation communication, distinguishing between:

  • Identity identification and identity sale: being recognized as the right person that can solve the problem, creating a value perception in the supplier – as a subject – in the person or in the faced role;
  • Value mix creation and product/solution selling: creating a value perception of the details of an offer.

The intercultural impression management is the art and/or ability to arouse positive impressions on one’s role (it has nothing to do with boasting importance), in order to overcome negotiation filters. All negotiators must be able to practice it, so as to become aware of their own strength and identity, of the uniqueness they possess and of their real value. However, they cannot forget to mix this self-awareness with the ability to make it emerge in communication.

Likewise, no negotiation can be successful if we are not able to sort out mutual identitiy’s boundaries, roles boundaries and the way in which we can start a cooperative dialogue.

During intercultural negotiations it is necessary to use specific conversational moves to create one’s own identity, while managing to make the other interlocutor perceive the value of that same identity as a part of the cultural context. Identity is attributed according to one’s cultural frame of mind.

We cannot assume that people are able to recognize each other’s identities automatically. “Who am I” and “Who are you” are two of the most overlooked aspects/questions in intercultural negotiations.

During business negotiations between companies, right from the very first moment of the meeting, everyone enters a weak or unconscious negotiation.

Deciding to meet at “our” company, at “their” company, or at a neutral location (and where), is already part of the negotiation process.

We use the term “weak negotiation” not because we are talking about something of little importance, but because we are referring to something weakly perceived as a real moment of negotiation. Its real importance, however, is very strong, as it sets first impressions (imprinting of the personal and corporate image) and starting positions.

The real problem is that “weak” situations, such as preliminary contacts, e-mails, phone calls, logistical messages exchanges, etc., are often not recognized as real negotiations, and they risk being underestimated.

Strong or explicit negotiations, on the other hand, concern situations in which both parties have officially stated that they are undergoing a real negotiation. For this reason, formalisms, formal bargaining mechanisms, negotiation tables, trading platforms and other open and institutionalized trading tools have already been set up.

The negotiation between companies usually take the shape of a clash between identities, ways of being and values. No company really has the same culture or the same behavioural models of other companies, however similar they may be. Diversity grows even more when physical and cultural distances become wide, as in intercontinental and in interethnic contexts.

"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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For further information see:

© 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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In the following article we are going to introduce the concept of conversation analysis, a fundamental study that can help you improve your negotiation skills. 

To start a productive negotiation analysis, we have to distinguish between 3 different phases:

  • preparing for a negotiation” phase: briefing, data collection, interlocutors analisys, positions analisys, , preparing a list of arguments and agendas, role-playing, action lines development and testing;
  • comunication phase or front-line phase: face-to-face contact phase;
  • analysis e debriefing phase: negotiation results analysis and preparation to all next phases.

The preparation phase requires you to study the largest possible amount of information, so that you can start  the face-to face phase with a situational awareness (knowledge of the facts) and with a cultural awareness (knowledge of basic cultural elements).

The negotation phase represents the negotiating ground, the “moment of truth”, in which the most significant actions take place and, since they’re taking place during conversation, they are irreversible.

The debriefing phase is necessary to absorb information and it includes, at least:

  • a behavioral debriefing: our behaviours analysis, mistakes analysis, others’ behaviours analysis, and
  • a strategic debriefing: practical implications, results analysis, preparation of all next steps.

Negotiation usually requires different “preparation-contact-debriefing” cicles. For this reason we can assimilate it to a cyclical process.

The Conversation Analysis is one of the most useful branch of knowledge used in the communication field to understand how people interact during face-to face contacts.

From a scientific point of view the CA analyzes how people manage the conversational turns and how they try to interact, but from a practical perspective the AC possible applications are extremely rare. In fact the CA was aimed mostly at social and personal interactions and much less at dialogues between companies.

From a linguistic point of view, the ALM method, by using some concepts of the CA and numerous original additions, tries to “dismantle” the conversation by analyzing it as a set of conversational acts, to study its structure and apply it to the concrete problems of companies and organizations that have to negotiate effectively.

From the semiotic point of view, we can ask ourselves (1) what are the meanings and interpretations of meaning that each actor gives to the individual moves on a relationship level (relational semantics), and (2) what are the practical effects on the relationship itself (relational pragmatics).

Thanks to the analysis of conversational moves and of entire pieces of interaction, it is possible to help managers and negotiators (1) decoding the conversation, and (2) acquiring greater conversational skills. 

Furthermore, we can train and educate negotiators to produce a more efficient and aware conversational strategy, even within their own culture. 

The conversational moves can be defined as specific actions or “emissions” created by an interlocutor.

Some conversational moves are, for example:

  • to assert,
  • to anticipate,
  • to attack,
  • to give up a turn,
  • to ask for clarifications
  • to conquer the turn
  • etc..

Negotiation can be seen, then, as a set of moves. Each culture makes some of these repertoires its own and expands them, rejecting others, or relegating them to a few communicative areas.

In the Japanese culture, for example, saying a sharp “no” is considered a very rude act, but this does not mean that a Japanese manager can not learn saying “No” in a dry way. Relying on simple stereotypes and taking them as certainties is a mistake.

Each move is related to the subject’s previous moves and to the moves made by others.

In the intra-cultural field there are specific repertoires and coversational rules that are generally shared, while in the intercultural area the level of diversity increases, because in each culture the conversational moves are used differently.

During a negotiation, depending on the relational value, we must pay attention to:

  • approaching moves (signs of sympathy, friendship, affection, willingness to collaborate, signs of union, etc.) and 
  • distancing moves (detachment, antipathy, refusal, willingness to keep one’s distance, etc.).

If we look at the conversation contents during a negotiation, it is important to distinguish between:

  • opening moves (exploring new information, widening, broading of conversational field, etc.) and
  • closing moves (attempting to conclude, to concretize);

and also between:

  • listening moves (empathy, questions, data collection), and
  • propositional moves (statements, positions, requests).
libro "Negoziazione Interculturale" di 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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For further information see: