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

__________

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

What is culture shock?

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

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

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

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

The process of culture shock is divided in 4 stages:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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© Article translated from the book “Negoziazione interculturale. Comunicazione oltre le barriere culturali” (Intercultural Negotiation: Communication Beyond Cultural Barriers) copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available. If you are interested in publishing the book in English, or any other language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact the Website on Intercultural Negotiation

__________

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

The Risk of Emotional Dragging during Negotiations

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

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

Intra-Session Dragging

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

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

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

Dragging between Sessions

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

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

Dragging between Emotional States of Personal Life and Professional Situations

Personal life inevitably generates emotional experiences.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Techniques to Manage and Reduce Emotional Stress in Negotiation

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

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

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

Usable techniques are:

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

© Article translated from the book “Negoziazione interculturale. Comunicazione oltre le barriere culturali” (Intercultural Negotiation: Communication Beyond Cultural Barriers) copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available. If you are interested in publishing the book in English, or any other language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact the Website on Intercultural Negotiation

__________

For further information see:

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  • 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

__________

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

__________

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

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

Being Accepted   

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

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

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

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

Feeling Safe  

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

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

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

Human Relationships

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

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

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

Cleanliness and Punctuality  

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

This is why everything is always clean and punctual.  

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

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

The Japanese Language  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

__________

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Intercultural Negotiation" by Daniele Trevisani

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

__________

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