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Cultural Factors in Negotiations – Part 1

Different cultures enter into negotiation with different expectations. Therefore, when dealing with negotiations across cultures, you will find that the steps you need to take will be different. Look for clues that help you understand how the other party views sense of time, appropriateness of places, significance of gender and body language, and patterns of communication. Being aware of these differences and adjusting your negotiation expectations will provide the best environment for a successful negotiation.

In part 1 of this 2 part post, we will examine the factors of time and place.

Sense of Time
Some cultures run rigidly by the clock, while others are more fluid when interpreting a start and end time for meetings or deadlines. Try to be as flexible as possible with time constraints. Beginning a meeting later than planned is a minor inconvenience if the outcome is favorable for you. While you may be ingrained with the idea that a late start is a snub or rude statement, other cultures may simply view time as an inconsequential factor to preparedness or convenience.

Settings or Places
Various cultures view the setting and location of negotiations as critical. Some will not want to discuss business during refreshments or meals, while others will come directly to the point while giving you a hug or hoisting a beverage. Be open to either launching in directly or waiting until invited to discuss the matter at hand. Allow your host to dictate the pace. Or if you are the host, try to discern the other party’s expectations beforehand.

Negotiation with different cultures provides an interesting challenge and a new facet in your professional experience. In part 2 of Cultural Factors in Negotiations, we will elaborate on gender, body language, and communication patterns that may affect negotiations with cultural variations.