Negotiating Across Cultures

As business becomes more global, it is inevitable that we will need to communicate and negotiate with people from different cultural backgrounds. Culture is a complete way of living and impacts both our verbal and our non-verbal communication. Negotiating with these communication difficulties can be very difficult.

Cultural communication differences occur mainly in five areas:

1. Their treatment of time

2. The directness of their communication

3. Their level of formality

4. Their propensity to negotiate

5. Their tendency to focus on the individual or the group


Different cultures treat time very differently. Monochronic cultures are driven by timelines and deadlines. Punctuality, to them, is a foundation-stone of professionalism. If they have a meeting at 10.00am they will arrive beforehand and be ready to start on time.

Polychronic cultures view deadlines as flexible and are much less strict with their punctuality (and expectations of others). In the example above, they will plan to be at the meeting by 10.00am; but will struggle to get there by 10.10am.

Those from a monochromic culture will often misjudge polychronics as unreliable & disorganised. Worse still, they will perceive the other is using the ‘slow-boat’ technique – deliberately progressing slowly to make it harder for the other side to walk away (because they have so much time and energy invested in the negotiation already.)

Communication Directness

The directness of our communication is determined by our preference for high or low context communication. With high context communication, much of the meaning is inferred. You have to ‘read between the lines’ and interpret the message as much from what is not said as what is said.

Low context speakers are more direct and blunt. They say what they mean and mean what they say! They are more concerned about being precise and clear about their expectations than avoiding difficult conversations or saving face.


This is a moving scale with different cultures having different levels of formality at the initial meeting and as the relationship progresses. This impacts on so many conspicuous areas (method of greeting, forms of address, touching, topics of conversation) that it deserves constant vigilance. Those from a high-formality culture may be perceived as stiff and inflexible, while those from a culture with a lower level of formality may be perceived as rude or insensitive.

Propensity to Negotiate

With some cultures, haggling is a way of life: everything is negotiable… always. These are called ‘high-negotiation’ cultures. Their view of the world is that circumstances constantly change, so why not ask if these changes have opened up more options.

In contrast, those from a non-negotiating culture will bargain as part of the negotiating process; but, in their minds, once the deal is done, it’s locked-in. They find those from a high-negotiating frustrating and may even misjudge them as being manipulative.

Individual or Group Focus

Some cultures celebrate the individual. These individualist cultures produce people who are comfortable in the limelight and expect recognition and credit for their accomplishments.

The alternative – collectivist cultures – value the community or group more than the individual. This produces people who will be less comfortable being singled out for attention or praise.

East Vs West?

Some writers have looked at cultural differences comparing Eastern and Western cultures. If this was ever valid, it is certainly too simplistic in today’s world. Here are two reasons:

• People move between cultures so much, their behaviour becomes a mix of both. Consider the number of people whose education has been a mix of Eastern Primary and Secondary Schools and Western Universities. Many Westerners have spent a majority of their career working in the East.

• Even within those hemispherical groupings there is massive variation. Consider the difference between negotiating with someone from mainland China and a Japanese; or the difference between negotiating with a German and an Australian.

Culture Vs Personality

Just because culture is the obvious difference between two parties, it is often blamed for negotiating difficulties when the actual problem is a personality clash. Cultural stereotyping is a powerful temptation that will only sabotage your attempts to reach agreement. Treat them as people first.

To effectively negotiate with someone from another culture, consider the five areas highlighted in this article. Where do you fit on a scale of each of these criteria? Where does the other party fit? If there are any significant differences you can prepare for them. For example, if the other party is more polychronic than you, you might allow for this when setting meeting times or in time-limiting your offer.

Cultural differences are a factor that will increasingly affect your negotiation success. Defining and quantifying your cultural differences will help you better understand the other person and make it more likely that they will understand you – a recipe for great deals!

Business Owners – Get New Customers With Video Presenting

Lights, Camera, Customers!

In a still tough economy, many small businesses are giving video presentations to market themselves. Master presentation skills and you can attract new customers. Use your business video to educate, create awareness and advertise your services.

Particularly exciting are the many ways to use video. For instance, you can create a high-definition video with a digital camera and turn it into an affordable advertisement.

More and more small businesses are flocking to video for commercials, infomercials, documentaries and film series to attract new customers.

According to the Los Angeles Times, slick ad campaigns are now much more affordable to small firms. There are bargains available such as radically lower production costs and remarkable ad rates.

Yet, even with the most affordable production and bargain rates, as a small business owner, there is one very real hurdle to overcome.

Getting up in front of a video camera and telling your story!

So, I’ll leave it to you to find the best local production company in your area. Just be sure to take advantage of all the bargains out there.

While you’re getting your production crew in order, use these tips. These 3-quick and simple video tips will help you enhance presentation skills. Get confident and get ready for being on camera – the easy way.

Video Tip 1: Be Authentic
Your customers and prospects want to see you – up close and personal. They aren’t looking for another phony or slick ad. Instead, they want to see you talking like a real, down-to-earth person.

Hint: Talk to the camera as if you were talking to your best friend.

Video Tip 2: Say Less
Viewers want to hear a short, catchy message. They don’t want to know all the nitty-gritty details about your business. And they definitely don’t want to hear you drone on about your precise business plan or strategic timeline- that’s for your planning wall only.

When you’re making a video, continuously challenge yourself to say less. Strangely enough, this will help you sound much more believable. Less is not truly easy. It’s hard work and you may have to struggle to define your core message.

Don’t give up. A short, pithy message in fewer words is the way to go!

Video Tip 3: Give Specific Instructions
Video messages are short and punchy. Tell people watching what to do next – and be specific.

For instance:

• Download a special report
• Stop by for a limited offer
• Get a discount until Friday midnight
• Be the first 100 people and get ‘X’ for free

Short, understandable and specific next steps are best.

Come up with a specific action that anyone can understand.

Hint: If you are short on ideas, look at television ads and infomercials. While you don’t have to recreate the ads on late-night television, this will give you loads of ideas for specific instructions.

Put these three tips together and get comfortable presenting your business story on video. Then, go get the visibility your company deserves.

Now, what are you waiting for? There’s customers to attract and money to be made with your new business videos.

If you are serious about presenting effectively on video, get instant access to presentation skills training. Discover how to simplify your story, connect with your audience and inspire people to take action.

Even if you’ve never stood in front of a camera before, on-demand training is the fastest and most affordable option. Boost your presentation skills on camera and become a powerful presenter.

Just think: smart business owners are already promoting their solutions with powerful video presentations. Get comfortable with presenting on camera and make this your best summer ever!

Did President Obama Negotiate Badly

When President Obama took office, he had a very long list of items he wanted to accomplish. Those on the far right said he was being too aggressive with his agenda. Those on the far left said he was not being aggressive enough. The president’s number one mistake was, he allowed those that supported his campaign to think they’d get everything he promised during the campaign. He did not manage their expectations.

When you negotiate, do you manage expectations and set priorities for the outcome you seek from the negotiation? If so, do you also focus on what matters to the other negotiator. By focusing on the other negotiator’s needs, you subliminally send a message that you’re seriously trying to ‘solve’ her problem, which should in turn solicit her support for your position. At the junctions of those intersections will lay the point from which you can begin to negotiate. The following are additional negotiation strategies you can incorporate when managing expectations and setting priorities during your negotiations.

1. Vilification: Assess the need to vilify the position of the other negotiator when you negotiate. If you seek cooperation, vilification will only serve as an additional obstacle to overcome.

2. Agenda: Be cautious of taking on too much when negotiating. The more options you incorporate into a negotiation agenda, the greater the potential for failure.

3. Balance: Be careful not to appear too weak, or too aggressive. In any negotiation, one has to strike a fine balance between being perceived as too strong and appearing to be too weak. One can bridge that balance without being pervasive. Observe the interpretations of your actions by the other negotiator, for insight into whether you’re being perceived as too weak or too aggressive.

4. Reality: Perception is reality. The way you depict a situation, is reality to you. To the degree you ‘shape’ the perception of the other negotiator, you shape his reality. Seek to shape the opinion of an outcome, in order to have the opinion valued from your perspective. If you don’t, the other negotiator will apply his perception to the position and if it drastically differs from yours, you’ll initially have to negotiate from his perspective.

5. Likability: Are you likable? When negotiating, likability can be a benefit. It can also be an albatross. President Obama is very likable. His poll numbers bear out this fact. Some of the members of the president’s party have stated that he needs to become ‘tougher’. By appearing tough, you, at a minimum, allow the other negotiator to ‘see’ by your actions that you’re willing to ‘draw a line in the sand’, from which you will not retreat. Make sure you assess ‘balance’ in your ‘tough’ appearance.

By being attentive to the variables, narrative, and makeup of your negotiation and addressing them succinctly, you improve your negotiation position and the probability of reaching the outcome you seek. In so doing, your negotiation efforts should sail without being assailed… and everything will be right with the world.

The Negotiation Tips Are…

· Manage expectations. If time is a consideration that’s needed to influence the outcome of a position, inform the other negotiator of the consideration. By doing so, you’ll subliminally address the fact that the situation will not be corrected ‘overnight’ and you’ll ‘buy’ more time and understanding, as a position from which to negotiate.

· Never be afraid to adapt to a position when you negotiate. You can be adaptive without losing the personality you possess. President Obama is having a difficult time adapting, because he doesn’t want to have his ‘likable’ personality altered. Don’t be trapped by being immobile.

· When negotiating, be aware of a general consent from those who are discontent. In essence, pay attention to the mode of the negotiation. The mode will give you a sense for the direction in which the negotiation is moving.