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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 

The result of the lack of proper negotiator training is failure

As Zorzi (1996) points out, communication requires conversational cooperation and work on the negotiation of meanings: “Analyzing intercultural encounters, we have seen how the interaction between people from different cultures is marked by a series of moments of asynchrony, which manifest themselves in silences, overlaps, unexpected reactions, interruptions, etc. which show the difficulty of establishing and maintaining conversational cooperation due to differences in cultural background and communication conventions.

Participants, normally unaware of both socio-cultural knowledge and the communicative conventions that contribute to their interpretation (and, normally, also unaware of their own conversational conventions), have only the perception of a failed encounter, the causes of which are rarely identified. They explain what happened more often in psychological terms than in sociological or cultural terms, perceiving the other person as uncooperative, aggressive, stupid, incompetent or with unpleasant personal characteristics. Repeated unsuccessful intercultural encounters with different people over time lead to the formation of negative cultural stereotypes (Chick, 1990: 253 et seq).

Zorzi reports this excerpt of real dialogue taken from Blommaert: A is the Belgian, B is the African. They are in Brussels on a winter afternoon.)

A: Do you want a coffee?

B: No, thanks, I’m not hungry.

A: Do you want a COFFEE?

B: No, thanks. (short pause) I’m not hungry. (long pause)

A: Would you like to go for a drink? B: Sure, with pleasure, it’s really cold. A: Maybe a coffee?

B: Well, gladly.

As Zorzi points out, there are strong cultural and strategic implications at the base of this excerpt of communication difficulties: B reacts to the initial question as if he had been offered food, as in his culture (Haya, in northern Tanzania) guests are offered coffee beans to chew as a symbol of friendship, hospitality and wealth. Consequently, B’s categorization of coffee as “food” is entirely consistent.

The categorization of the Belgian, on the other hand, is “hot drink”. The first two bars of the dialogue highlight the difference between the two conceptions, which leads to a pragmalinguistic misunderstanding … Three phases can be identified in this exchange: a first of “observation” of what is happening, in which the participants become aware of the failure of communication: their contributions are perfectly consistent with their cultural assumptions, but do not work in that situation ; a second phase follows, the ‘search for a common ground‘ in which A avoids the problematic element (coffee).

Both then agree on ‘have a drink’. At this point the ‘dialogue’ phase begins: the idea of ​​going for something hot is explicitly appreciated and a common basis has been created to accept the idea of ​​coffee as a drink. This example shows how intercultural competence consists in achieving mutual adaptation (and not just the adaptation of the learner to the linguistic and cultural models of the host country). The primary objective of intercultural pedagogy – consequently – is to find teaching strategies so that subjects of different cultural origins can learn to communicate with each other regardless of differences in language, cultural behavior and beliefs.

The focus therefore shifts from the work that the single learner does to the way in which two people from different cultures manage to negotiate meanings and relationships through a linguistic medium in which they have very unbalanced skills. There is therefore a linguistic common ground that allows negotiators to get out of the impasse of the lack of a shared vocabulary. Trying to share the meaning of the terms, to get out of “semantic indeterminacy”, “semantic confusion”, “connotative shadows” is one of the main tools of the intercultural negotiator.

interc

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

For further information see:

© 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 

Negotiating Requires the Ability to Seduce.

A seduction not at all sexual, but in fact comparable to courtship: the proposal must contain “appeal“, must respond to the impulses and needs of the interlocutor. A forced proposal is not negotiation in the strict sense but imposition. A poorly digested condition, moreover, lends itself much more to being refused a posteriori, disregarded, or not applied.

For thousands of years, theorists of each discipline have encouraged people to adapt their art to the different situations in which they will have to operate, recognizing the need to calibrate the strategy towards the interlocutor, creating a communication centered on the recipients. Aristotle, in Rhetoric, deals with public seduction and persuasion. He invites the politician to dynamically use ethos (credibility), logos (dialectical art) and pathos (ability to arouse emotions), centering the audience in being more intimate than him.

There is a seduction component in every negotiation In the Kamasutra of Vatsyayana – a classic Indian treatise on seduction – a sequence of different types of bite is listed, designed to cause pleasure: the hidden bite, the swollen bite, the point, the line of points, the coral and the jewel, the of jewels, the unbroken cloud, and finally the bite of the wild boar. The good seducer will have to adapt the type of bite to the situation. Western managers often use the “boar bite” (whatever action it is) a priori, perhaps receiving sound slaps in response, where perhaps the “hidden bite” would have given the desired effects. We are using a joking metaphor to express a message that is nevertheless strong: the communication strategy must take into account the cultural traits of the counterpart.

Let’s see an example of a micro-conversation between the Italian area manager and a possible Russian importer:

Area Manager: What guarantees can you give us?

Importer: What guarantees do you need?

Area Manager: Well, you need to learn how to sell our products, however don’t worry because we will give you courses, if you can’t pay them we discount them from commissions.

The Russian interlocutor perceives a latent message (“you are incapable”, “you are poor”, “you need”) linked to the course offer. The sentence touches the interlocutor’s entire cultic system, stirs a wounded “Russian pride” and the memories of suffering of an entire people. The Italian area manager has been able to destroy the corporate ethos in a few moves (giving the image of a company completely unprepared to negotiate with foreign interlocutors), using a dialectic based on “a priori” conflict (humiliate them), thus arousing emotions of revenge and revenge (at a minimum) in the interlocutor. A strategy of total ineffectiveness, based on wrong assumptions.

The offer of a course, presented in this way, does not create added value and aims solely at the disqualification of the interlocutor. Both Aristotle and Vatsyayana would have rejected this area manager. In this micro-negotiation there have been several “judgment biases” or errors of judgment, and neither of them have achieved any results. As research on the accuracy of intercultural assessments shows, the error of judgment (misunderstanding who you are dealing with, or badly decoding a message) – an error already present at an intra-cultural level – is enhanced by cultural distances, and it is one of the most destructive factors in negotiation.

To overcome the judgment biases it is necessary to take action, to prepare. Intercultural communication requires commitment, at the level of:

  • understanding of the cultural system with which one interacts;
  • knowledge of the underlying values ​​and beliefs of the interlocutor;
  • social identification: what status does the interlocutor have in his membership system;
  • methods of non-verbal communication;
  • analysis and resolution of conflicts. Every intercultural negotiator should have strong expertise on these matters in their curriculum.

Principle 9 – Training in intercultural communication

The success of negotiation communication depends on:

  • from the depth of communication training;
  • the ability to put into practice communicative skills of trans-cultural value;
  • the ability to identify communicative characteristics and specific cultural traits of the interlocutor to pay attention to.

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

For further information see: