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

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In this second part I would like to continue talking about non-verbal communication and its characteristics, this time focusing on training, sensory perception, personal look and colour, while explaining the importance of identifying assonances and dissonances between verbal and non-verbal language.

Training

Training on the use of paralinguistic elements means learning the strategic use of pauses and tones. It includes many repertoires of theatrical and actor techniques, such as the Stanislavskij method, probably the only one truly capable of transforming expressive behaviours.

Without adequate preparation the chances of being competitive on the negotiating level decrease. As the gap between our training level and the training level of the counterpart increases, the risk of an unfavourable outcome during a negotiation grows.

Sensory Perceptions

Some clichés spreading in multicultural college campuses are that whites “taste like chicken”, Asians “smell of garlic”, blacks “taste of sweat”, etc.

The olfactory differences on an ethnic and genetic level do exist, but the perceived smell is largely determined by cultural factors such as nutrition, cleanliness or the use of perfumes.

Personal olfactory emissions are a communication tool.

It is certain that the sense of smell affects perception, and that food produces essences that exude from the skin and breath. If we want to manage even the smallest details of intercultural negotiation and, more generally, of the human contact, we must take care of these aspects.

Anything that can be attributed to the subject or to the corporate environment affects perception and image. Some clothing chains have resorted to the targeted deodorization of shops to create a more relaxed and pleasant atmosphere (environmental olfactory marketing).

Smell is a remote sense of the human being, partially abandoned in favour of senses such as sight and hearing. Animal “noses” are able to pick up smells that signal sexual emotions or predispositions, while human noses seem to have lost this trait.

There are practical implications for conscious personal deodorization: avoid foods that can produce strong breath emissions, avoid excessive personal fragrances, be aware of personal odours (e.g. sweat) and consider the importance of olfactory environmental marketing.

Personal Look

We usually know nothing about people’s real history. We can only assume it by looking at the symbols they decide to show us. There are signs/symbols everywhere: on the interlocutor and in his/her communicative space. Symbolic communication concerns the meanings that people associate to and perceive from those particular “signs”. By communicative space we mean any area linked to the subject’s “system”, such as his/her car, or the background of his/her computer, and any other sign from which we derive information, meanings and interpretations.

From a semiotic point of view, every element from which a subject draws meaning becomes a “sign”, whether the bearer is aware of it or not.

Look, clothing and accessories are among the most incisive factors that build one’s personal image.

Differences or similarities in clothing, for example, can put a person inside a professional ingroup (“one like us”, an “equal”) or an outgroup (“one different from us”), depending of the meaning that the word “us” has for the interlocutor.

In a widened signification system, the symbols associated to the brands used, the type of car, and even the office furniture, can become very important.

chronemic behaviours (the string of actions over time) are also broadened signals related to how frequently we change clothes, punctuality, way of driving (calm or nervous), way of eating (slow and relaxed vs. fast and voracious), etc.

Even considering the time a person takes in answering a question can be significant: slow or overly thoughtful responses can be interpreted as insincere in Western cultures or wise in Eastern cultures.

It can be said that in the field of intercultural communication nothing escapes the observation of the interlocutor, and every “sign” contributes to its classification and evaluation.

Colours

An additional element of symbolic communication is colour. The use of colours and the symbolisms associated with colours also vary according to cultures.

It is not possible to list all possible associations for every colour in each country, but I would like to underline the importance of paying attention to the symbolisms associated with colours, because there are many problems that could arise when choosing colours and graphics, for example in packaging, in business gifts and in objects.

Even objects and symbols are not neutral: an Italian company, for example, used the symbol of an open hand to create the company logo and key rings, producing a wave of protests in Greece, where the open hand symbol is used to offend.

The basic principle to avoid macroscopic errors is the use of pre-tests: a “pilot test” on some member of the local culture, who are able to give a feedback on the appropriateness of colours, shapes and symbolisms within their cultural context.

The pre-test method also applies to the choice of gifts, presents, and any other symbolic action whose impact may vary on a cultural basis.

Consonances and Dissonances between Verbal and Non-Verbal Language

Non-verbal communication can reinforce the verbal message or be dissonant with it.

Listening carefully and nodding can express interest more than just a verbal statement. Saying “I’m interested” with words and expressing boredom or disgust with body actions produces a dissonant signal and creates suspicion or irritation.

The coherence (matching) between words and actions:

  • increases the subject’s perceived honesty;
  • denotes trustworthiness;
  • shows interest;
  • shows that we are in control of the situation;
  • produces a sense of security and solidity of content.

On the contrary, the incongruity:

  • creates a sense of mistrust;
  • generates a feeling of lack of authenticity;
  • produces doubts and suspicions, because the heard verbal content is considered false.

Each linguistic style (on an interpersonal level) is associated with a precise modulation of the non-verbal style. We can indeed have:

  • situations of communicative reinforcement (the non-verbal style reinforces the verbal style);
  • situations of dissonance or inconsistency between verbal and non-verbal communication: the non-verbal language is on a different register than the verbal one.

The dissonances concern every semiotic system, every sign that carries a meaning. A company that declares itself important and does not have a website, or has an amateur website, expresses an incongruent image of itself.

"Intercultural Negotiation" by Daniele Trevisani

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

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For further information see:

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

Cooperative Dialogue (Cooperative Interaction)

Being the leader of a family means being able to act as a “guide” of the family itself, and this is expressed in group and individual conversations with family members. Being the leader of a production department means assuming the role of reference point for all technicians, managing to manage conflicts, meetings, training and motivational processes.

Being the leader of a sales force means taking on the role of mentor and coordinator of resources and strategies, and applying the role in every communication with your collaborators. Regardless of which corporate or social reference group is, leadership must be considered a meta-role that transversally invests a subject within a group of individuals.

The assumption of the role is evident in the method of communication adopted, and its lack is equally evident. As Tonfoni points out, each role is charged with expectations and role behaviors: According to the Theory of Roles, a certain sequence of planned actions, called “role”, refers to the individual actors who occupy certain positions within one or more groups, within which there is a balance determined by the fact that at each “status “separate functions are assigned.

Based on the dynamics of the role, each individual must correspond to relative expectations; the role is therefore definable as a model of social behavior appropriate in relation to the expectations and the actual way in which an individual behaves in a certain situation. Failure to respect expectations and role behaviors is evident precisely in the inter-individual and group conversation in which the subject does not act as a “private individual” but as an “interpreter of the role of leader”.

Leadership therefore requires attention to the communicative listening dynamics in which they manifest themselves:

  • attacks on the role by team members;
  • improper role assumptions by team members or other subjects;

The correlated communicative behaviors are therefore:

  • reporting of the leader’s perception of the attack on the role;
  • clarification of the facts, making it clear that it is understood what is happening.
  • defense of the role;
  • negotiation of mutual roles. Leadership move detection exercise
  • Simulate starting a project to build a new product (banking, automobile, tourism, or others of your choice) that requires joint work between engineers, marketing experts and management control and finance experts.
  • Have all the participants start the dialogue in turn, with the requirement that those who open the negotiation try to be the leader.
  • Notice how during a conversation a participant taking an agreed role implements leadership. What to do to manage the power? Participants must decode the moves implemented by the assigned role, understand how the leader implements his leadership on the field.
  • In the debriefing phase (post-simulation analysis), provide feedback to the conversation leader on the effectiveness of the moves implemented.

Cooperative Dialogue (Cooperative Interaction)

The cooperative dialogue involves a strong concentration of positive moves, of openness, a use of SIM for analysis and sharing, and the elimination of attacks on the role and identity of others. The cooperative dialogue mainly consists of:

  • listening, avoiding interruption;
  • strategic shifts between the macro-purposes of the projects and the details, with a preference for macro-purposes and the search for a shared mission; consider the differences on the details as temporary, recoverable, and go in search of a common vision and what they have in common;
  • search for a win-win approach;
  • attitudes of openness and avoidance of the judgment of others (suspension of judgment until complete understanding).
Intercultural Negotiation Arab Edition

© 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 

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In the next two articles we are going to deal with non-verbal communication and its characteristics: in fact, the non-verbal language can deeply affect the result of an intercultural negotiation both positively and negatively, even though it is often a neglected aspect of communication.

The main channels through which the negotiator can send messages are the paralinguistic system (vocal aspects of communication, such as tones, accents, silences, interjections), the body language (body language), and personal accessories, including clothing and the general look.

To negotiate at an intercultural level, it is necessary to create a relationship. Body movements and attitudes can strongly express the interlocutor’s satisfaction, as well as his/her disgust and emotional suffering.

We perceive the interlocutor’s attitude through his/her behaviour, rather than through the linguistic content, which remains on the relationship surface. In depth, one’s relationship is determined by body and face movements, looks, facial expressions, and, generally, by the communicator’s complete non-verbal repertoire.

The intercultural negotiator, however, must always consider the fact that some non-verbal signals cane be perceived differently by another culture, sometimes even in an opposite way.

Wrong non-verbal and body attitudes can easily lead to an escalation (rise in tension, nervousness and irritation), while the task of an intercultural negotiator is to create a de-escalation: moderation of tones, relaxed atmosphere, favourable environment for negotiation.

The general objective of every intercultural negotiation is, in fact, achieving results, but, in order to do so, a climate of cooperation is needed.

The intercultural negotiator must therefore activate some conflict de-escalation procedures, practices that lead to a non-conflictual negotiation situation.

But what are these practices? In general, each culture uses different non-verbal rules, and therefore we would need for each nation or culture with which we deal.

The problem with these “easy manuals” is their poor resistance over time (cultures evolve) and in space (cultures change even within a few kilometres). Moreover, if you take them as rules, there is a real possibility to apply stereotypes, that are no longer valid.

When there is no specific indication that come from up-to-date experts of a particular culture, we can use some general rules of good communication, which can help us reduce errors, as exposed by the Public Policy Centre of the University of Nebraska:

  • use a calm, non-aggressive tone of voice;
  • smile, express acceptance;
  • use facial expression of interest;
  • use open gestures;
  • allow the person you are talking to dictate the spatial distances (spatial distances vary widely between cultures);
  • nod, give nods of agreement;
  • focus on people and not on documents;
  • bend your body forward as a sign of interest;
  • maintain a relaxed attitude;
  • hold an L-shaped position;
  • sit by your interlocutor’s side, not in front of him/her, because that is a confrontational position.

I would like to highlight that these general rules are only “possible options” and must be adapted to culture and context.

While talking about the non-verbal language it is impossible not to mention the body language. Our body speaks, expresses emotions and feelings.

The body language concerns:

  • facial expressions;
  • nods;
  • limbs movements and gestures;
  • body movements and social distance;
  • physical contact.

Cultural differences related to this area of communication can be deep. There are no golden rules teaching us what’s best: each choice is strategic and linked to the context (“contextual appropriateness“).

Physical contact, for example, is one of the most critical elements: while some Western standards of physical contact spread throughout the entire business community (e.g. shaking hands), every culture expresses a different degree of contact during greetings and interactions.

In general, if it is not possible to collect accurate information from experts of the local culture, it is advisable to limit physical contact in order not to generate a sense of invasiveness.

The study “of observations and theories concerning the use of human space, seen as a specific elaboration of culture” (Hall, 1988) is defined by proxemics.

On the negotiation front, the implications are numerous, since every culture has unwritten rules to define the boundaries of acceptability of interpersonal distances. In this case too, resorting to experts of the local culture is fundamental. If we do not have this possibility, then a valid rule is to let the other party define their own degree of distance, without forcing either an approach or a removal.

Human critical distances have an animal basis and a strong cultural variance: for example, Arab and Latin cultures are often “closer”, while Anglo-Saxon cultures are more “distant”.

Another element of non-verbal language, that we must consider, is the paralinguistic system. Paralinguistics concerns all vocal emissions that are not strictly related to “words”, and includes:

  • tone of the voice;
  • volume;
  • silences;
  • pauses;
  • rhythm of speech;
  • interjections (short vocal emissions, like “er”, “uhm”, etc.).

Paralinguistics establishes speech punctuation and helps convey emotional information.

To be continued…

"Intercultural Negotiation" by Daniele Trevisani

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

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For further information see:

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

Deciding Priorities (What to Talk About) and Formats (How to Talk)

Cognitive economics deals with the efficient use of mental resources. An intercultural meeting poses high problems in the use of resources, since they must be divided and “absorbed” both by the debate on the contents and by the communication difficulties generated by linguistic and cultural differences.

The problems of cognitive economics therefore become even more pressing than intra-cultural meetings. We can therefore indicate that the use of time and resources becomes a meta-competence of the intercultural negotiator. Among his gifts are therefore the prioritization skills, the ability to set priorities, to be able to answer the fundamental question: what is good to talk about? How to manage scarce and limited time?

Each meeting has a high cost. Let’s simply try to calculate the hourly cost of many executives who spend a morning, arriving by plane from different countries, the cost of rooms and materials, the cost of preparation. Each group that comes together to achieve a goal may or may not give itself a strategy to optimize the resources deployed during the meeting. Intercultural prioritization skills require the negotiator to actively undertake to define which priorities to treat, thus also acting on the format of the negotiation, as well as to set the basic terms to be treated.

Defining which priorities to treat also means making very concrete choices: what to talk about first, what to talk about next. How to talk about it, with what approach, with what attitude. Other priorities concern the establishment of a positive conversational climate: without the right climate, any discussion on the contents becomes more difficult. For this, for example, it is necessary to understand that there is a precise relationship between climates and communication styles.

Some communication styles are deleterious to the achievement of a result, are diseconomic, dysfunctional, and must be grasped (in others), and avoided (for themselves). The subject of communication economics therefore requires:

1. Ability to recognize the (limited) attentional resources available for negotiation (resource awareness);

2. ability to understand the boundaries of time available (awareness of the times);

3. ability to move within these boundaries, deciding the most appropriate contents and recognizing the dispersive ones (awareness of strategic contents);

4. ability to manage the phases and times of the meetings (awareness of the interaction sequences)

5. ability to act on communication styles appropriate to the different phases, and on the attitudes underlying the styles of relationships (contextual awareness of communication styles).

The main themes of the economics of negotiation communication are highlighted in the following principle.

Principle 15 – Economics of communication and centering of negotiation

The quality of the negotiation depends on:

  • The ability to center the contents of the conversation;
  • The ability to manage one’s attention resources (attentional recharge and management of personal energies) and grasp the states of others;
  • Awareness of the time limits for negotiation;
  • The ability to segment negotiation times, distinguishing the negotiation phases and their specific objectives, in particular by mentally and de facto separating the listening time (empathy) and the proactive time;
  • The ability to modulate one’s own communication styles, breaking the communicative rigidity, knowing how to adapt the styles to the different phases, e.g. friend in the warming up and small talk phases (introductory chat), psychoanalytic in the empathic phases, assertive in the propositional phases, and other styles appropriate to the context.
Intercultural Negotiation Arab Edition

© 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 

Linguistic Acts, Communicative Lines of Action and Conversational Leadership

Each “issue with meaning“, within a negotiation, constitutes a linguistic act. Linguistic acts are always inserted within lines of communicative action and help to establish the type of relationship in progress (conflictual, collaborative, and others). Collaborating, keeping low tones, or clashing, arguing, are lines of action in which specific linguistic acts (such as attacking, or collaborating) intervene. Other communicative acts also take on meaning, for example emissions using non-verbal (body movement, gestures, looks) and paralinguistic (tones, pauses, silences, intonations) systems.

Intercultural Education for a Broader Perception in Negotiation

Let’s look at the more general point first. Within the research on psycholinguistics, Linguistic Relativism has shown how each language segments the world and allows us to see particular aspects. What does it mean that a language “segments the world”? In essence, linguistic categories guide perception, focusing the human mind on specific layers of reality and taking the attention away from others.

Eskimos have over 10 specific words for as many types of snow, and this guides perception through preset categories. Where this linguistic distinction does not exist, snow becomes a unique mental object, leaving the composition of sentences with a description of different types of snow. But still, in the Navajo language there is no word equivalent to the concept “late” (the perception of time is always relative), just as in the Amazonian languages ​​there is no word “snow”; in Mandarin Chinese, a single word (qing) represents various shades of both blue and green.

Linguistic accuracy therefore also depends on the availability of specific categories and vocabularies. Thus, a first work emerges which consists in educating the interlocutor to perceive differences. If an Eskimo wants to be able to make the European understand the difference between the ten types of snow, he will have to associate the word (verbal label) used with some recognizable representation (a photograph, or practical demonstration).

At the same time, in order to be able to negotiate, it is necessary to make the other understand the diversity between his or her culture and our culture. Each of the intercultural negotiators must be available to learn, available to train thanks to the encounter with the other. Negotiation on new products or on projects never implemented before requires a phase of acculturation, which enables the counterparty to orient, understand, and consciously choose within differences that they could not perceive before.

Intercultural Negotiation Arab Edition

© 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 

The Effects of Globalization

Intercultural negotiation is an increasingly pervasive phenomenon due to globalization and the intensification of inter-ethnic, inter-religious, international, business, cultural or social relations. Remaining in the business field, the cases in which intercultural negotiation becomes more evident are:

  • 1. Selling abroad in neighboring cultures and distant cultures.
  • 2. Buying abroad or building supply management agreements, negotiating with foreign suppliers.
  • 3. Business agreements for the distribution of goods or services abroad
  • 4. Joint ventures (construction of companies managed by several partners of different nationalities) for production facilities abroad.
  • 5. Mergers between companies and acquisitions of companies in which the organizational cultures of origin are substantially different (as occurs in almost all cases, both at an intra-national level and at the level of international acquisitions and mergers).
  • 6. Manage the workforce in third countries.
  • 7. Manage the foreign workforce operating in your company.
  • 8. Do multinational training, training programs involving human resources operating in different countries.
  • 9. Intercultural training: cultural diversity between the trainer and the participants, or cultural diversity within the group of students.
  • 10. Coordinate international working groups.
  • 11. Diplomatic negotiation and international agreements.
  • 12. Peacekeeping, peacekeeping, conflict prevention and resolution.
  • 13. International contracts, cross-cultural legal negotiation.

On the mediated communications front, we see the urgency of an intercultural approach whenever problems arise in:

  • 14. Information communication campaigns in distant cultures.
  • 15. Advertising communication spread in different cultures and on international markets.
  • 16. Creation of persuasive and promotional messages on an international scale.
  • 17. Development of product concepts of international significance, destined to operate on global and different markets.
  • 18. Concept development of products aimed solely at a linguistic-cultural area, whose design takes place in a different starting culture.
  • 19. Build distribution and sales structures in different countries.
  • 20. Create personnel incentive and motivation systems appropriate to the local culture. On the social front, instead, we see an urgency of intercultural negotiation and communication skills when addressing the following issues:
  • 21. Scholastic integration of foreign children.
  • 22. Intercultural psychological therapy and intercultural counseling.
  • 23. Dynamics of ethnic adaptation.
  • 24. Interreligious dialogue.
  • 25. International development projects.
  • 26. Social communication campaigns (public health, disease prevention, nutrition education, drugs, and others) conducted in culturally diverse areas.

Over twenty areas of strong and urgent problematic characterize the field of intercultural communication. The vastness and severity of the underlying problems – in this incomplete list – highlights the urgency of a high level of attention to the dynamics of intercultural communication.

Intercultural Negotiation Arab Edition

© 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 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Intercultural Negotiation" by Daniele Trevisani

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

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For further information see:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some conversational moves are, for example:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and also between:

  • listening moves (empathy, questions, data collection), and
  • propositional moves (statements, positions, requests).
libro "Negoziazione Interculturale" di Daniele Trevisani

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

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For further information see:

© 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 

Clarify the Underlying Meaning of the Primary Negotiating Terms

Each word deeply rooted in social life – let’s say the word “educate” – carries with it an enormous variety of possible meanings: educate how to “shape”, how to “bring behavior back to the rules”, make the subject become “as I want it” , educate how to “regiment or educate how to” bring out personal potential “, and others. Even the phrase “business growth” carries with it a whole, enormous, spectrum of possible meanings.

For one entrepreneur it can mean “increasing turnover”, for another still “having a better organization”, for another “being a leader in your sector as the ability to put new products on the market”. Each word carries with it completely subjective mental evocations (mental images). In the case of the negotiation of a training course on communication to be held in China by Italian trainers, explained below, we can see that one of the first fundamental activities is first and foremost the clarification of what is meant by “communication” among the many meanings – example: advertising, or interpersonal communication, or organizational communication, and other possible nuances – and what a “trainer” is.

In culture A (Italy) compared to culture B (China), the underlying semantics of the terms hides enormous differences, which can lead to the failure of any project. In China there is no word equivalent to the term “communication” as it is understood in the West.

The exit from uncertainty and the comparison on semantics is one of the primary steps of each project that starts from different bases. The rule of thumb requires to “put on the negotiating table” the strongest and most meaningful words underlying the negotiation itself, and to clarify them with respect to their many possible meanings.

In the case of a leadership training project carried out in China by Italian trainers, we should clarify for example the meaning of the primary terms “training” and “leadership“. Nothing will be possible without this initial clarification. In the case of a production project in China or India of spare parts for a mechanical industry, in which the European manufacturer takes care of the design and final inspection, delegating the production in outsourcing, we should clarify the concepts of “expected quality “,” Verification “and” inspection “. Each negotiation brings with it the need to clarify the basic terms on which it is based and to compare the respective “semantics” (the possible meanings).

Intercultural Negotiation Arab Edition

© 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: