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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 

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

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Being Italian in Japan is not always easy. There are many things so totally different from our own world, that we usually need time to adapt to everything, but when it is time to negotiate, time may not be enough. For this reason, knowing how Japan sees us is very useful. 

Let’s start with the image Japanese have of Italy. As you all well know, Italy is famous for mainly 3 things: 

  1. Food 
  2. Art (music included) 
  3. Fashion 

In Japan, if you ask someone on the street about Italy, the first thing he/she will talk to you about is probably food, like Pizza and Pasta. They are also interested in music, Opera Music in particular, and fashion. Some of them come to Italy to study cooking, design or opera singing and then they come back to Japan to open, for example, Italian restaurants, that are very popular all over the country. 

Another important issue that I would like to mention concerns the way in which this image was built and who helped these ideas of Italy grow in the minds of all Japanese.  

The person responsible for this is Girolamo Panzetta, a 50-year-old Italian, who decided to take advantage of the Italian stereotype in Japan to make lots of money. He is now a star in Japan, thanks to his lessons of elegance and manliness.  

We have to thankhim if Japanese see us, on one hand as carefree womanizers, and on the other hand as original and cheerful people. 

So, we can summarize Italians’ pros and cons from a Japanese perspective, as follows: 

  • happy-go-lucky 
  • friendly 
  • cheerful 
  • fashionable 
  • original 
  • disorganized 
  • unreliable 
  • careless 
  • sloppy 

Now that we have a general idea of what Japanese think of us, it is time to understand if all these adjectives can be a strength or a weakness during a negotiation. I don’t believe that being cheerful, original or fashionable can become a disadvantage in a negotiation, but maybe being considered unreliable, sloppy and careless can become a bother.  

The real strategy here is to convert a disadvantage in advantage. How? By working on first impressions. 

If we are aware that a Japanese can have some prejudices about us, because we are part of the Italian culture, then we must work very hard to demonstrate the opposite. For example, in order to destroy the image of a carefree and disorganized Italian, we can take part of all their meetings with a perfectly prepared documentation, focused and always on the ball. 

While overcoming these unfavourable stereotypes, we must strengthen the favourable ones. We must be kind, friendly, finding the most original solution to their problems, never stop smiling warmly. 

Japanese love Italy, but depending only on this love and admiration won’t work. To achieve success in an intercultural negotiation, where stereotypes and prejudices are what define us before, and sometimes also after, the first meeting, we need to be prepared. 

Being prepared means understanding that we are different, while trying to reduce the gap between our own culture and the culture of our interlocutor. In order to do so, it is necessary to highlight our positive attributes and break all negative images they could have about us. 

At the same time, it is fundamental to remember to learn more about the other culture, so as to destroy and rebuild our opinion of it. We cannot possibly think to create a cooperative dialogue if we do not start that same dialogue with an open mind. 

Cultural respect and cultural diversity awareness will always be the basis of an healthy and everlasting business relationship. 

Girolamo Panzetta

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 

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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 next lines we are going to observe how complex the dialogue between companies may be and how it is possible to avoid conflicts and to reach success during a negotiation by paying attention to our own conversational moves and to those used by the interlocutor.

The dialogue between companies is full of communication difficulties that arise daily. We can look at them from a concrete perspective by observing the following case of micro-dialogue between C – a consultant – and I – an entrepreneur – who are at I’s company one morning at the request of I:

C1: So, you were telling me that you would like to train your sales network team?

I1: Yes, I would like to do some training.

C2: Which problems would you like to solve? What are the main issues, that sellers are facing now?

I2: Well, you know, they are well trained people … with experience … highly qualified people…

C3: Um, well, have you already decided on the time frame in which you would like to do the training?

I3: Well, I think it could be done in a couple of days, right? Or we can use some afternoons. How many hours do you think it would take?

C4: Well, perhaps we should try to understand first what kind of approach we should use for this training. Are you more interested in a customized training on human resources, made only for you, or do you prefer having your sales team participate in a general course, in which your employees are mixed with other participants?

I4: Well, what’s the difference?

C5: Well, the customized training is certainly different.

I5: How many sales courses have you given to companies in our sector?

C6: Look, we’ve done lots of courses, but I don’t think it matters in which sector, because a sales training is a communication training and the topics that we are going to cover are related to communication psychology. Focusing on the type of product that is being sold isn’t really that significant.

I6: But, you know, I don’t want a very theoretical course. I need something applied to my field, do you have a list of your references?

Each passage of this conversation can be analysed as a set of conversational moves. Each move brings an enormous amount of meanings and signification systems.

In this conversation, C focuses on analysing the client’s needs, while I implements a conversational misdirection that shifts the focus to C’s curriculum, and distracts him from I’s training needs. C therefore tries to bring the dialogue back to the approach that must be given to the course, while I – in move I6 – continues in its manoeuvres to shift the conversation from the training needs of its sales network team to the analysis of the consultant’s CV.

Going on with the dialogue, the underlying cultural divergences will emerge with greater force, until reaching one of the possible conclusions: an open conflict of cultures, a stalemate, or an agreement.

However, without “dismantling” the communication (in this case by recognizing the cultural and strategic value of each move) the outcome will be a probable failure.

Intercultural negotiation therefore requires great attention to conversational moves, rather than to great negotiation strategies that can fail if badly applied. The negotiation between companies can be considered the real theatre of communication, which is the negotiation conversation.

Once again, we want to highlight how the negotiation success, or rather the probability of success, can only be increased by an adequate preparation on intercultural communication, which includes both the analysis of the mechanisms of effective communication, and its cross-cultural adaptation.

Every rule must be adapted to the context in which it is applied (space, time, place, situation, etc.) and from which it arose. Cultural changes today are so rapid that the new real skill do not come from last-minute behavioural rules, but from a wider competence of the whole communication process and from the ability to adapt our own resources case by case.

"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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Let’s continue with the conversation analysis. In this article we will focus on various aspects of intercultural conversation and its management, because a good negotiator must always have the situation in check, without leaving even the smallest conversational detail to chance.

Rules of Courtesy and Respect for Roles

Intercultural communication, both on a diplomatic and on a business level, requires us to pay a particular attention to rules of courtesy, to the respect for roles and to the recognition of others’ identities.

On an interpersonal perspective, western urban cultures tend to “reduce distances” and to treat people as equals. From an anthropological point of view, these cultures are defined as low-context cultures. Many business and diplomatic cultures, however, are generally high-context cultures; respecting distances and roles, while mantaining boundaries until the other party offers permission to move to a more friendly and less formal level, is very important.

Moreover, in high-context cultures more space is given to allusion, rather than to direct affirmations, as occurs in low-context cultures, which are more informal. In addition to that, high-context cultures use more parables, proverbs, understatements and antiphrases (negative statements), while low-context cultures prefer to create direct relationships, using high tones, overstatements, positive and explicit expressions.

Some general rules of intercultural negotiation are therefore dictated by common sense, while others must be acquired by people who are informed about the local culture. The basic rules of courtesy are:

  • asking informed individuals how people want to be called
  • asking people directly how they want to be called (in the absence of informants);
  • avoiding nicknames or avoiding using first names without the direct permission of the subject;
  • using titles such as “Mr.” or “Miss.”, or other courtesy titles, especially with older interlocutors;
  • respecting roles (eg: President, Director, etc.) even with younger people who hold institutional roles;
  • avoiding interrupting.
Rules of Deference and Demeanor

The rules of deference and demeanor are expressed both verbally and through non-verbal communication – for example by bowing a bit while shaking hands – generally avoiding excessive manifestations. In any case, it is essencial to rember to inquire about which behaviors are normal and which are rather offensive in the other culture.

Taking cultural precepts for granted, without knowing how to understand the situation, can easily produce mistakes and misunderstandings. The rules of courtesy are therefore to be evaluated with extreme attention to the context.

The axes that connect two subjects engaged in conversation are called conversation lines.

  • To interrupt two people talking means breaking their imaginary line of conversation.
  • To let another person take the turn means establishing a line of conversation between yourself and that other person.
  • To give two people something to compare means establishing a line of conversation between those two subjects.

The lines of conversation can be both evident (through the verbal system) and subtly disguised (through the non-verbal system, like signals, gestures and nods).

Turn-taking Management

Speaking turns management mechanisms are extremely complex, although practiced by everyone every day.

The information flow that comes from the interlocutors is extremely valuable, and requires everyone to abandon a “strategy that floods information“, typical of aggressive sales, moving towards a listening strategy.

The turn-taking management training develops the negotiator’s skills in:

  • recognizing turn-taking management mechanisms;
  • knowing how to enter the conversation while respecting rules;
  • identifying moments and strategies, that can help you enter and leave the conversation;
  • creating adequate repair moves, while facing moves that can be perceived as offensive;
  • applying a conversational leadership, that consists in taking your turn consciously by becoming a “turn-taking” manager.
Content Management

The turn-taking concept mainly concerns the “person who’s talking”, while the content management mainly regards “the topic of conversation”.

First of all, we have to distinguish the skills of topic setting (fixing conversational topics), from those of topic shifting. Both strategies are part of what we call “content management conversation skills“.

Topic shifting and content management skills include:

  • the ability to recognize “what we are talking about”: details, visions, aspirations, requests, offers, datas, emotions.
  • the ability to create different phases in the conversation, for example by knowing how to produce an adequate small talk, or how to warm up the conversational atmosphere; or by knowing how to distinguish between the opening phase, used for gathering information, and the closing phase, when a conclusion is reached;
  • the ability to move the negotiation along desired or predetermined axes of content, following an agenda or a mental scheme;
  • the ability to change the conversational contents, based on what emerges during the interaction (contextual changes, situational adaptations, etc.).

Conversation re-focusing is a “hard” variant of content management and topic-shifting techniques. Re-centering consists of bringing the conversation back to a topic that the counterpart is not considering, or wants to avoid, or simply cannot grasp.

The act of re-focusing can be preceded and followed by appropriate repair moves (repair, apology, anticipation, etc.). In extreme cases, the act of re-centering can also take place without resorting to moves of repair, thus generating a pre-conflict situation that forces the counterpart to choose whether to accept a role of conversational submission or not, shifting to an open conflict.

"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:

Articolo a cura della dott.ssa Ginevra Bighini, www.negoziazioneinterculturale.wordpress.com; mentoring a cura del dott. Daniele Trevisani, www.studiotrevisani.it

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Oggi ci addentreremo in uno degli argomenti più dibattuti legati alla comunicazione interculturale, ossia la traduzione.

Fino a qualche decennio fa, tradurre significava trasferire un testo da un’altra lingua alla propria e viceversa.

Ma, se doveste tradurre una frase del tipo “tanto va la gatta al lardo, che ci lascia lo zampino” in inglese, come fareste? Tradurreste parola per parola a discapito del significato, oppure cerchereste di trasmettere il concetto chiave, lasciando da parte la traduzione letterale? E cosa ne rimane del proverbio? Riuscireste a farlo trapelare anche in un’altra lingua?

La traduzione, così come la comunicazione, ha come compito quello di far comprendere all’altro, inteso come rappresentante di una cultura differente, ciò che non possiamo esprimere con la nostra lingua. Nel caso della comunicazione in senso generale, la nostra lingua è rappresentata dal nostro mondo interiore (emozioni, pensieri, stati mentali, ecc…), che va portato all’esterno con l’uso del linguaggio verbale e non verbale.

Come sappiamo, qualsiasi lingua non è abbastanza ricca per poter esprimere la complessità di ciò che ci accade dentro, così come una lingua legata ad una cultura diversa può non presentare parole in grado di esprimere gli stessi concetti.

Come ci muoviamo in questi casi?

La soluzione non è mai univoca, ma partiamo dalla comunicazione prima di passare alla traduzione.

Quando dobbiamo comunicare uno particolare stato d’animo alla persona che ci sta di fronte, lo facciamo cercando di attingere non soltanto al vocabolario comune, utilizzando parole come triste, arrabbiato, felice, addolorato, ecc…, ma anche attraverso analogie e similitudini astratte o referenziali, come per esempio: “Ti ricordi quella volta che sei caduto dalla bicicletta in pieno centro e tutti ti guardavano? Ecco, io mi sento così.”

In questo modo facciamo riferimento ad un’esperienza specifica vissuta dall’altro. L’altro a sua volta, attingendo dai propri ricordi legati a quella stessa esperienza, riuscirà a comprendere molto più da vicino le sensazioni che il comunicatore sta provando in quello stesso istante.

La traduzione deve funzionare allo stesso modo: abbiamo due lingue diverse, che rappresentano due culture diverse, ognuna portatrice di valori, credenze, immagini mentali, visioni del mondo divergenti. L’unico modo per permettere a due entità così lontane di comunicare è cercare di creare un ponte che unisca le diversità che le rappresentano. Per farlo è necessario prima di tutto aprirsi alla cultura dell’interlocutore, capirne i meccanismi intrinsechi e non soltanto le sue forme di espressione verbale.

Una volta fatto ciò, è possibile passare alla seconda fase, in cui cercheremo di trasporre il concetto. Ritorniamo al proverbio italiano citato all’inizio.

Molti dizionari indicano come questi corrisponda a quello inglese “curiosity killed the cat”. Il significato e l’uso nelle due lingue non si possono considerare però equivalenti: la frase italiana è un ammonimento e si rivolge a coloro che commettono azioni disoneste, i quali, prima o poi, lasceranno un traccia, verranno scoperti e puniti (1). Il modo di dire inglese, invece, è di uso molto comune e può essere tradotto con “La curiosità uccise il gatto”, cioè “chi cerca di farsi gli affari altrui potrebbe subire conseguenze indesiderate”.

Vi è un’altra traduzione del proverbio sopracitato, a mio parere più azzeccata, anche se non del tutto di significato identico: “the pitcher goes so often to the well that it leaves its handle“. Letteralmente si può tradurre con: “la caraffa va così spesso al pozzo che ci lascia il manico”, ma il suo messaggio è: “continuare ad effettuare un’azione, in genere disonesta, alla fine porta al fallimento, poiché per quante volte un truffatore, un imbroglione o un ladro riescano a cavarsela, alla fine verranno scoperti”.

Adottando, quindi, questa seconda traduzione, ci accorgiamo di come, nonostante non ci sia completa sovrapposizione di significato, il senso passi in modo più diretto, riuscendo al contempo a mantenere quell’ammonimento proverbiale.

Il segreto di un’accurata traduzione infatti, è, a mio parere, quello di trasmettere il concetto con successo, traslandolo, però, non solo letteralmente, ma anche culturalmente. Se si utilizza infatti il secondo proverbio inglese per far recepire quello italiano, otterremo una traduzione non letterale, ma culturale, senza allontanarci dal cuore del messaggio.

Molti traduttori non sarebbero probabilmente d’accordo con la mia idea. Esistono infatti ancora molte scuole di pensiero che prediligono la traduzione letterale per esaltare la cultura di provenienza: il che può essere un bene, se non fosse che la cultura di destino, spesso, non recepisca chiaramente il messaggio, scontrandosi così con l’idea stessa di traduzione.

La traduzione è nata per permettere a tutti di comprendersi, nonostante le ampie differenze linguistico-culturali che ci appartengono. Riuscire in questa impresa è molto difficile, ma non impossibile, e, anche se a volte qualche piccola sfumatura di significato si perde, la cosa importante è che il concetto fondamentale arrivi a destinazione e venga compreso e assimilato.

Questo significa concentrare tutti i propri sforzi sull’altro, inteso come fruitore del messaggio, cercando di sviluppare una mediazione efficace, capace di aprire le porte ad una comunicazione interculturale e non solo ad una mera traslazione di vocabolario.

Dire ad un inglese “the cat goes to the lard so often that it leaves its paw“, potrebbe non avere senso per lui/lei, mentre se utilizziamo un proverbio proprio della sua cultura, il messaggio verrà recepito immediatamente e con la stessa intensità.

Non dimentichiamoci che tradurre e comunicare sono due facce della stessa medaglia con un unico scopo: farsi capire.

(1) https://www.comitatolinguistico.com/modi-di-dire-italiani-e-inglesi-tanto-va-la-gatta-al-lardo/

Articolo a cura della dott.ssa Ginevra Bighini, www.negoziazioneinterculturale.wordpress.com; mentoring a cura del dott. Daniele Trevisani, www.studiotrevisani.it

Articolo estratto dal testo “Parliamoci Chiaro: il modello delle quattro distanze per una comunicazione efficace e costruttiva” copyright Gribaudo Editore e Daniele Trevisani, pubblicato con il permesso dell’autore.

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Concludiamo questo ciclo di 3 articoli sul raggiungimento della comunicazione efficace, cercando di riconoscere la propria cultura e le sue fonti, di capire come le idee si diffondano e di imparare a ricercare un common ground comunicativo.

Una vita sana richiede consapevolezza di quali credenze, valori o insegnamenti stiamo mettendo in pratica e ci chiede di riconoscere il fatto che essi siano stati acquisiti dall’acculturazione e dall’ambiente circostante: sono “entrati”, e noi ne siamo impregnati. Gli esseri umani sono pieni di memi, di tracce mentali, idee, credenze, apprese dagli altri esseri umani o da fonti mediate.

La memetica, come nuova disciplina nel panorama delle scienze sociali, si occupa di come le idee o memi si trasmettono da persona a persona, da gruppo a gruppo, proprio come la genetica si occupa della trasmissione dei geni e dei patrimoni ereditari. 

Non appena due culture si incontrano, scopriamo che i nostri memi sono diversi da quelli altrui, ma in termini “riproduttivi” cerchiamo di replicare i nostri piuttosto che di accettare quelli degli altri.  Al centro della comunicazione, infatti, non c’è solo la questione di chi abbia ragione sui dettagli, ma addirittura il tentativo di far sopravvivere i propri memi, di riprodurre la propria visione delle cose, a volte di imporla. Questo comportamento è normale e risponde ai principi di conservazione della specie. 

Esiste quindi una prima forte consapevolezza che rende il comunicatore più efficace: la consapevolezza della propria cultura, dei propri memi attivi.  

Questa consapevolezza non significa rifiuto e non deve produrre automaticamente rifiuto di quanto appreso culturalmente, ma solo e semplicemente consapevolezza di quanto appreso, delle fonti, e della storia dei propri apprendimenti.  

Dopo avere svolto l’analisi del “cosa ho appreso”, quando e da chi, è necessario prendere queste tracce memetiche e sottoporle ad un vaglio fondamentale: cosa voglio tenere e consolidare da un lato, e di cosa mi fa bene liberarmi e perché, dall’altro.

Lo stesso tipo di analisi si può applicare agli apprendimenti organizzativi e alle regole vigenti in un’organizzazione, ai memi che vi circolano, in modo palese, o in modo più nascosto. 

Il successo della comunicazione dipende quindi dalla consapevolezza: 

  • delle fonti personali; 
  • delle fonti mediate; 
  • dei tempi dell’assimilazione, delle sue fasi significative e delle pietre miliari; 
  • della profondità di assimilazione nel Self di regole culturali, leggi e insegnamenti che si adottano; 
  • dalla capacità di riconoscere i fattori e le persone da cui si sono assimilate specifiche abilità, atteggiamenti e comportamenti oggi praticati sul lavoro e a livello professionale. 

Si può accettare di tenere con sè una regola culturale, o si può decidere consapevolmente di tentare di eliminarla dal proprio modo di essere, ma solo dopo avere preso coscienza della sua esistenza (autodeterminazione culturale). 

Nel metodo ALM, l’individuo, nella comunicazione, deve saper eliminare le tossine culturali che impediscono il buon funzionamento del Self, e sapersi aprire all’immissione di nuovi elementi, nuove energie, nuovi apprendimenti: aria pura per la mente

Il comunicatore è vivo quando è aperto al proprio cambiamento e allo scambio con l’ambiente. È morto e produce esiti nefasti quando rifiuta di accettare che le diversità esistono e devono essere capite e analizzate, ed è altrettanto morto quando non possiede una propria identità, quando accetta incondizionatamente la memetica altrui e rifiuta il proprio patrimonio. 

Dobbiamo essere consapevoli che le parole hanno un potere, il potere di aggregare interi “mondi di significato” e trasmettere valori attraverso le persone e attraverso il tempo. 

Come in molte delle attività umane, un buon esito richiede la capacità di trovare un equilibrio tra:

  1. tendenza all’accettazione incondizionata della cultura altrui (ipocrisia culturale)
  2. tendenza all’imposizione incondizionata della propria cultura verso l’altro (imperialismo culturale). 

Gli stati di coscienza alimentano le identità culturali: per esempio arrivare a tavola tardi e andarsene prima non è culturalmente corretto nella cultura italiana standard, ma è normale nella cultura americana. Si tratta di memi diversi che circolano, presenti in ogni comunicazione.

Il problema delle culture è che le loro norme non scritte entrano senza bussare, per osmosi, e diventano tangibili solo quando avviene un contatto con una cultura diversa. 

Anche le aziende hanno culture tra loro diverse, così come le aree aziendali. A causa della grande varietà di input a cui si è esposti, non esiste una creatura che ragioni con gli stessi identici schemi mentali di un’altra. In questo contesto, le persone si trovano a negoziare e a comunicare.

Due soggetti che possiedono visioni identiche e obiettivi identici, però, non hanno bisogno di entrare in una vera comunicazione e non potranno costruire nulla di originale. Quando invece emergono diverse visioni, concezioni ed esigenze, la comunicazione entra in campo, così come la possibilità di costruire creativamente attingendo da più bagagli diversi. 

Negoziare significa impegnarsi attivamente nella ricerca di una soluzione che soddisfi due o più interlocutori che partono da posizioni culturalmente diverse, facendo emergere sia le differenze latenti, che le basi comuni su cui poggiare. 

Stiamo negoziando mentre trattiamo un prezzo o un acquisto, ma anche mentre discutiamo su quale film vedere, o cosa fare nel weekend o in vacanza partendo da gusti e preferenze diverse.  

 Il successo della comunicazione dipende infine: 

  • dal grado di impegno/volontà di ciascun soggetto nella ricerca attiva di una soluzione di reciproca soddisfazione; 
  • dalla capacità di riconoscere esattamente i fattori che rendono diversa la posizione di partenza o gli interessi delle parti; 
  • dall’utilizzo delle diversità passate allo stato cosciente come motore propulsivo e creativo; 
  • dalla ricerca e costruzione delle basi comuni (common ground).
libro "Parliamoci Chiaro" di Daniele Trevisani

Per approfondimenti vedi:

Articolo estratto dal testo “Parliamoci Chiaro: il modello delle quattro distanze per una comunicazione efficace e costruttiva” copyright Gribaudo Editore e Daniele Trevisani, pubblicato con il permesso dell’autore.

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Nell’articolo a seguire tratteremo diversi argomenti: in primis si parlerà della formazione alla comunicazione efficace, successivamente si tratterà l’irrigidimento cognitivo, come riconoscerlo e superarlo, ed infine si approfondirà il tema della cultura come stato di coscienza.

Un progetto o corso/percorso sulla comunicazione efficace e sullo sviluppo personale può e deve insegnare alle persone a scoprire ciò che non sanno, le cosiddette “incompetenze inconsapevoli”.

I grandi capitoli formativi per apprendere a ridurre l’incomunicabilità sono:

  • la nostra identità e le identità multiple, il nostro ruolo e i ruoli multipli e il modo in cui influenzano la nostra comunicazione.
  • codici comunicativi e gli stili comunicativi, sul piano sia verbale che paralinguistico e non verbale, sino alla comunicazione polisensoriale e multicanale. Imparare a comunicare anche con codici comunicativi diversi dai nostri abituali è fondamentale, poiché la comunicazione è una competenza, e va allenata portando le persone fuori dalla zona di comfort, a sperimentarsi su nuove modalità comunicative. 
  • comprendere come si manifestano i nostri valori, le convinzioni, le credenze più profonde e gli atteggiamenti centrali e periferici e come trasmetterli nel modo più efficace. Imparare a cercare la base comune (common ground). 
  • comprendere come il nostro vissuto relazionale, esperienziale ed emotivo può essere elaborato e analizzato per scoprire lezioni di vita e auto-casi.
  • Cercare momenti di vita vissuta comuni, common ground sul piano delle emozioni vissute o altri tipi di common ground esperienziale. 
  • imparare l’ascolto, l’empatia e le tecniche di ascolto attivo. 

Tutto ciò deve essere fatto tramite la formazione attiva ed esperienziale che ci porti verso il nostro obiettivo e risultato. La formazione in comunicazione è un’arte espressiva, deve dare voce alla comunicazione degli aspetti emotivi così come a quelli informativi, perché la realtà è composta da entrambi. 

Lo sviluppo della capacità comunicativa parte sempre dal rendersi conto che non sappiamo fare qualcosa (1), per poi prenderne atto (2), lavorarci sopra anche se l’esecuzione è ancora incerta (3), proseguire fino a che l’esecuzione diventa fluida (4).

Questa operazione di crescita personale continua può farci arrivare anche allo stato di flusso (flow), lo stato di grazia e di piacere che può accompagnare una performance, anche difficile, quando sentiamo che il nostro corpo e la nostra mente stanno rispondendo perfettamente e riusciamo ad entrare in risonanza con l’azione.

Uno dei punti importanti che un corso di comunicazione e sviluppo personale affronta, quando ben condotto, è il fatto di affrontare l’incomunicabilità.  Questo ci aiuta a cambiare la modalità che usiamo nel rapportarci agli altri, uscendo dalla nostra corazza pesante di stereotipi e aprendo nuovi canali di comunicazione, aiutandoci anche ad affrontare situazioni comunicative in cui si insinuano rabbia, litigi, incomprensioni. 

Gli errori o i fallimenti diventano momenti di apprendimento.

Il progresso nelle competenze porta con sé una forza espansiva, aumenta la nostra zona di comfort, fa entrare questioni prima per noi impossibili entro la nostra area di sfida, amplia la nostra visione di ciò che è possibile.

Un corso di comunicazione e sviluppo personale può incidere su: 

  1. le nostre credenze potenzianti e limitanti; 
  2. le nostre convinzioni più radicate su come sia bene agire; 
  3. le nostre abitudini
  4. la nostra identità e come la esprimiamo al di fuori dei nostri contatti comunicativi; 
  5. i nostri valori profondi, inserendovi il valore di una comunicazione di qualità come nuovo riferimento per una vasta gamma di situazioni di vita. 

Possiamo anche affrontare: 

  1. distorsioni comunicative
  2. ambiguità
  3. finzioni, anche attraverso l’osservazione dei segnali deboli che le persone emettono; 
  4. metafore e figure logiche, cioè gli strumenti che danno forza ed enfasi al messaggio, lo rendono più bello, meglio strutturato, più potente ed efficace. 

Quando una persona migliora la propria comunicazione, questo miglioramento si estende ad ogni ambito e territorio della vita, in famiglia e nel lavoro. È bene sviluppare le abilità, coltivare i talenti, dare spazio al potenziale personale di ciascuno, in qualsiasi direzione esso si possa esprimere.

Il problema dell’incomunicabilità ha origini sociali. Nel pieno dello sviluppo della propria espressività, il bambino e l’adolescente imparano che ad essere sinceri nascono problemi, e che dedicare tempo agli altri è una perdita di tempo, o almeno così viene loro fatto credere. Mentre i sistemi educativi formali sostengono l’importanza dell’espressività e della comunicazione, i comportamenti educativi reali insegnano invece esattamente il contrario.

Anche le aziende insegnano questo: la regola basilare del “non fidarsi” è tramandata dall’esperienza degli “anziani” d’azienda ai giovani, creando una condizione di allerta permanente, un clima di sospetto che permea ogni avvio di relazione e ogni comunicazione. 

Tuttavia, tale condizione di “allerta” deve diventare una scelta tattica consapevole da applicare in alcuni momenti, non sempre, e non uno stato costante fissato a priori, una “ingessatura inamovibile” o un blocco cognitivo che impedisce un percorso di crescita. 

Poco a poco, il blocco delle espressioni esterne diventa incapacità di riconoscere ciò che ci accade all’interno e all’esterno. La realtà dei fatti è piena di persone che non riescono a spiegare il proprio bisogno (se si acquista) o il proprio valore (se si vende). 

In queste condizioni, il manager ingessato si trova a fare business, a negoziare, a dover comunicare, esprimersi, a volte persino a dover capire gli altri e ascoltare, e non ci riesce.  Esiste quindi un meta-obiettivo per ogni persona e gruppo: lo sblocco delle rigidità cognitive

È indispensabile lavorare per riconoscere i propri stereotipi e le proprie credenze, agire attivamente per capirli, identificare i propri stati di incomunicabilità, impegnarsi per eliminarla o ridurla, non attendere che la comunicazione migliori passivamente o “per miracolo”, ma impegnarsi in prima persona, come se fosse una priorità assoluta. 

La comunicazione può essere concepita come un contatto tra diversi stati di coscienza, un ponte tra universi mentali distanti.  Ogni cultura mette il soggetto nella condizione di prestare più attenzione a certi aspetti del mondo e di trascurarne o ignorarne altri. 

Secondo l’ipotesi Sapir-Whorf e gli studi di psicolinguistica, lo stesso linguaggio forma una struttura della realtà e plasma la realtà che vediamo. 

Ogni essere umano percepisce la realtà in modo diverso, per cui non esiste “una realtà” ma più realtà, a seconda degli schemi mentali utilizzati per la percezione (multiple reality theory). Un fenomeno esterno (presunta realtà oggettiva) non produce automaticamente la stessa esperienza soggettiva del fenomeno (realtà percettiva). 

Questo per alcuni è inaccettabile: il rifiuto di tale concetto produce rigidità umana e manageriale. L’incomunicabilità nasce persino all’interno dell’individuo stesso, che si trova dissociato tra il proprio Sé cosciente e il proprio inconscio.  

L’individuo che non comunica con sé stesso ha difficoltà a riconoscere i propri stati emotivi, non capisce alcuni dei suoi comportamenti o non sa darsene una spiegazione, vorrebbe essere in un modo e si trova nella condizione opposta. 

Allo stesso tempo, l’individuo che “non si conosce” agisce senza consapevolezza di quali norme, principi, precetti, canoni, direzioni, usanze, linee guida o teorie implicite stia utilizzando. 

In conclusione, il successo della comunicazione dipende: 

  • dalla capacità di mettere in contatto tra di loro le componenti intraindividuali e sbloccare la comunicazione tra le diverse componenti del soggetto stesso; 
  • dal grado di consapevolezza acquisita dal soggetto stesso rispetto alla propria cultura, in termini di valori, credenze, schemi, atteggiamenti e altri tratti culturali acquisiti; 
  • dalla capacità di rimuovere il “rumore di fondo” intrapsichico e attuare una forte presenza mentale durante gli incontri e scambi comunicativi. 
libro "Parliamoci Chiaro" di Daniele Trevisani

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