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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 the following article I would like to conclude the topic of negotiation communication training, by listing, in a more detailed way, the interpersonal communicative abilities, explaining the importance of culture shock and self-awareness acquisition.

  • Code Switching: the negotiator must manage the change of communication codes (linguistic code and non-verbal code), in order to adapt to the interlocutor. Making your interlocutor understand you requires an active effort of adaptation, a willingness to change your repertoire and to get closer to other people. Whoever imposes a one-way adaptation effort on the interlocutor (one-way adaptation) and does not think about others understanding him/her, automatically creates barriers to communication.
  • Topic Shifting: the change of subject. The negotiator must understand which techniques need to be adopted to slip from unproductive conversations, to get away from dangerous or useless topics, to avoid touching critical points of other cultures, creating offense, resentment or stiffening. These skills – like other abilities – are useful in every communicative context, such as in a communication between friends, colleagues, companies, as well as in diplomatic communication.
  • Turn Taking: conversational turns management. There are certain cultures that accept others to interfere in their speech, and others in which the respect for speaking turns is essential. Turn taking includes conversational turns management skills, turn taking abilities, turn defence skills, turn transfer abilities, the capability of open and close conversational lines, etc. All these techniques need to be refined for both intra- and inter-cultural communication.
  • Self-monitoring: the ability to self-analyse, to understand how we are communicating (which style we are using), to recognize internal emotional states, one’s own tiredness, or frustration, or joy, expectation or disgust, knowing how to recognize those inner emotions that animate us during conversation or negotiation.
  • Others-monitoring: the ability to analyse and decode the inner emotional states of our interlocutors, to recognize his/her state of fatigue, energy, euphoria, dejection, etc., to know how to perceive the participants mutual influences, to grasp the power relations in the counterpart groups and to understand the degree of interest in our proposals and the right moment for closing.
  • Empathy: the ability to understand others’ points of view, from within their value systems and cultural contexts and to understand the value of their communicative moves based on the culture that generates them.
  • Linguistic Competence: the ability to use language, choice of words and repertoires, showing a deep knowledge of the language.
  • Paralinguistic Competence: the ability to use and strategically manage the non-verbal elements of speech, such as tones, pauses, silences, etc.
  • Kinesic Competence: the ability to communicate through body movements (body language). Movements management can be one of the strongest traps in intercultural communication, where some cultures – such as the Italian one – normally use broad body movements and gesticulations, while others – such as oriental cultures- use a greater demeanour, while retaining their body expressions.
  • Proxemic Competence: the ability to communicate through space and personal distances management. For example, Latin and Arab cultures accept and consider closer interpersonal distances normal, while northern European cultures don’t.
  • Socio-environmental Decoding Competence: the ability to interpret and understand “what is happening here” in relation to what is taking place during the conversation or the interaction. The negotiator must know how to recognize a conflict within the members of the counterpart group (intra-group conflict) and how to grasp the different positions, the trajectories of approach and relaxation, the different roles assumed and the moves of the interlocutors.

Both intra-cultural and intercultural negotiators need to be prepared for Reality Shock (or culture shock). Reality Shock can arise from the sudden realization that:

  1. others don’t follow our rules;
  2. others have different background values;
  3. others don’t have the same goals as we do;
  4. others do not behave like us, or even like we want them to behave;
  5. some negotiators are in bad faith and dishonest: they do not seek a win-win approach, but only a personal advantage;
  6. even with the greatest amount of goodwill, some negotiations escape comprehensibility and observable behaviours do not fit into rational logic.

The difference between an experienced negotiator and an apprentice negotiator is the degree of damage that reality shock does: low or zero for the expert, devastating for the apprentice.

The clash with reality can cause a shock, which can be followed by:

  1. a positive process, reached thanks to the analysis of diversity, the acceptance of what can be accepted (without running into the extremes of radical unconditional acceptance), that leads the negotiator to improve his/her own cultural knowledge; or…
  2. a negative process, caused by a fall of the emotional state, a rejection of reality that leads the negotiator to take refuge in his/her own cultural arena. The result, in this case, is often a withdrawal.

In order to activate a positive process of growth, and not a negative process of involution, it is necessary to work on our self-awareness (“Knowing how to Be”) of negotiation, through:

  • Cognitive Learning & Knowledge Acquisition: learning the contents that characterize the culture with which we want to interact.
  • Cognitive Restructuring: transforming our perception of the communicative act itself from an anxiogenic element to a source of positive energy. This practice requires the identification of negative self-statements (e.g.: “it will definitely go wrong”, “I am unsuitable”, “I will not succeed”, etc.), that must be replaced by positive self-statements, (e.g.: “let’s see if we have the right conditions for doing business”,” let’s go and compare our mutual positions without fear”, or even” let’s help the customer understand how we think”). The analysis of self-statements therefore consists in working on how we “enter” the negotiation, on what animates us.
  •  Behavioural Learning & Communication Skills Acquisition: learning the skills necessary to “perform” or achieve a specific behavioural or communicative goal, by using dramaturgical and expressive techniques and relational dynamics.
  • Emotional Control Skills: developing some necessary emotions management skills, with which one can direct his/her own emotional energies in positive directions, recognize and remove negotiation stress, “recharge his/her batteries” and manage personal times, in order to take part in a negotiation in optimal psychophysical conditions.
"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:

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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 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 estratto dal testo “Negoziazione Interculturale. Comunicazione oltre le barriere culturali“, copyright FrancoAngeli Editore e Daniele Trevisani, pubblicato con il permesso dell’autore.

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Proseguendo con l’analisi della conversazione, in questo articolo ci soffermeremo su vari aspetti della conversazione interculturale e su come gestirla, poiché un buon negoziatore deve sempre mantenere il controllo della situazione, senza lasciare al caso neanche il più piccolo dettaglio conversazionale.

La comunicazione interculturale, sia sul piano diplomatico che di business, richiede una particolare attenzione alle regole di cortesia, al rispetto dei ruoli, al riconoscimento delle identità altrui.

Le culture occidentali urbane tendono a “ridurre le distanze” sul piano interpersonale, a “dare del tu”, a trattare le persone da eguali. Sotto il profilo antropologico, tali culture sono definite a basso contesto – low context cultures. In molte culture di business e diplomatiche, invece, così come in molte nazioni, o nelle culture generazionali precedenti, la cultura è generalmente ad alto contesto (high-context culture); è importante il rispetto delle distanze e dei ruoli, o il mantenimento di confini finché la controparte non offra il permesso di passare ad un livello più amicale, meno formale. Nelle culture ad alto contesto, inoltre, si dà più spazio all’allusione, piuttosto che alle affermazioni dirette come avviene nelle culture a basso contesto, più informali. Inoltre, le culture ad alto contesto utilizzano maggiormente parabole, proverbi, understatements (affermazioni di tono basso, poco “urlate” o “blatanti”) e antifrasi (affermazioni in negativo). Le culture a basso contesto invece privilegiano modalità di rapporto più dirette (dirsi le cose in faccia, essere espliciti), sono prevalentemente “loud” (toni alti, overstatement), privilegiano frasi positive.

Cortesia e rispetto sono parametri altamente dipendenti dalle regole culturali e dalle prassi locali, e generano regole a volte incomprensibili dall’interno della propria visione culturale.

Non è praticamente possibile fornire regole certe per ogni cultura con la quale si entra in contatto, anche perché le culture variano oggi molto più rapidamente grazie ai media globali, e non si può dare per scontato che un soggetto adotti esso stesso le regole del sistema del quale è parte.

Alcune regole generali della negoziazione interculturale pertanto sono dettate dal semplice buon senso, mentre altre devono essere acquisite da soggetti informati sulla cultura locale. Le regole minime di cortesia sono:

  • chiedere a soggetti informati come le persone desiderano essere chiamate
  • chiedere direttamente alle persone come desiderano essere chiamate, in mancanza di informatori;
  • non abbreviare il nome (non usare nomignoli) o usare il nome di battesimo senza il permesso diretto del soggetto;
  • usare titoli quali “Mr.” o “Miss.”, o altri titoli di cortesia, specialmente con interlocutori più anziani;
  • rispettare i ruoli (es: Presidente, Direttore) anche con persone più giovani che ricoprono ruoli istituzionali;
  • evitare di interrompere.

Le regole di deferenza e contegno si esprimono sia sul piano verbale, che con la comunicazione non verbale, ad esempio con un accenno di inchino nell’atto della stretta di mano, evitando generalmente manifestazioni smodate e pacchiane, ma soprattutto informandosi su quali comportamenti risultano normali o invece offensivi nelle culture altrui.

Prendere per scontati i precetti culturali senza saper capire la situazione rischia di produrre errori. Le regole di cortesia sono quindi da valutare con estrema attenzione al contesto.

Gli assi ideali che congiungono due soggetti impegnati nella conversazione vengono chiamate linee di conversazione.

  • Interrompere due persone che parlano significa rompere la loro immaginaria linea di conversazione.
  • Dare il turno ad una persona significa stabilire una linea di conversazione tra se stessi e un altro soggetto.
  • Invitare due persone a confrontare un punto significa stabilire una linea di conversazione tra i due soggetti.

Le linee di conversazione possono essere sia manifeste ed evidenti (tramite il sistema verbale) che sotterrane e sottilmente mascherate (tramite il sistema non verbale, segnali, gesti, cenni).

I meccanismi di gestione dei turni di parola sono estremamente complessi, sebbene praticati da ciascuno di noi ogni giorno.

Il flusso informativo che proviene dagli interlocutori è estremamente prezioso, e richiede l’abbandono di una “strategia di inondamento informativo” tipica della vendita aggressiva, verso una strategia dell’ascolto.

Il training alla gestione dei turni sviluppa le capacità del negoziatore nel:

  • riconoscere i meccanismi di gestione dei turni negoziali;
  • saper come entrare nella conversazione rispettando le regole;
  • identificare i momenti e strategie di ingresso e di uscita dalla conversazione;
  • creare le mosse di riparazione adeguate (repair) a fronte di mosse che possono essere percepite come offensive;
  • applicare una leadership conversazionale, consistente nel prendere le redini dei turni e divenire gestore di turni.

Mentre il problema dei turni riguarda soprattutto il “chi parla”, la gestione dei contenuti riguarda soprattutto il “di cosa si parla”.

Distinguiamo innanzitutto le capacità di topic setting (fissare gli argomenti conversazionali), da quelle di topic shifting (letteralmente, “slittare di argomento”, “spostare l’argomento”). Entrambe le strategie si inseriscono in una più generale abilità di “gestione dei contenuti” (content management) della conversazione.

Tra le competenze di topic-shifting e content management si collocano:

  • la capacità di riconoscere “di cosa stiamo parlando”: dettagli, visioni, aspirazioni, richieste, offerte, dati, emozioni.
  • la capacità di generare fasi diverse della conversazione, ad esempio saper produrre un adeguato small talk (chiacchiere su argomenti di interesse vario, convenevoli) per riscaldare il clima conversazionale, capire se e quando ricorrere allo small talk o quando entrare direttamente sul merito; saper distinguere le fasi di apertura e raccolta informativa dalle fasi di chiusura e concretizzazione;
  • la capacità di far procedere la negoziazione lungo assi di contenuto desiderati o prefissati, seguire un ordine del giorno o uno schema mentale;
  • la capacità di modificare i contenuti della conversazione direttamente sulla base di quanto emerge durante l’interazione (modifiche contestuali, adattamenti situazionali, on-the-fly).

Il ricentraggio della conversazione è una variante “dura” delle tecniche di content management e topic-shifting. Il ricentraggio consiste nel riportare la conversazione su punti che le controparti non stanno considerando, o dai quali vogliono sfuggire, o che semplicemente non riescono a cogliere.

Il ricentraggio può essere preceduto e seguito da adeguate mosse di repair (riparazione, scuse, anticipazione). Nei casi estremi il ricentraggio può anche avvenire senza far ricorso a repair, generando in questo modo una situazione pre-conflittuale che obbliga la controparte a scegliere se accettare un ruolo di sottomissione conversazionale o non accettarlo e porsi in conflitto aperto.

Libro "Negoziazione Interculturale" di Daniele Trevisani

Per approfondimenti vedi:

Leadership conversazionale: analisi della conversazione e delle comunicazioni nei team

Estratto con modifiche dell’autore dal testo di © Daniele Trevisani. Team leadership e comunicazione operativa. Principi e pratiche per il miglioramento continuo individuale e di team. Franco Angeli editore. Con commenti inediti dell’autore

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Tante teorie sulla leadership, poi, alla prima riunione, tutto torna come prima. Si gira attorno al problema, non si affronta, si accetta che l’agenda venga stravolta, si esce frustrati. Con la Conversation Analysis, tutto questo può essere evitato.

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Se analizziamo una conversazione tra persone, possiamo notare alcune caratteristiche della loro comunicazione, così come se analizziamo una riunione o un dialogo di gruppo.

Estendendo queste analisi alle comunicazioni dei team possiamo fare interessanti scoperte.

Innanzitutto la prima cosa che si può osservare è chi prende per primo il turno di parola. Chi inizia a parlare per primo si assume, si autoassegna, una leadership conversazionale, e diventa protagonista della gestione delle forme e dei contenuti.

Può accadere poi che un altro soggetto si appropri del turno, autoassumendosi sia la leadership che il ruolo di mediatore del gruppo. Per esempio, uno degli amici, rivolgendosi a ognuno degli altri, chiede: “Voi dove vorreste andare? A te, per esempio, dove piacerebbe andare?”.

Chiedere a tutti a turno “a te dove piacerebbe andare” è una precisa mossa conversazionale, che denota e precisa il ruolo di conduttore.

Altra caratteristica della leadership conversazionale riguarda la modalità della conversazione, la capacità del soggetto di toccare specifici problemi o passare ai metaproblemi.

I “problemi” trattano specificamente l’argomento della conversazione, nel­l’esempio della ricerca di una destinazione comune: il periodo, la meta, la durata ecc., quindi il “viaggio”.

I “metaproblemi” invece osservano il gruppo stesso, il loro funzionamento, lo analizzano dal­l’alto. Si trattano argomenti magari non direttamente collegati al tema della conversazione, per esempio i valori che fanno da collante al gruppo.

Nel­l’analisi della conversazione viene prestata attenzione primaria alle mosse conversazionali. Possiamo iniziare a sensibilizzarci al valore relazionale delle mosse, distinguendo le mosse di avvicinamento da quelle di allontanamento. La prima si ha quando un soggetto, attraverso il contenuto delle sue parole e soprattutto il tono, crea e rafforza un legame tra se stesso e gli altri soggetti. Al contrario una mossa di allontanamento crea o aumenta una distanza relazionale. Questo atto ha solitamente una connotazione negativa, ma nella gestione dei team vincenti sono necessarie entrambe.

Un’ulteriore capacità indispensabile è la comprensione delle linee di conversazione e della gestione dei turni (vedi a riguardo Goffman 1959). Quando due persone stanno parlando tra loro, sono unite da una linea immaginaria, che può essere verbale, paraverbale o visiva.

Se una terza persona cerca di immettersi nella conversazione, interrompendo tale connessione, si ha un ingresso o tentativo di ingresso, che può essere più o meno appropriato, più o meno aggressivo, più o meno opportuno. Un ingresso rappresenta esso stesso una mossa conversazionale.

Dal­l’attento ascolto di una conversazione emergono non solo le caratteristiche appena descritte, ma anche la personalità dei soggetti. Infatti, da ciò che uno dice e dal modo in cui si esprime si può dedurre se il soggetto è aperto o chiuso, introverso o estroverso, se ha un atteggiamento verso la vita positivo o negativo.

Questa considerazione introduce un altro importante concetto delle ricerche sulla leadership nel metodo HPM (Human Potential Modeling), i prototipi cognitivi, o “modelli dominanti di pensiero”. Essi sono una sommatoria di variabili psicologiche tra cui credenze, atteggiamenti e valori. Permettono di creare delle “etichette”, o punti di osservazione, attraverso i quali è più facile identificare le caratteristiche del soggetto. Un’“etichetta” molto usata è la “visione del mondo”, che trasuda dal modo di esprimersi e dal contenuto di ciò che il soggetto afferma.

Utilizzando i prototipi cognitivi è possibile avvicinarsi al mondo soggettivo, decodificare le mappe mentali del soggetto e stimolare l’empatia, che è la capacità di intuire che cosa si muove nel­l’universo mentale del­l’interlocutore, come si senta in una situazione e che cosa realmente provi al di là di quello che esprime verbalmente.

Le persone durante una conversazione possono attuare giochi di faccia, così definiti da Goffman, e cioè giochi sulla propria immagine o su quella di altri (Goffman 1969).

Per esempio, il leader della conversazione, rivolgendosi a uno dei presenti, chiede: “Tu, avventuroso come sei (detto in modo ironico), dove vorresti andare in vacanza?”.

In questo modo il leader attribuisce l’aggettivo ironicamente “avven­turoso” al­l’amico, lo etichetta e lo definisce in termini di immagine sociale in pratica come un codardo, e questo può rappresentare un grave attacco alla faccia sociale.

Tali giochi di faccia possono essere utilizzati anche per intervenire a favore o a sfavore di qualcuno o per proteggergli la “faccia”.

Guardando alla conversazione come a un gioco di stimoli e risposte, si possono identificare diverse modalità con cui il soggetto stimolato può rispondere agli input. Le ALC (Action Lines Conversazionali) definite dal metodo HPM sono scelte tattiche rispetto a una gamma di opzioni.

Si posso avere risposte di tipo:

  • accondiscendenza (dimostrarsi d’accordo);
  • negazione (dimostrarsi in disaccordo);
  • up-keying (drammatizzare ciò che è stato detto);
  • down-keying (sdrammatizzare ciò che è stato detto);
  • depistaggio conversazionale (cambiare discorso evitando di rispondere, distogliere la conversazione dal tema);
  • ricentraggio conversazionale.

Nella scelta della risposta a uno stimolo si può anche mettere in pratica la cultura dei confini (altro tema di ricerca peculiare del nostro approccio), cioè la capacità di tenere a distanza l’interlocutore o decidere le distanze relazionali adeguate entro le quali far girare il rapporto.

Per esempio esplicitare in modo diretto o indiretto al proprio partner occasionale o professionale che non si desiderano ingerenze riguardo alla vita privata, o il modo di educare i figli, è un modo di fissare la dinamica del rapporto, di decidere e dire “fino a qui puoi entrare, oltre no”.