Mindmill engages with diverse international companies all over the world. Besides people in the UK we like to work with the Africans, Arab Nations and European. Working with people from different cultures makes the daily work-life more challenging, exciting and refreshing. Getting to know how people with a different culture think, behave and interact gives new perspectives on your own life but also on the life of others. Some fun cultural facts! Did you know that South Africans use the handshake as their most common greeting and that they have a variety of handshakes between ethnic groups? Or that in a meeting in Saudi Arabia the person who asks the most questions is likely to be the least important? The decision maker is likely a silent observer.
While working with clients all over the world the world Culture pops up. Working internationally ends up in not only crossing borders, but you also cross different cultures. We can ask ourselves the following question: Is it possible that culture has influence on our negotiation? If the answer is possibly the next question will be, how?
First of all, there can be a lot of differences in communication styles between cultures. For example in the way people communicate; do they communicate direct and simple, or indirect and complex? In cultures such as Japan, reactions to your proposals may be gained by interpreting seemingly vague comments, gestures and other signs. In a first meeting you will not receive a defined commitment or rejection. In contrast, in cultures such as the USA or the Israel, you can expect to receive a clear and defined response to proposals and questions.
Some cultures think the goal of a business negotiation is a signed contract between the parties. Other cultures think the goal of a negotiation is rather building up a relationship between the two sides. If relation negotiator sit on the other side of the table, convincing them of your ability to deliver a low-cost contract will not help you to get the deal. It may be helpful to convince them that you can build up a rewarding relationship for both parties. Furthermore, cultures can act different regarding risk taking: do they like to take a lot of risks or do they prefer not to? The negotiations’ culture can affect the way people try new approaches, tolerate uncertainties and take action. The Japanese, with their intricate group decision-making process, tend to be risk averse. In comparison with them, Americans are risk takers.
The next few steps describe a few steps you can consider when you are trying to make a deal:
1. Don’t rush the negotiating process. A negotiation that is moving too fast for one of the parties only heightens that person’s perception of the risks in the proposed deal.
2. Devote attention to proposing rules and mechanisms that will reduce the apparent risks in the deal for the other side.
3. Make sure that your counterpart has sufficient information about you, your company, and the proposed deal.
4. Focus your efforts on building a relationship and fostering trust between the parties.
5. Consider restructuring the deal so that the deal proceeds step by step in a series of increments, rather than all at once.
As we can see there are some cultural differences that we can be aware of during international negotiations. When you start a partnership with somebody from a different culture it can be handy to know from what culture they come from. Do you want to know what your organisation culture looks like? For example getting to know which culture in your organisation can affect other cultures? Maybe a 360 questionnaire is something for you, with this you gain insights from your employees about their vision regarding cultural diversity in your company.
Check Mindmill’s website www.mindmill.co.uk and read more about the international companies we work with.