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Global Strategy: Different Cultures and Negotiation Styles

Global Strategy: Different Cultures and Negotiation Styles

Rumor has it that US negotiators are hard to understand. That's because, unlike the Japanese, Americans are not racially or culturally homogenous. Two different orientations to time exist across the world: monochromic and polychromic. Monochromic approaches are linear, sequential, and involve dealing with one thing at a time. These approaches are most common in the European influenced cultures of the Switzerland, United States, Scandinavia and Germany. Polychromic orientation involves approaches of many things and involves many people, most common in Mediterranean and Latin cultures such as France, Greece, Italy and Mexico.

Business negotiators from poly-chronic cultures:

  • Begin and end meetings at flexible times
  • Have breaks when they think it's appropriate
  • Manage very well a high flow of information

Business negotiators from monochromic cultures:

  • Are used to scheduling breaks
  • Reply on detailed, explicit, and specific communication
  • Don't have a problem with talking in sequences


global, negotiations, cultural awarenessglobal, negotiations, cultural awareness

How often do you negotiation with people from other countries? Is your business centered mainly on international affairs? Because if that's the case, you may have realized that business individuals from foreign countries have varying approaches to negotiations. Here are some general guidelines to help you understand different culture and negotiation styles across the world.

Assessing Personal Space

Business people from different cultures may feel uncomfortable if you sit too close to them at the negotiation table. In Europe and the US, business meetings are organized in conference rooms, where people sit at a fair distance from one another. They want to have some sort of privacy and be able to discuss terms without having opponents listen to every word they say. Business people from the Latin countries on the other hand, are a lot friendlier. They don't mind sitting close to their opponents.

Approaches to Negotiations in the US

Business people from the US are individualists. They want to take independent decisions and they usually don't consult with opponents. They're aggressive in some ways, and according to the Japanese, Americans come to the table with unrealistic deals, and always have a fall back. On the other hand, they're confident, persistent, and energetic, which is a good thing. In the US, business people approach negotiations with a lot of determination. They like closure and certainly, and they're used to dealing with one problem at the time.

global, negotiations, cultural awareness

Approaches to Negotiations in Africa

African people respect kinship bonds and elder roles. People are organized in extended families, village, lineage, and lineage groups. Elders affect people’s lives, maintain social control, and make the need to have formal laws minimal. To make sure progress or agreements is made promise not to invoke the power of ancestors. Elders substantial powers when they step in; their words are respected. Rather superstitious and completely different from US and European negotiators, African people like to want to be sure that progress is being made. The parties involved in the deal must make a promise: they should never bewitch, curse or invoke the power of ancestors.

Approaches to Negotiations in Japan

The following values tend to influence Japanese communication focus on goals, inter dependence, and hierarchical orientation. Japanese negotiators are known for their politeness, emphasis on establishing relationships, and indirect use of power. They disclose considerably less about themselves and goals then French or American counterparts. Japanese negotiators put their emphasis on literal meaning of the world used and more emphasis on relationships established before negotiations. They are less likely to make procedural suggestions on counterparts.

global, negotiations, cultural awarenessglobal, negotiations, cultural awareness

Approaches to Negotiations in Europe  

Negotiation styles in Europe vary according to language spoken, region, nationality and numerous other contextual factors. French business people for example, are aggressive. They use threats and warnings to get what they want. Also, they're patriotic and they rarely speak another international language to make themselves understood. Germans and Russian are extremely cold and impersonal. Their style is direct and they almost never allow jokes. Up north, in Scandinavia, business negotiations are less formal. The people are more relaxed, they're not hostile, and they welcome a friendly tone.

As you can see, negotiating with international business people is challenging. Prior to entering the meeting, find out more information about your opponents. Assess their negotiation style, understand it, and use it to win the deal.


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William Taylor is the writer to this article. He is a regular contributor at many sites and mainly focuses on business related topics. He also writes for a site <a href= offering laser hair removal machines.

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