Living in a country with a diverse amount of cultures and having access to the global markets makes being aware of cultural barriers in negotiation very important. This awareness could make or break a good negotiation. There are many aspects to someone’s culture which could create a barrier in the negotiations.
Here are a few tips to help to break the barriers.
Learn a few phrases
People appreciate it if you make an effort to connect to their culture. So try to learn a few phrases in their native language which you could use to break the ice at the beginning of the discussion. Furthermore, research the business customs of the culture.
Research your client
It is important to get as much information about who your potential client will be. Find out about their experience and background. Furthermore, it is important to find out if they have done many international negotiations before or not. This will help you to know if you need to adjust your negotiation tactics. If you struggle to get information, ask someone in their business if they would be able to get you the information you need.
Hire a cultural adviser
If your client has not done many international negotiations, it is important to hire an adviser from their culture. This person can help to guide you during the negotiations. Should they feel that you are doing something to offend your client, they can step in and give you advice on how to rectify the situation.
Your client may have certain cultural needs that could require them to step away from the meeting. Try to take these into consideration when planning a negotiation with them so that you can have a successful negotiation.
In addition, as an employer you can equip your employees to deal with cultural barriers by doing the following:
Promote appreciation for cultural difference
You can do this by holding a lunch-and-lecture meeting. You can encourage socialisation within your company and with clients by holding a lunch where a few people make food from their culture and share it while explaining some of the customs of their culture which are different to others.
Encourage them to try new things at least once
When faced with opportunities to explore your client’s culture, you will have the chance to try new things, especially food. It is important that should the consumption of certain foods go against your values that you politely decline. You need to respect each other’s culture but furthermore there needs to be a tolerance for the difference that each person has. This will help to build a bridge instead of a barrier.
Cultures add to the tapestry of life and if we can go into a meeting understanding where each one is coming from then we will be able to have successful negotiations. Through showing tolerance and understanding, the barriers which exist can slowly be broken away and a new happy medium can be created.
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