Based On Intercultural Communications Competence
Improving as intercultural communicators and increasing your intercultural competence is the foundation to becoming good at intercultural negotiations. To gain effectiveness in intercultural negotiations you must first develop a good understanding of negotiations and then adjust that basic knowledge to particular cultural contexts. Specifically, this means after mastering the basics of negotiating you must understand the effect of culture on the negotiation process.
As is true for domestic negotiations those who understand the negotiating process and employ this process effectively in their intercultural interactions tend to be most successful in reaching their desired outcome. However by process-at the international level-I also mean understanding the factors involved in intercultural negotiations and effectively processing those factors as a part of the negotiations.
International negotiations are increasingly playing an important role in business operations. This is especially true if you consider the impact that technology has on all of our personal and professional lives. One of the memorable slogans of the business department here has been the popularized aphorism “Act locally, but think globally.” Corporations are aware that to be successful in tomorrow’s marketplace employees must be competent in communicating with a diverse number of people within the organization and inter-organizationally.
What I was trying to stress when presenting intercultural conflict is that there is a necessary shift in the paradigm on how we view intercultural relations. This paradigm shift is especially evident in scholarship but shows up in business negotiation theory as well and gradually in international relations theory. The paradigm shift was reflected with the Nobel Prize winning game theory approach to relationships. Since its celebrated introduction to negotiation theory it has been used successfully for calculating winning approaches to sports, business negotiations, political campaigns and war strategies. When I first started teaching here in Estonia many students were surprised that I was not emphasizing the classical bargaining (tug-a-war strategy that can end with some sort of compromise) approach to business negotiations and intercultural relations. Instead from the beginning I emphasized the paradigm switch for understanding what was best for creating predictably good outcomes.
The new perspective on negotiating was also influenced by Roger Fisher and William Ury with their best-selling negotiations book prescribing what they call Principled Negotiations. The book advocates four fundamental principles of negotiation: 1) separate the people from the problem; 2) focus on interests, not positions; 3) invent options for mutual gain; and 4) insist on objective criteria. By parities focusing on the fact that they share an interest in creating beneficial results disputing parties can more easily invent options for realizing mutual gain. This means that professional negotiating skills must grow beyond the elementary bargaining approach (which assumes that for one side to gain more, the other side must gain less) toward an approach that will allow both sides to win. However the interest based approach does not work well in cultures where the primary initial endeavor is not to determine interests but to establish the relationship.
There have been years in my teaching communications when I used Stephen Covey as the basis of a theoretical approach to business negotiations. Students have written me back after several years of gaining additional degrees in business and after some years of success as a business professional saying that they used Covey’s book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, as a personal and professional guide to success. Covey’s theory also...