Topics: Negotiation, Culture, Anthropology Pages: 6 (1222 words) Published: December 11, 2014


Negotiation is commonly observed in one’s daily life, it could be a bargaining process between organizations, or resolving a conflict with your neighbour. Basically negotiation is a communication process for two or more parties to get to an agreement. Managing cross-cultural negotiation should be thoughtful about each party’s culture differences, which could be assessed in three domains, communication effectiveness, negotiation strategy and the agreement been achieved. In this article, I’ll analyse how culture differences affect each domain and process outcomes, by combining my study and inter-cultural experience, then advices will be given in how good performance could be achieved when acting on the implications of cultural differences for negotiation by individual and organizations.

Cross-cultural Communication

Communication is the act of transmitting messages, including information about the nature of the relationship, to another person who interprets these messages and gives them meaning. Successful communication requires not only that the message is transmitted but also the meaning of the message is understood (Thomas, D.C. & Peterson, 2014). In cross-cultural negotiation, to ensure the message being exchanged equally and more easily, one negotiation language should be chosen, and English is usually used in those formal situations, which might force at least one party to use their second language. Of course strong bilingual skills(or translator) were needed but cultural differences exist even between English speakers and affect the effectiveness of communication. As shown in Figure 1, cultural difference could affect how the message sender encodes opinions into message; the way of interpreting the message is also affected by the receiver’s culture. Given that the bigger cultural distance between message sender and receiver, the less amount of common culture (knowledge, expectation, value) to help them encoding or decoding the message similarly. For example, when the British encode the message: "Very interesting", they really mean that: “It’s clearly nonsense but I say so as showing my politeness”, but for those who “decoding” this message without perceiving the context, or by literally translation, they will acknowledge as: "They are impressed". This might cause huge confusing or misunderstanding between negotiators imperceptibly, thus prolong the negotiation. Methods could be adopted to verify that every negotiator is staying on the same page, for example by observing body language and rephrasing the received message before replying, different transmit channel would also help such as writing and drawing.

Figure 1: Cross-cultural communication process

Source: (Thomas, D.C. & Peterson, 2014)

Strategies in cross-cultural negotiation

Communication is actually the implementation phase of negotiations where strategies are transformed into actions(Harkiolakis, N., Halkias, D., Abadir, 2012). The difference of cultural implication in communication may affect the emotion and judgment of negotiators and gradually affect the strategies been implemented in negotiation. The way how people implement negotiation strategies varies from organizations and individuals. Generally speaking, according to cultural difference, two styles been characterized by a bipolar typology called high-context and low-context communication styles. In low-context cultures, the message is conveyed largely by the words spoken. In high-context cultures, a good deal of the meaning is implicit, and the words convey only a small part of the message (Thomas, D.C. & Peterson, 2014). For example U.S. would be considered as a low-context culture while Asian country is more likely to maintain a high-context culture. But this is not always true because negotiators might be different from their original culture due to character of individual or the internal culture of organization. Since those cultural differences...
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