Negotiating in Other Cultures
I. The Most Asked Cross-Cultural Question
Who Negotiates like Americans (U.S.A.)?
The Answer is Canadians and Australians, because they share some basic aspects
of a common cultural background:
- Early settlers came from Anglo-Saxon Countries.
Upon arrival they encountered an indigenous people who were killed or
Many moved west into wide-open spaces developing a strong sense of
independence. There was no need to resolve conflict—they could always move
For most of their history all three of these countries have had
populations in large geographic areas.
The United States, Canada and Australia all possess the same type
of competitive legal system derived from English Common Law.
These Nations are relatively young which affects
their view of time.
and the PRC (Peoples Republic of China),
the United States, Canada and Australia
are heterogeneous societies with an Immigrant heritage (to date 1 in 14
people in the U.S.A.
are legal immigrants, in Australia
it’s 1 in 10 and Canada
the ratio is 1 in 6.
II. Culture is
the way of living developed and transmitted by a group of human beings,
consciously or unconsciously, to subsequent generations. More precisely, ideas,
beliefs, values, habits, attitudes, customs and traditions become accepted and
somewhat standardized in a particular group as an attempt to meet continuing
Culture is overt or covert coping ways or mechanisms
that make a people unique in adapting to their environment and its changing
No matter how bizarre a person feels, thinks and acts, it always
relates to his or her
experience. When we perceive deviations from our expectations underlying it is
a cultural system of values and beliefs that we do not understand.
In most of the world cultures, Negotiating is an Art Form—Intricate as
Dance, expressive as a Picasso Painting and as affirming as the Winning Goal
Captures the World Cup Football Championship for one’s Country.
But in many Nations - - as evidenced by trade imbalances, budget
deficits and dissatisfaction with international dealings - - they often have
problems with doing the Dance and Playing the Game.
Consider if you will the issue of Context or environment – the
enveloping atmosphere that sheds light on meaning and helps explain what is
III. What is Context?
The surrounding setting of interrelated conditions and values that
throws light on meaning. These are the situational and cultural factors that
affect communication and the nature of relationships.
A low context culture (Canada, the United
States and Australia) is one where meaning and
understanding is looked for in what is said. But a high context culture (Japan,
PRC and South Korea)
is one where meaning and understanding is derived from what is not said, in the
silences and pauses between the silences.
For example, the American emphasis is on sending out or giving accurate
messages (being articulate) whereas the Japanese emphasis is on receiving
messages (being a listener and interpreter so they are more vague and indirect.