Negotiating across different cultures is a challenge for many in the business world. Preconceived ideas about cultures other than your own, or trying to interpret what is happening through your particular cultural lens, can make communication difficult. However, having a good working knowledge of how other cultures negotiate can make a difference.
What are The Most Business-Oriented Cultures?
One country that has been a lead player in the business world, especially in technology, in Japan, where etiquette matters a great deal. Brazil has a growing economy and also has a business environment where in-person interaction has a higher value than written communications. Several Middle Eastern countries, such as Bahrain, have business-friendly environments, although sensitivity to local Arab and Muslim customs is essential. Germany remains one of the leading countries in the business world, with strong norms that business people need to follow to ensure success.
Negotiating in the Japanese business world requires cultural sensitivity due to a need to save face. When negotiations aren’t going well, Japanese negotiators will often state that they are considering the request or that it is inconvenient, rather than refuse outright. Because of the emphasis on the common good in the local culture, negotiators should expect agreements to be for the good of all.
When negotiating a business deal in Brazil, things go much more smoothly with as much face time as possible. Making an impression as an individual is more important than representing your company. Brazilians will make many of their decisions based on their impression of the person they are in negotiations with and that person’s reputation.
A letter of introduction is most helpful when negotiating in Bahrain, and you should expect your peers to take time getting acquainted with you. As in Japan, the word “no” is rarely used during business negotiations. Unwillingness to commit or an evasive answer usually can be interpreted as a negative response.
No matter what the nature of the business negotiations, your German peers should never be left feeling as though you’re promoting something you cannot deliver. Germans are well-known for saying what they think, without a need to save face or avoid embarrassment. Once negotiations result in an agreement, it is reasonable to expect contracts and other written agreements.
A World of Opportunities
No matter where you’re conducting business, one thing certain is that a global perspective can make a positive impact on your bottom line. Cultural differences need not hinder successful negotiations. If you know what to expect in a different culture, you can plan accordingly.