Different Cultural Negotiating Styles: French and American styles are very different!!

If you aren’t aware of different cultural styles and you use your own negotiation style when working with other cultures then you may not be as successful as you hope!

1: Negotiating: The signed contract means different things!

Some cultures view the contract as sealing the deal and the beginning of business. Other cultures see the contract as the first stage of a long term relationship between the businesses.

The difference is the approach – getting the business or building the relationship.

That is why rushing to sign a contract with a Japanese company may mean you don’t get the contract at all as you are dealing with a culture where the focus is getting to know you and build trust for long term business.

2:  The Approach: Formal or Informal?

How you communicate with other cultures can make or break the important first contact.

Your relaxed informal approach will not go down well with more formal cultures where the tone and words you use and how you address your counterpart can be perceived as disrespectful. On the other hand a very formal preference can be perceived as aloof and arrogant if you are dealing with a more informal culture.

Every culture has it’s preference for how negotiations should be conducted and knowing the cultural rules helps you adapt and win the business.

Generally Americans jump in with first names whereas French prefer titles.

3: Discussions: Say it like it is or coat it in honey?

Maybe you like to tell it like is is and say exactly what you think so everyone is clear and you can’t stand it when people beat about the bush! Others prefer to use a more conciliatory approach and find the direct approach aggressive and offensive.

Generally American’s like to be direct, the French enjoy a lively debate while Japanese prefer a more complex use of indirect language, facial expression and body language to disagree.

4: Who makes the final decision to proceed?

Once the discussions have completed then who can say yes?

Yes in some cultures means I hear you. It does not mean I agree! If you hear yes as an agreement to proceed then chances are you are baffled by why it takes many meetings before an agreement is finally reached.

You need to be clear who makes the final decision. Is it the person or team around the table which is generally the case for the UK or America or do they have to take it back to get approval from a higher level which can be the case for India and China?

Get some cultural insight through cultural competence training.