Cultural and national negotiation styles reflect the communication behaviors and priorities of that culture. Priorities such as trust, teamwork, non-confrontational attitudes, and openness are all on a scale with each culture. The communication behaviors of each culture reflect these priorities and can dictate how the culture will engage in negotiations. Often, Japanese and other Asian negotiators plan a social event and dinner before any real negotiations take place. Similarly, Americans focus on taking customers out to dinner and a round of golf. Engaging in this type of activity builds trust and opens the line of communication between the two parties. Using persuasive techniques to “connect” with another person can lead to trust and a sense of rapport being built. The negotiation styles of these two cultures intertwine well, allowing them to understand the priorities of their respective cultures.
Once the relationship is built on trust, negotiators can begin exchanging information. This level of openness depends greatly on the level of openness in that country. This phase of the negotiation requires each party to meet the end of reciprocity—which can sometimes make one party feel like it’s confronting them—but if done right can develop “quick trust” (Britt, 207). Rapid trust develops when two groups share information and allow the other to see their weak side. Obviously developing trust is important, but some cultures may not be comfortable with revealing information quickly.
Getting down to business: Using culture to persuade
Arguably one of the most important factors in negotiation is understanding the culture in which you are participating in the negotiations. Cultures differ in their openness and in the time at which actions are performed. The terms of the agreements must be taken into account; For example, Italy has a 90-day billing cycle versus the “normal” billing cycle in the USA. These cultural norms are very important to understanding how to succeed in negotiating on a global scale. Relationship building is the key to building trust between potential partners or clients. Trust can become a cross-cutting factor when it comes time to make a final decision, understanding what is expected and following through on it will allow negotiations to flow smoothly.