Negotiating in the global marketplace

An article recently posted to Inc. discusses charts by Richard Lewis that “reveal how to negotiate with people from around the world.” As a third-party quality provider, this is a key value for us because we absolutely agree that cultural considerations are key in negotiation and general business activities and it can be a significant barrier in sourcing activities in particular. Having local knowledge and cultural expertise is a competitive edge for us, no doubt.

Lewis’ book, When Cultures Collide, further discusses the topic, and we’ll be checking it out.  The Inc. article quoted and paraphrased the following from this source:

  • Canadians, compared to Americans, tend to be more low-key and inclined to seek harmony, though they are similarly direct.
  • English tend to avoid confrontation in an understated, mannered, and humorous style that can be powerful or inefficient.
  • Germans rely on logic but “tend to amass more evidence and labor their points more than either the British or the French.”
  • Spanish and Italians “regard their languages as instruments of eloquence and they will go up and down the scale at will, pulling out every stop if need be to achieve greater expressiveness.”
  • Scandinavians often have entrenched opinions that they have formulated “in the long dark nights,” though they are reasonable conversationalists. Swedes often have the most wide-ranging discussions, Finns tend to value concision, and most Norwegians fall somewhere in between.
  • Swiss tend to be straightforward and unaggressive negotiators, who obtain concessions by expressing confidence in the quality and value of their goods and services.
  • Hungarians value eloquence over logic and are unafraid to talk over each other.
  • Bulgarians may take a circuitous approach to negotiations before seeking a mutually beneficial resolution, which will often be screwed up by bureaucracy.
  • Poles often have a communication style that is “enigmatic, ranging from a matter-of-fact pragmatic style to a wordy, sentimental, romantic approach to any given subject.”
  • The Dutch are focused on facts and figures but “are also great talkers and rarely make final decisions without a long ‘Dutch’ debate, sometimes approaching the danger zone of overanalysis.”
  • Chinese tend to be more direct than the Japanese and some other East Asians; however, meetings are principally for information gathering, with the real decisions made elsewhere. Hong Kongers negotiate much more briskly to achieve quick results.
  • Indian English “excels in ambiguity, and such things as truth and appearances are often subject to negotiation.”
  • Australians tend to have a loose and frank conversational style.
  • Singaporeans generally take time to build a relationship, after which they can be shrewd negotiators.
  • Koreans tend to be energetic conversationalists who seek to close deals quickly, occasionally stretching the truth.
  • Indonesians tend to be very deferential conversationalists, sometimes to the point of ambiguity.
  • Israelis tend to proceed logically on most issues but emotionally on some.

We have a section on our website that discusses managing quality in India and China.  We continue to add content there.

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