What Advice Can You Give Me to Prepare For My First Cross Cultural Negotiation?

Of course, it is important to go into your negotiation with the right mindset.

Open your own cultural responses up to meet another culture.
But do not be so focused on the cross-cultural aspect of your negotiation so much that you forget your basic preparation.

Like all negotiations, preparation is important.

You need to know exactly:

Where you stand in your negotiation process,
What your aims are,
What exactly is on the table,
…and what is not.
Prior preparation can also be critical if there are any cross-cultural communication differences.

When you know the extent to which you can negotiate and are fully prepared, you will be able to pace yourself if there are any differences.

So, how do you prepare for your first cross-cultural negotiation?

Broad Outlines – Key Details

You need to prepare both the broad outlines and key details.

Most people remember to prepare for the key details. After all, these are important to the negotiation process. You know what details you need.

You should also ask yourself if there are other details that might be important from another cultural perspective. But don’t get too caught up in this. Blunders do not usually happen due to lack of preparation here.

They can happen if you forget to prepare…

Your broad outlines too.

This is where your own natural assumptions might lead you to miss something.

Here are a few questions to brainstorm:

Why are you there in the first place?
What is the one thing you want to get out of this negotiation?
What are your limits?
Knowing your limits and the broad outlines will help you to navigate any cultural differences more effectively should you find that you are not on the same boat.

Winging it rarely works in cross-cultural negotiations. You must stay focused. Your basic preparation is essential.

With regards to other cross-cultural aspect, a few key questions to the right person prior to your meeting is all you need before the meeting.

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Cindy King is a Cross-Cultural eMarketer & International Sales Specialist, aligning businesses with different cultures. She has over 25 years field experience in international business development and helps mid-sized business owners create international business development strategies that shorten time to profitability.

Trade Away This Bad Negotiating Technique

As I look around my basement, I realize that maybe I’m hanging on to too much stuff. When I trade for goods and services (some call that “negotiating”), I realize I’m also pretty good at hanging on to my profit when I’m the seller, and my money when I’m the buyer. How good are you at hanging on to what you already have? One simple technique can make you much better at it.

This works even when no money is trading hands. Perhaps just your time is involved. Maybe your boss wants you to take on “just one more thing.” Or you’ve been scheduled for one more meeting. Pretty soon you’re overwhelmed and kicking yourself for saying “Yes” a few too many times. Maybe you can’t say “No” either, but there is another option.

Bad Negotiating Exemplified

Let’s imagine for a moment you’re a seller engaged in a dialog with a potential buyer that goes like this:

– Buyer: “You’re higher than your competition. What can you do when you sharpen your pencil?”

– Seller: “I am authorized to match our competition’s price.”

– Buyer: “Great! Unfortunately, I see your standard shipping is 2 weeks, and I need it on Tuesday. Can you do that?”

– Seller: “I can expedite shipping for you. You can have it by Tuesday if you order now.”

– Buyer: “Nice! But I won’t be able to use it without the accessories kit. Will you include it at no charge if I buy?”

– Seller: “Sure, I’ll do that just for you, because you’re special.”

Let’s stop our example there, although the dialog (and the concessions) certainly didn’t stop there. Notice that at no time did the Buyer commit to the purchase, despite the fact that the Seller has discounted away profit and increased costs by expediting shipping and giving away accessories. The Buyer is “on a roll”; why wouldn’t they keep asking for more concessions?

They will, because they are grinding, a negotiating technique that enables them to continue to sweeten the deal until they either take pity on the Seller and stop, or the Seller makes them stop.

A Fair Turn

Stopping a grinder is easy. Simply replace concessions with trades. Whenever you are asked to give something up, prepare to trade for something of perceived value.

When your boss asks you to do “just one more thing,” ask what can come off your current projects list to make room for the new one. When one more meeting comes up, ask which deadline can be pushed back to accommodate the new unplanned need for your time. When your buyer asks for a price concession, ask for… well, what CAN you trade?

Bring In Your Trade-Offs

When negotiating, it can literally pay to be prepared. Anticipate the potential concession requests you may encounter. As a seller, you can prepare a list of possible trade-offs, which might include:

– Reduced feature set

– Slower (less expensive) shipping

– Accepting delivery (and making payment) sooner

– Faster payment terms

– Cash instead of credit

– Adding a “bonus” instead of reducing the price

– Increasing the order size

– Testimonial letter

– Referral to a new prospect

– Booking the order NOW

Why You Should Have it in Writing

There is an old saying in the West that says that if the preacher talks too much about stealing, better sneak out a little early, race home and lock the cellar!

The same holds for the good old boy that says, Ah, we don’t need to have a contract. You can trust me. The most innocent reasons for putting something in writing are that frankly each of us forgets, changes our minds or some folk just plain lie!

Robert Ringer famously said in the 70’s, If you have it in writing, you have a prayer. If you don’t have it in writing you just have air! Sadly, old Bobby was right more times than wrong.

A Contract is a meeting of the minds. When two people finally have that, it means that they think the same thing, or at least at that moment in time they think that they think the same thought! So a good thought is to write that good thought down in black and white so both parties can look at it. When you both see it in those bold letters and it is really what you both were thinking, then you really do have a contract. The final touch is when each of you put your John Hancock’s on the dotted line.

Then in the future when your partner decides that he doesn’t remember it the way you do, each of you can pull out that paper and refer to it to refresh your aging memories. Of course, you keep a copy in your 40-ton vault just in case your partner still doesn’t agree ‘cuz that’s what courts are for! Besides, we want to fall into the status quo.

The US has 5% of the world’s population, 95% of the world’s attorneys and 98% of the world’s litigation. And if you were to sneak a peak at the stats, I’m sure we’d find that a goodly part of that is split between New York and California! (quote me and I’ll deny it!) So don’t worry, sue him. You’ll be right at home in good company.

Most all of us want to think the other person is honest and wants the best, or at least is a straight shooter, (the exception, of course, is if you are in the crosshairs of his very large rifle scope!). But thinking that someone thinks what we do and will continue thinking that way is rather dicey.

Ever played that game where you all sit in a big circle and you whisper something in the person’s ear to your right. That person in turn repeats what he thought he heard to the person on her right, and so on around the circle. The rule is that no one can repeat themselves. Each one has to repeat once what he thought he or she heard.

When the last person repeats what he heard to you and you tell the group the two statements the group usually rolls around in laughter! Remember that game? Of course you do! It’s crazy and that’s why we have courts! That’s why we have everything worth remembering exactly put down in writing and witnessed.

Some of the kindest, sweetest people I have ever known have said, OK, great I’ll have my attorney draw up an agreement. Actually it was a compliment. Those kind of people are unique and usually those contracts gather dust in my active files.

It’s the oily guy with the new porcelain smile and his $3,000 suit paid for by his last victim that says, Ah we don’t need to have a contract. You can trust me…NOW That’s when I sneak out early, race home and lock the cellar!

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