If you are planning to negotiate a contract and have had preliminary discussions with the other party that are sending you an unfamiliar cultural signal, here are some of the factors you should consider.
- Culture expresses itself in many different ways. Some of the most familiar cultural interactions are political, social, religious, financial, and behavioural. Some take the form of beliefs. Each of these is shaped by and reflects the values of that culture. So it is vital in any negotiation that there not be a values mismatch that either prevents reaching agreement or that raises obstacles to compliance with the agreement.
- Values and practices that may be the norm in one culture may not be acceptable or workable in another culture. It is vital to understand that while negotiating the allocation or trading of property is doable, values cannot be distributed. They are by their nature non-negotiable.
- One of the steps you can take before scheduling any formal discussions is to access books, articles or essays on culture. The internet provides a wealth of information. You will find any number of helpful publications that can help you avoid strategies, language, and commentary that may be offensive.
- Try in the time available to expand your comfort zone in order to avoid exchanges that might appear as criticism including any disapproving body language. Body language is said to comprise at least 70% of human communication.
- Lastly, remember that while a negotiation is not a forum for cultural debate, you must ensure that any values differences do not become obstacles in the path of your agreement or its implementation.