The Brazilian businesspeople like the French and Spanish were quite aggressive. They used the second highest percentage of commands of all the groups. On average the Brazilians said the word ‘no’ 42 times, ‘you’ 90 times and touched one another on the arm about 5 times during 30 minutes of negotiation.
The patterns of Mexican behavior in our negotiations are good reminders of the dangers of regional or language group generalizations. Both the verbal and nonverbal behaviors were quite different from those of their Latin American (Brazilian) or continental (Spanish) cousins. Indeed Mexicans answer the telephone with the much less demanding bueno (short for good day). In many respects, the Mexican behavior was very similar to that of the negotiators from the United States.
French speaking Canada:
The French speaking Canadians behaved quite similarly to their continental cousins. Like the negotiators from France they too used high percentages and threats and warning and even more interruptions and eye contact. Such an aggressive interaction style would not mix well with some of the more low key styles of some of the Asian groups or with English speakers including English speaking Canadians.
English speaking Canada:
The Canadians who speak English as their first language used the lowest percentage of aggressive persuasive tactics (threats, warnings, and punishments totaled only 1 per cent) of all 14 groups. Perhaps as communications researchers suggest, such stylistic differences are the seeds of inter-ethnic discord as witnessed in Canada over the years. With respect to international negotiations, the English speaking Canadians used noticeably more interruptions and ‘no’s’ than negotiators from either of Canada’s major trading partners the United States.
Like the Germans and the British the Americans fell in the middle of most continua. They did interrupt one another less frequently than all the others, but that was their sole distinction.
These differences across the cultures are quite complex, and this material by itself should not be used to predict the behaviors of foreign counterparts. Instead great care should be taken with respect to the aforementioned dangers of stereotypes. The key here is to be aware of these kinds of differences so that the Japanese silence, the Brazilian no, no, no…… or the French threat is not misinterpreted.
Different in Values:
Four values – objectivity, competitiveness, equality and punctuality that are held strongly and deeply by most Americans seem to frequently cause misunderstanding and bad feelings in international business negotiators.
Americans make decisions based upon the bottom line and on cold, hard facts. Americans don’t play favorites. Economics and performance count, not people. Business is business. Such statements well reflect American notions of the importance of objectivity.
The single most important book on the topic of negotiation, ‘Getting to Yes’, is highly recommended for both American and foreign readers. The latter will learn not only about negotiations but perhaps more importantly about how Americans think about negotiations. The authors are emphatic about separating the people from the problem and they state that- every negotiator has two kinds of interests; in the substance and in the relationship. This advice is probably worthwhile in the United States or perhaps in Germany but in most places in the world such advice is nonsense. In most places in the world, particularly in collectivistic high context cultures, personalities and substances are not separate issues and cannot be made so.
For example consider how important nepotism is in Chinese or Hispanic culture. Experts tell us that businesses don’t grow beyond the bounds and bonds of tight family control in the burgeoning Chinese Commonwealth. Things work the same way in Spain, Mexico and the Philippines by nature. And, just as naturally. Negotiators from such countries not only will take things personally but will be personally affected by negotiation outcomes. What happens to them at the negotiation table will affect the business relationship regardless of the economies involved.
Excerpts from International Marketing