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International Business: Mastering Mindsets in Cross-Cultural Relationships and Negotiations
What to say when in a cross-cultural negotiation?
In his book Mindsets, Dr. Glen Fisher discussed the importance of mastering mindsets before attempting to conduct international business or diplomatic negotiations. At the end of the book he outlines eight steps to be successful international practioners.
Mindsets are the patterns of thinking of a person or people that have been conditioned by their cultural upbringing. These mindsets contribute to how each individual and representatives of different cultures see things and how they attribute or assign value to each part of a negotiation.
Master Cultural Mindsets by Acknowledging Mindset Factor
The first key to overcoming mismatched mindsets is to acknowledge that they exist. International business is carried out by people of different ethnic cultures who come from different backgrounds. Recognizing that negotiators or workers from various cultures think differently is an important first step to coming to a common understanding.
Add Mindset Analysis to Area and Country Studies
The second key mentioned by Fisher is to add mindset analysis to area and country studies. Before going to work in another area of the world, it is customary to read up on the general geography and history of that country or region. To be thoroughly prepared, an international businessperson or political diplomat should commit to analyzing cultural mindsets as well. Analyzing cultural mindsets means to learn about local customs and how it affects a people's worldview and approach to life.
Use Language Study to Capture Mindsets
Many engage in language learning for the simple purpose of speaking the words in an intelligable manner. However, Fisher points out that a better reason to speak a local language is to actually communicate with those people. In order to communicate effectively cross-cultural workers should learn the nuances and mindsets that go along with a particular word or phrase selection.
Enhance Culture Learning Skills
A fourth key to mastering mindsets in cross-cultural relationships is to acquire and hone culture learning skills. In this age of globalization many are developing good curriculum to teach multinational managers and workers the necessary skill sets to observe and integrate into a foreign culture. A very important resource developed by Richard Slimbach of Azusa Pacific University is The Transcultural Journey, a manual that guides cultural learners through a set of delicate conversations to unlock hidden nuances of the host culture.
Determine the Stress Points in Dealing with Cross-Cultural Mindsets
Culture shock is a natural phenomenon that attacks almost all multinational workers. The constant bombardment of foreign stimuli grates against the nerves and senses of the cross-cultural business person. Things just are not done the way they are supposed to be done or at least that is what the mind of the expatriate tells them. So about 8 months after they arrive, many international managers and development experts become overwhelmed. Determining the stress points in dealing with cross-cultural mindsets will help to lessen the frustration that comes when culture shock takes its toll.
Look for Contrasts in Information Bases
A sixth key to mastering mindsets in international business and negotiations is to look for contrasts in information bases between you and your national counterparts. A simple way to get a better understanding of the predominate mindset of a host culture is to read its local press, watch its local media offerings, and observe what and how something is taught in the local education system or religious center.
Seek to Understand the Personalities of Bicultural Interpretors
In most cases, recent arrivals to new surroundings will rely on interpretors to help them interact and communicate with members of the host cultures. The interpretors themselves have learned to negotiate at least two languages and operate in two mindsets. A newbie in an international situation can pick up important cultural cues by paying close attention to how the bicultural interpretor operates in the new host culture.
Continue Research and Development
The final key to mastering mindsets is to keep up the research and development in pursuing deeper understanding of psycho-cultural factors and their affect on cultural mindsets. Data obtained through observation of a host culture should be used as springboards for further research annd even greater insights into that culture. Moreover, the research and development should add to the "collective competence" of international cross-cultural workers everywhere.