Culture and Negotiation

Negotiations are everywhere in the world of business. CEOs negotiate deals to bring in more business. Employees negotiate for improved salaries. Peers negotiate with each other to get the most favorable job roles. Globalization brings an additional factor into these negotiations. People from different cultures use negotiation more than ever before.

Once, a successful company might have included employees from one background, in one city. Now, your boss may be in Tokyo, while you’re based in New York. Cross-cultural negotiations are now commonplace in big business. Recent research has found that culture has powerful effects on negotiation outcomes, particularly when we allow stereotypes to affect our view of the negotiator.

An article appearing in the Journal of Applied Psychology tells us that what culture you are from affects how your emotions are perceived, and therefore how expressing those emotions affect your success in negotiations. In their study, Adam and Shirako compared the negotiating ability of individuals from East Asia to that of Europeans. They found that the negotiator from East Asia elicits more cooperation than a negotiator from Europe. A person from East Asia is often stereotyped as emotionally inexpressive. In contrast, a person from Europe is expected to be more expressive. When an East Asian, thought of as calm and stoic, acts aggressively, they are seen as tougher and more threatening than an angry European person. This gives the negotiator from East Asia an advantage.

What are your thoughts on how culture affects negotiating? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.