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January 17, 2014

Conversation Tips in Negotiations

Learn how to negotiate with US Americans with confidence
Interacting and talking with US counterparts for routine matters like status updates or meeting agendas may not cause much stress. However, when it comes to having to ask about changing a deadline or negotiating on project particulars, many become nervous. Negotiation is a skill. We are not born naturals (most of us!). While there are some 'hard skills' required in effective negotiations, several important soft-skills noted below also go a long way in creating effective outcomes:  

1. Do not lecture your counterpart - BUT do rely on your expertise and consultation skills to back up your stand
While you may be ready with a list of facts and figures, do not speak more than a few minutes at a time. Remember, you are on the phone (in most cases). They can't see you. They need a chance to digest what you are saying and add in their thoughts as well. These interactions should be discussions, not lectures. We should talk with our counterparts, not to them.

2. Break up sections of discussion with questions
Related to the point above, asking questions can be a good strategy in getting the other party to respond. Preparing for and practicing some strategic questions can go a long way. In addition to breaking up the conversation, and giving them a chance to talk, questions can help you to gather important information. If they don't talk, it's impossible for you to know what they are looking for. Letting them talk from time to time allows you to actively listen and collect valuable information about their and their requirements that you can use in the negotiation discussion.

3. Always use Pleasantries 
While negotiating, keep in mind, pleasantries go along way. Don't forget to use please (not kindly), thank youexcuse mesorry, and others as appropriate. Saying these words [as much as many Americans may expect] may feel out of place to many Indians, but for an American ear, it shows respect. Saying these words will always help, not saying these words always hurts.  

4. Use Small Talk 
Small talk builds relationships. It will never go out of style. The art of conversation, when done in a culturally sensitive way builds relationships. We tend to negotiate better with those we get along with better. If we have a favor to ask someone we barely know, it's much more stressful than asking someone we know and feel comfortable with. Knowing the inner mind and desires of the other person comes through small talk and intuition. While cultural tips help in understanding the larger context of that person's background, it remains important to understand each person on an individual level. Small talk helps us to break the ice and find common ground. This can go a long way in conversations on or off the negotiation table!

Author, Jennifer Kumar, coaches virtual team members working with US Americans to bridge the cultural divide. We can work on small talk with US Americans, managing meetings, building your developers into consultants, and presentations over virtual mediums, and preparing your teams to come to the US among other business building skills.

Related Links:
Making Small Talk with US Counterparts  

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Updated May 2019

Authentic Journeys: Bridging Culture on Virtual Teams

We help build effective, culturally competent global teams with focus on the cultures of the USA and India. Jennifer Kumar, Managing Director, an American citizen, has almost 10 years experience living, studying and working (owning a business) in India. Authentic Journeys Consultancy is registered as a Private Limited in India (Kerala) and an LLC in the USA (Salt Lake City, Utah). We provide onsite and live-online instructor-led courses, facilitation and corporate coaching.