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ALM business method China's Cultural Diversity communication skills communication training The Intercultural Negotiators’ Training

China’s Cultural Diversity

Article written by Ginevra Bighini, www.interculturalnegotiation.wordpress.com; mentoring by Dr. Daniele Trevisani, www.studiotrevisani.com

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Today I would like to talk about the cultural differences that can be found in the Chinese area, starting with a brief explanation of China’s History.

China is one of the biggest countries of the world and the most populated one. Understanding its history is very important to understand the global development, because some of the most decisive discoveries and inventions took place precisely in this area (e.g.: paper, printing, gunpowder, compass, etc.)

One of the most important elements of Chinese history is the Dynasties.  Emperors and Empresses from the same bloodline ruled China from 150 BCE to 1911 CE. When a dynasty was overthrown, a new one would take its place or China would be divided into different states.  These Dynasties were held together by one of the most influential ideas of though, known as Confucianism. (1)

Confucianism was developed in China by Master Kong in 551-479 BC, who was given the name Confucius by Jesuit missionaries who were visiting there. However, the fundamental principles of Confucianism began before his birth, during the Zhou Dynasty.

At that time, the ideas of respect and the well-being of others were prevalent, but there was also an emphasis on spiritual matters – specifically, the goodness of the divine and the mandate to rule given to those in power. These ideas were meant to unite the people, create stability and prevent rebellion.

Confucius believed his philosophy was also a route toward a civil society. However, he shifted attention away from ruling authorities, the divine or one’s future after death, focusing instead on the importance of daily life and human interactions. This new, refined version of the philosophy did not completely take root until the next dynasty, the Han (140-87 BC). The foundation of Confucianism is an appreciation for one’s character and the well-being of others. 

This doctrine has a complete system of moral, social, political, and religious thought, and has had a large influence on the history of Chinese civilization. (2)

In 1911, China overthrew the Qing Dynasty to form a democracy, however in 1916 the government fell apart.  This caused a great chaos leading to China being divided up into several smaller states.  Eventually, two major parties tried to reunify them: the Nationalist party, that sought for democracy, and the Communist party lead by Mao Zedong, that took control of the country after the 1949 revolution.

Mao Zedong lead multiple cultural and industrial revolutions with varying degrees of success, turning this country into a mix of Communism and Capitalism. (3)

Even though it recently got reunited, china’s cultural differences still live. Due to the many barbaric invasions that got different ethnic groups mixed up, to the different geographical features that can be found in this vast land, to constant political and economic divisions and reunifications, etc. China possesses an incredible variety of cultures.

For example China legally recognizes 56 distinct ethnic groups and 292 living languages. All these languages could communicate thanks to Chinese characters, that could be well understood all over the country.

Concerning religion, the government of the People’s Republic of China officially espouses state atheism, but over the millennia, Chinese civilization has been influenced by various religious movements, such as Taoism and Buddhism, that were combined with the doctrine of Confucianism.

Diversity can be found also in Chinese cusine. In China we have the “Eight Major Cuisines”, including Sichuan, Cantonese, Jiangsu, Shandong, Fujian, Hunan, Anhui, and Zhejiang cuisines. All of them are featured by the precise skills of shaping, heating, colorway and flavoring. Generally, China’s staple food is rice in the south, wheat-based breads and noodles in the north. Furthermore, southern cuisine, due to the area’s proximity to the ocean and milder climate, has a wide variety of seafood and vegetables, that the northern cusine do not possess. (4)

There are many other cultural differences that can be mentioned, but there is not enough space to list them all.

So, to conclude, China is an example that cultural differences do not exist only among different countries, but also inside one country. To negotiate effectively, we must be aware that even our closest neighbour, culturally speaking, can be the exact opposite of us, even though we both share the same place of origin.

Chinese Regions

(1) http://goayc.org/blog/2018/5/17/a-brief-overview-of-chinese-history

(2) https://study.com/academy/lesson/confucianism-definition-beliefs-history.html

(3) http://goayc.org/blog/2018/5/17/a-brief-overview-of-chinese-history

(4) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China

Article written by Ginevra Bighini, www.interculturalnegotiation.wordpress.com; mentoring by Dr. Daniele Trevisani, www.studiotrevisani.com

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Communication Training and Communication Skills

© Article translated from the book “Negoziazione interculturale, comunicazione oltre le barriere culturali” (Intercultural Negotiation: Communication Beyond Cultural Barriers) copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available for any Publisher wishing to consider it for publication in English and other languages except for Italian and Arab whose rights are already sold and published. If you are interested in publishing the book in English, or any other language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact the author from the webstite www.danieletrevisani.com 

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In the following article I will go on explaining the basic features of the ALM business method, listing the most important communication training techniques and communication skills that every negotiator would acquire with it.

Communication trainings and simulations are essential to help us move from theory to practice. In the communication training of the ALM method: 

  1. We use an active training, paying particular attention to experiential assimilation and to active participation; moments of conceptual and theoretical reflection are useless if not concretely experienced. 
  1. the theory is connected to personal cognitive schemes: we aim to introduce new concepts and skills and to modify the underlying belief systems. A pure academic expression of concepts may not be enough to make people change; 
  1. There is a transition from cognitive schemes to behavioural and linguistic schemes: each of us must be ready to use concepts, beliefs and attitudes, by activating them without resorting to memory, thus avoiding long cognitive elaborations. Just as the footballer does not need to think about how the femur moves to shot a penalty kick, the negotiator must develop communicative automatisms connected to an inner communicative know-how. 

The success of communication is therefore positively related to: 

  • the available communicative repertoire: behavioural and communicative responses wideness and variety, stylistic repertoires wideness and variety; 
  • the degree of “readiness” (easy accessibility) with which communication skills and relational moves can be used. This way, they become motor and linguistic schemes ready for activation and not mere mental traces to be reworked when necessary. 

The final aim of this method is to obtain a high level of preparation on communication, which can help the negotiator to be ready to negotiate during most of the negotiation situations that may arise. 

Communication training is divided into two areas: 

  • transversal competence: the basic area (ground-level) where the main skills necessary in each negotiation are examined, and 
  • situational competence, in which individual contexts necessities and specific interlocutors’ needs are analysed. 

 The success of intercultural communication depends on two types of communication skills: 

  • The first is transversal to cultures and consists of general rules of effective communication that apply in any cultural context and it represents the basic communicative competence (ground-level expertise); 
  • The second one is more specific and regards the cultural and situational target. In fact, there is an analysis of cultural traits and communicative strategies are based on the culture with which one must interact. 

The main interpersonal communication skills covered (ground-level expertise) are: 

  • code switching: ability to change codes, linguistic styles and linguistic registers; 
  • topic shifting: ability to manage a change of topic and a conversation re-centering; 
  • turn taking: ability to manage conversational turns; 
  • self-monitoring: ability to self-analyse; 
  • others-monitoring: ability to analyse and decode one’s interlocutor’s phases; 
  • empathy: ability to understand others’ point of view and to see the world from within their value system; 
  • verbal linguistic competence: ability to use language, choosing words and repertoires correctly; 
  • paralinguistic competence: ability to use the non-verbal elements of speech, pauses, tones, accents, underlining, emphasis; 
  • kinesics competence: ability to communicate through body movements (body language); 
  • proxemic competence: ability to communicate through space management and personal distances; 
  • socio-environmental competence: ability to interpret and understand “what is happening here”, in relation to the frames that come to life in the interaction. 

In order to work on these skills, it is necessary to apply active training techniques. A special publication of the ALM method is dedicated to this topic. 

Active training techniques mainly use actions, experimentations and behavioural researches, including elements such as: 

  • role playing; 
  • breathing techniques and voice use; 
  • techniques used for unlocking conversational repertoires; 
  • stage space use and body language; 
  • simulations and business games; 
  • theatrical and negotiating improvisation; 
  • analysis of the dramatic structure of the text, analysis of critical incidents and psychodramas; 
  • character building and relationship games. 

To be continued…

"Intercultural Negotiation" by Daniele Trevisani

© Article translated from the book “Negoziazione interculturale, comunicazione oltre le barriere culturali” (Intercultural Negotiation: Communication Beyond Cultural Barriers) copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available for any Publisher wishing to consider it for publication in English and other languages except for Italian and Arab whose rights are already sold and published. If you are interested in publishing the book in English, or any other language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact the author from the webstite www.danieletrevisani.com 

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The Intercultural Negotiators’ Training: an Intruduction to the ALM Business Method

© Article translated from the book “Negoziazione interculturale, comunicazione oltre le barriere culturali” (Intercultural Negotiation: Communication Beyond Cultural Barriers) copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available for any Publisher wishing to consider it for publication in English and other languages except for Italian and Arab whose rights are already sold and published. If you are interested in publishing the book in English, or any other language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact the author from the webstite www.danieletrevisani.com 

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To be able to negotiate effectively, knowing how to sell is not enough: it is necessary to develop transversal skills that favour the fluidity of communication and help us to avoid cultural barriers getting in our way. To do this we must undertake a path of deep personal training, without limiting ourselves to a superficial linguistic and cultural knowledge. So, let’s learn about one of the most effective training methods, the ALM method.

The ALM negotiation approach is characterized by: 

  1. action line flexibility, non-stereotyped negotiating strategy, creative strategy; 
  1. the negotiator’s strong emotional awareness; 
  1. the presence of strong negotiation preparation, communication training and simulation; 
  1. a holistic approach that pays attention to: 
  • a general knowledge, 
  • the know-how, but especially 
  • the negotiator’s knowledge of his/her role as a negotiator. 

This approach favours the negotiator’s/communicator’s growth, especially on the human level. 

Rather than identifying a single negotiating strategy, the ALM method invites us to ask ourselves which are the available “constellations of strategies” – using Tinsley’s term – and which of them may be more profitable. 

The ALM approach also invites us to always take into consideration the fact that misunderstandings may occur, leading us to conflicts, and to examine the inferred meaning of negotiation arguments, without automatically taking it for granted. 

The ALM method basically proposes an open, transparent and direct line of communication. However, we must remember that this method of communication cannot be applied automatically, because it cannot be considered a standard even in Western societies, where clarity and immediacy are apparently promoted (as in American society), and even less so in Eastern societies, where excessively explicit statements can lead to offenses and conflicts. 

For this reason, the intercultural negotiator must be aware of the “stress or shock “that comes from direct communication. He/she must also learn how to alleviate it, in case one decides to go for an open communication, such as for a constructive criticism or even for new communicative ways, that can be unusual for the other party.  

In this case, we are referring to the psychological pact between negotiators, in which both interlocutors, even before entering the negotiation, try to establish their own methods of communication, while sharing some negotiating rules. 

The success of intercultural negotiation therefore depends on: 

  • the ability to establish common rules, that must be followed during negotiation;  
  • the rules application consistency; 
  • the ability to change the rules when they are not practicable or effective. 

On an intercultural level, it is important to work on communication skills, and on the basic attitude of intercultural awareness. 

Working on our skills means increasing our awareness of communication tools, by understanding how to use them effectively. Working on attitudes means eliminating cultural rigidities, recognizing stereotypes and one-way approaches, knowing how to maintain a flexible and open mind, which allows us to move with awareness during a negotiation and in international contexts. 

To be continued…

"Intercultural Negotiation" by Daniele Trevisani

© Article translated from the book “Negoziazione interculturale, comunicazione oltre le barriere culturali” (Intercultural Negotiation: Communication Beyond Cultural Barriers) copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available for any Publisher wishing to consider it for publication in English and other languages except for Italian and Arab whose rights are already sold and published. If you are interested in publishing the book in English, or any other language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact the author from the webstite www.danieletrevisani.com 

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For further information see:

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  • different cultural approach
  • different cultural context
  • direct communication shock
  • direct line of communication
  • disagreements
  • Effective intercultural negotiation techniques
  • face-to-face communication
  • front-line communication
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  • high-context cultures
  • How cultural differences affect negotiations?
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  • What are the 5 stages of negotiation?
  • What is effective intercultural negotiation?
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