© 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
Deciding Priorities (What to Talk About) and Formats (How to Talk)
Cognitive economics deals with the efficient use of mental resources. An intercultural meeting poses high problems in the use of resources, since they must be divided and “absorbed” both by the debate on the contents and by the communication difficulties generated by linguistic and cultural differences.
The problems of cognitive economics therefore become even more pressing than intra-cultural meetings. We can therefore indicate that the use of time and resources becomes a meta-competence of the intercultural negotiator. Among his gifts are therefore the prioritization skills, the ability to set priorities, to be able to answer the fundamental question: what is good to talk about? How to manage scarce and limited time?
Each meeting has a high cost. Let’s simply try to calculate the hourly cost of many executives who spend a morning, arriving by plane from different countries, the cost of rooms and materials, the cost of preparation. Each group that comes together to achieve a goal may or may not give itself a strategy to optimize the resources deployed during the meeting. Intercultural prioritization skills require the negotiator to actively undertake to define which priorities to treat, thus also acting on the format of the negotiation, as well as to set the basic terms to be treated.
Defining which priorities to treat also means making very concrete choices: what to talk about first, what to talk about next. How to talk about it, with what approach, with what attitude. Other priorities concern the establishment of a positive conversational climate: without the right climate, any discussion on the contents becomes more difficult. For this, for example, it is necessary to understand that there is a precise relationship between climates and communication styles.
Some communication styles are deleterious to the achievement of a result, are diseconomic, dysfunctional, and must be grasped (in others), and avoided (for themselves). The subject of communication economics therefore requires:
1. Ability to recognize the (limited) attentional resources available for negotiation (resource awareness);
2. ability to understand the boundaries of time available (awareness of the times);
3. ability to move within these boundaries, deciding the most appropriate contents and recognizing the dispersive ones (awareness of strategic contents);
4. ability to manage the phases and times of the meetings (awareness of the interaction sequences)
5. ability to act on communication styles appropriate to the different phases, and on the attitudes underlying the styles of relationships (contextual awareness of communication styles).
The main themes of the economics of negotiation communication are highlighted in the following principle.
Principle 15 – Economics of communication and centering of negotiation
The quality of the negotiation depends on:
- The ability to center the contents of the conversation;
- The ability to manage one’s attention resources (attentional recharge and management of personal energies) and grasp the states of others;
- Awareness of the time limits for negotiation;
- The ability to segment negotiation times, distinguishing the negotiation phases and their specific objectives, in particular by mentally and de facto separating the listening time (empathy) and the proactive time;
- The ability to modulate one’s own communication styles, breaking the communicative rigidity, knowing how to adapt the styles to the different phases, e.g. friend in the warming up and small talk phases (introductory chat), psychoanalytic in the empathic phases, assertive in the propositional phases, and other styles appropriate to the context.
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