Article translated from the text “Negoziazione interculturale, comunicazione oltre le barriere culturali”, copyright FrancoAngeli Editore and Dr. Daniele Trevisani Business Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission.
The ALM method
In every team there is a problem of selection (how to enter, what characteristics have those who enter) and training (how to grow team members). When the first phase is wrong, when people are poorly selected, mistakes have a chain effect. Training generally aims to increase existing performance and knowledge (incremental training), and is rarely used with the aim of acting in depth on the personality to change it (transformational training).
In the ALM method, we aim to draw on both models, but it is necessary to be aware that even the most incisive of transformational techniques does not change the genetic parameters, for example, and the selection of subjects remains important. In extreme environments, the American Institute of Medicine has begun to seriously study the “Crew performance breakdown” between astronauts forced to live together in a limited space for a long time. Many air and space accidents were caused by the dynamics of incommunicability between the crew (intragroup incommunicability) or between crew and other crews (crew: working groups, crews) – such as ground controllers – (intergroup incommunicability).
For these reasons, NASA’s Human Factors Research and Technology Division has included additional selection criteria to minimize the risks of intra-group incommunicability starting from the selection of human resources, thus evaluating not only scientific skills but also interpersonal and communication skills. This selection and adequate intercultural training are also considered indispensable for the space missions of the future characterized by intercultural crews. Furthermore, among the selection criteria, no longer only individual skills are evaluated, but an analysis of “compatibility” is carried out (compatibility with the group and the ability to live in the group).
In other words, it has been discovered that some astronauts can be excellent “astronauts” from a technical and scientific point of view, but unsuitable for dealing with diversity, sustaining a relationship with other cultures, and therefore cannot be part of multicultural space crews. A little annoying behavior, repeated for days on end, is enough to generate nervousness and irritation. For companies, there is an implication: (1) not everyone is fit to negotiate, and (2) even less so interculturally. Any intercultural communication mistake made by a salesperson operating abroad (eg: an area manager) or by an entrepreneur, can mean one less contract. Companies and organizations must be aware of this when choosing their commercial or institutional representatives.
Too often, product preparation is confused with an alleged ability to negotiate and communicate. The two are absolutely different. Intercultural negotiators must be properly selected based on their capacity for openness to different cultures, mental flexibility and communication skills, and not only on the basis of their business experience or product preparation.
Principle 2 – Selection of intercultural negotiators The success of intercultural negotiation depends on the organization’s ability to select, with respect to the parameters of:
- openness to dialogue;
- open-mindedness and ability to deal with diversity;
- preparation on general negotiation techniques and openness to one’s own negotiation training as a development lever;
- specific preparation on intercultural negotiation techniques and openness to one’s own intercultural training;
- ability to draw on flexible and adaptive communicative repertoires, knowing how to adapt to the different cultures with which it has to interact.
So it doesn’t matter to be in a team of American, Chinese and Russian astronauts – in space – to deal with incommunicability and intercultural difficulties. Studies on intercultural communication affect everyone – schools, education, the family, the company. They explore, for example, new tools of intercultural mentorship (support for intercultural adaptation) and the strategies used by mentors to improve intercultural skills, or the problems of World Business and economic globalization, its implications on negotiation between people belonging to different cultures .
These studies analyze the problems of stereotypes, of changes in mutual perception caused by the experiences of direct interaction, of the frustration or confusion experienced in cross-cultural business interactions.
For further information see: