Negotiating with Americans

In the summermonths we have two American students over as interns. Julie is one of them and wrote this on intercultural negotiation issues:

   Julie Claar, HOLTROP S.L.P. Transaction & Business Law  

Negotiating with Americans

As the world gets smaller and smaller with technology, business persons need to become more aware of the cultures of other countries.  

With the slightest miscommunication or interaction, a whole business deal or relationship can be terminated. You may misinterpret a friendly gesture, an agreement, or a gift and consequently not get what you expected. The best thing to do before a negotiation is be aware of the differences and be prepared to accept and respect them.

Americans have a reputation of being hardheaded and stubborn, this may honestly be the case however it is just the culture. The US is a monochromic culture, meaning that they would prefer scheduled breaks, detailed communication, timeliness, and planned meetings and agendas, they just don´t like surprises. They take business very seriously, so they expect you to be serious in return. It´s about the deal, not quite the relationship you develop. They are direct people (and appreciate openness and frankness), do not like silence, discourage touching in the workplace, stress the importance of eye contact, enjoy certainty, and sometimes are more informal than most. They will come into the negotiation having the full authority to make decisions having planned and prepared a target goal and a walk away point.  

Finally to Americans “a deal is a deal.” When they sign a contract, they do not want to return to change it.

I am studying business in a school in the United States therefore I have taken several classes based on negotiation and organizational behavior in the workplace. From what I´ve learned and experience, a lot of this is true. Americans are straightforward and like certainty.  

Personally, a monochromic culture describes my life and expectations perfectly. Lateness is a sign of disrespect in the states and often leads to annoyance. Business is serious for Americans because in the US we seem to live to work, not work to live. People do value relationships more than they used to but partly for business reasons.  

Having a good relationship with the company will lead to potentially cheaper resources, less work to replenish supplies, and almost as good as a guarantee as you can get. Americans are also always striving for the next best thing; new is good in the States; the grass is always greener.

Another thing I have learned is the international marketplace and how all the citizens of every country need to respect and develop personal skills to be able to mold to different cultures, especially in business situations.  So not only should you expect to be prepared to accept and respect the American culture, but they should be prepared to respect yours as well. Last advice; do not get offended by a US business person. They aren´t meaning to, and like anyone else, if they are, you don´t want to do business with them anyways.