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Which nationalities are most confrontational – and which are the most emotional?

By Adam Boult

Cultural differences can prove problematic when it comes to negotiation, says author Erin Meyer

When people from different parts of the world have to negotiate over any issue, cultural differences can often provide an obstacle to reaching an agreement.

In the latest issue of the Harvard Business Review, management professional Erin Meyer, author of The Culture Map, offers various different methods for negotiating with someone who has a different cultural style of communication than your own.

To illustrate the article, HBR draws up an axis highlighting where various nations stand in terms of emotional expressiveness, and whether they’re likely to avoid confrontation, or embrace it.

Cultures are thus divided into four groups:

Emotionally expressive/Confrontational

Israel, Russia, France, Spain, Italy

Emotionally expressive/Avoids confrontation

Brazil, India, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Philippines

Emotionally unexpressive/Confrontational

Netherlands, Germany, Denmark

Emotionally unexpressive/Avoids confrontation

UK, Sweden, Korea, Japan.

A video accompanying the article says: “In some cultures, it’s entirely appropriate to show emotion during a negotiation – to raise your voice, laugh passionately, or even put a friendly arm around your counterpart. In others, this much expression not only feels intrusive or surprising, but may be viewed as immature, or unprofessional.”

“Negotiators often assume that more expressive cultures are also more confrontational – but that isn’t always the case. In some countries, such as France and Israel, emotions pour out, including disagreement. But for other very expressive cultures, such as Brazil, Mexico and Saudi Arabia, open disagreement could be seen as insulting.”

“Some less expressive cultures, such as Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands, see open disagreement and debate as positive and necessary, as long as it’s expressed calmly and factually.”

• Cultural differences can be a minefield for expats

“Others tend to be both less emotional and non-confrontational, which means you’ll have to be especially attuned to subtle cues for both positive and negative responses.”

The tactics Meyer recommends for dealing with these differences include adapting the way you express disagreement, learning how the other culture builds trust, and avoiding yes/no questions – often a flashpoint for cross-cultural clashes.

Source: The Telegraph
Link to original article

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