Friday, February 22, 2008

Global Challenge-Negotiating

When considering negotiations it is my feeling that most people from North America would consider themselves to be upright in their core values. This is good when we are negotiating amongst our own kind or with those who hold the same core values and ideals as we do. However this is not a perfect world and I believe we can set our sights toward the Middle East and the conflicts that are taking place in the world to realize that. Not everyone thinks the way you do.

In my mind negotiation as an exchange of different objectives with the goal of finding a common ground or a mutually acceptable compromise, is something that should be workable for both parties. Anything beyond that is not negotiation rather a flaunting of might. Negotiation requires mutual respect not mutual trust; trust is something that is gained through negotiation not integral to it. Trust only comes through interaction. In my view if we feel that we should trust our opponent from the beginning then we are being trite.

Many times, we may see a thread of puritan ideals, when trying to realize a perfect world in which everyone should be "good" and at the same time be proud it. Don't get me wrong, I am in the same group, I was only fortunate enough to survive twenty years living in a culture that was in no way similar to that which I was born into. I learned, with great hardship, that the rest of the world does not see "good" in the same light that I do, in fact some people's good may not be good by my ideals. This is simple reality in a global village.

Negotiating is influenced and affected by one's base cultural values, which are made up from our religious and social ideals. What if we grew up in a Communist country? Would we not have values and ideals different from those of a Capitalist country; therefore we would see reality much differently from the environment that we were nurtured in.

From my personal experience of living in China I had to learn to accept things that were sometimes unacceptable in light of my upbringing and cultural value-set and ideals. However, by looking beyond my own limitations I began to see opportunities and possibilities that never occurred to me before. This took years and many a frustrated night contemplating and trying to understand what was wrong. Finally, I would realize that the problem was me; the way I think. And I think the way I was taught to think but that is not the way the rest of the world thinks. We need to allow room for other ways of thinking in a world where my culture is the youngest one around.

In your mind, place yourself at a table with two Chinese negotiators. You should have your strategies set strong in your value set, you know what you have to offer and you know what you want. You put everything you have on the table and say "this is all I can offer". What will you do when the Chinese negotiating team all of the sudden brings something new to the table when they said that they had nothing new to offer previously? Would they be considered as dishonest? Would they be seen as lying? Now, stop and ask yourself how they may view the negotiators from your side when you refuse to bring anything new to the table. Will they view you as being dishonest? Would you be seen as lying? This is a mixing of cultures and what is acceptable in one culture may not be acceptable in the other. So how do we deal with these issues in a global economy and in order to maintain peace in a world that is nearing turmoil?

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