The first time I attended an international trade show was a real education for me as a small business owner. I didn’t realize how much I took for granted in my interactions with customers and vendors. I had much to learn about international negotiation strategies.

It’s one thing doing business in the land where we were born and raised. It’s quite another to venture into communications and international negotiations with dozens of unfamiliar cultures.

At home we know how to interact with potential clients without (hopefully) offending them or being disrespectful. Social graces and customs are typically something we handle without thinking.

Nevertheless, even at home, it’s still helpful to understand where we fall in the five main styles of negotiation and conflict resolution.

  • Competing
  • Accommodating
  • Avoiding
  • Compromising
  • Collaborating

When we understand our own negotiation style and our prospect’s style, we can adapt ours to mesh well with theirs.

Yet as your small business grows, you might find yourself, as I did, venturing into international waters to negotiate with overseas suppliers, manufacturers, and shipping partners.

This adds a new level of complexity to your negotiations that goes far beyond differing negotiation styles. Working internationally, you’ll face important cultural differences that also affect how your negotiation tactics will work. A clear understanding of these differences will help your business growth.

Some elements that will differ among cultures include views on such things as:

  • authority
  • individualism versus collectivism
  • masculinity and femininity
  • uncertainty or ambiguity
  • time frames
  • definition of quality of life

As you can see, the mix of negotiation style plus cultural differences adds up to quite few variations on what might, at home, be a simple negotiation.

International Business Negotiation Styles and Cultural Differences

To help you navigate multi-cultural business deals, our colleagues at Fundera created this infographic on international negotiation styles with cultural norms, below.

It includes negotiation styles for ten countries as well as tips on how to conduct a negotiation in each of those countries. Negotiation styles are outlined for these countries:

  • United States
  • Canada
  • Mexico
  • Brazil
  • South Africa
  • United Kingdom
  • France
  • India
  • China
  • Japan

If you plan to grow your business with customers or vendors in those countries, this infographic is a great inter-cultural negotiation primer for your next trip.

international business negotiation styles

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Andre Palko Owner
Andre Palko is founder of the Small Business Rainmaker™ and its free weekly e-newsletter. He is dedicated to delivering award-winning marketing and content that helps business owners thrive in any economy.