3 Negotiation Traits that Incorporate Cultural Intelligence

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In a recent episode of Negotiations Ninja, Mark Davis shares the top three cultural intelligence traits you need to understand and master: dualism vs collectivism, universalism vs particularism, and linear and nonlinear thinkers.

His training surrounds 10 different units of understanding surrounding cultural intelligence, but he believes obtaining a good grasp on these three is the best starting point.

#1: Dualism Versus Collectivism

The individualist is someone who emphasizes negotiation being an individual pursuit where they’re trying to obtain individual goals. It’s about achieving something on a personal level.

Mark points out that these are indicators that give you a benchmark—not everyone is the same way. 

For example, not everyone from Singapore or Korea is going to have a collectivist approach.

However, in many instances, those cultures are more focused on collectivism. The negotiation is about the wider success of the group and maintaining personal relationships, not their individual wants or desires.

#2: Universalism vs Particularism

Universalist organizations are largely rule-driven. They used standardized terms and conditions that apply to every negotiation. Everyone can think of an organization—or unit within an organization—that is focused on a more universal approach. One example is the legal team in an organization where they must abide by strict standards and laws.

On the other side of the spectrum is particularists. These typically consist of sales or marketing teams. They view every negotiation as its own specific scenario. Sometimes the rules are bent to adapt to each unique situation that changes from client to client. They apply different standards to each relationship.

#3: Linear and Non-Linear Negotiators

Linear thinkers may be the individuals on the procurement side of things. They typically like to do one thing at a time, work through an agenda, and tick off “checkboxes” as they go. These are also the types of people that tend to keep their work and personal lives very separate.

Mark shares that the German market tends to follow this linear pattern. Your personal life is not integrated into the office. Whereas in the U.S. things are cross-pollinated. It’s very natural to talk about a football game, your latest round of golf, or your child’s little-league game in a work setting.

The Anglo-Saxon culture is more non-linear by design. They’re okay with interruptions and will prioritize based on those interruptions. They’re more open to multi-tasking and handling tasks that are thrown their way.

Mark points out that if you’re able to master these three it helps you within your organization, across generations, and across the globe.

Culture isn’t something to be overcome

The bottom line is that the influence of your culture is pervasive in everything you do, individually or collectively. It’s foolish to think that other cultures’ negotiations aren’t influenced the same way.

The western lens tends to be that our cultural differences are something to be overcome. But Mark prefers to view culture as “Something that needs to be understood and the differences in culture can be leveraged and utilized so that we all can succeed.”

We must embrace our differences and learn to understand them to adapt our negotiation techniques to find value for both parties. A deep cultural intelligence can be the difference between a deadlocked negotiation or finding success.

Listen to episode 137 of the Negotiations Ninja podcast to learn more about cultural intelligence traits.