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Share on LinkedIn linkedin. Share on Google Plus google-plus. Share on Whatsapp whatsapp. Share on Pinterest pinterest. Share on Reddit reddit. Asking for a pay rise is incredibly awkward. Print this article. Latest from Business. Latest News Most Read. This behavior seemed pretty consistent throughout Asia, at least in my experience.
During the 90s, the Japanese were very successful and seen as a hot streak that many people assumed would blow past the U. It was ultimately unsustainable, but that was the thinking at the time. One thing I observed was they admired aspects of the American culture. If I had to generalize about the way they conducted business, I would say that they tended to be homogeneous with everyone having a specific role, an enormous amount of teamwork, and little dissension or disruption.
Interestingly enough, I found that they admired aspects of the U.
They also had generalizations of Americans, such as golf courses everywhere, everyone eats giant steaks each night, the houses are all huge with large backyards where people have barbecues every weekend. When they visited, they wanted to experience our unique culture instead of going to Asian restaurants. There was open debate, in other words. From my perspective, it was the opposite of their style. Let me share an example of a negotiation I had that encompasses these first two observations. Most of my negotiations with Asian corporations were difficult, so I tried various tactics with the intent to create a win-win situation.
In a particularly tough case, I ended up using an American who was fluent in Japanese. The people sitting across the table had never met him, so they had no idea he spoke their language.
The conversation followed the typical style with the primary contact speaking English to me, but when talking to his colleagues, he spoke Japanese. The English speaker started the conversation with a comment on how they noticed in the User Manual that there were two page 13s and no page He asked what we were going to do. I had an idea and decided to try something different. Needless to say, everyone was in shock, mostly my team because they had never seen me act that way. The reaction from the Japanese, on the other hand, was unexpected.
I was able, however, to buy some time by taking advantage of their stereotypes of American culture. In the end, we had a good relationship, they had a great story to share, and both sides were able to approach the future price negotiations with transparency. Another common situation is conducting business over dinner or during the evening.
This behavior is more standard throughout the world, but I share yet another story from Japan. At the end of most days, we would go out for the evening where we would either stay at one restaurant or go to multiple venues, one for drinks and appetizers, another for dinner, a third for another dinner or dessert, and maybe a place after that. A lot of drinking occurred and much conversation.
The pattern finally stood out for me. Much of the discussion was social, but about once an hour, a business topic was discussed for about three to five minutes and, then, back to socializing. It was fascinating to see the situation play out time and time again.
I was witness to this technique being taught to a salesperson-in-training. On a business trip to meet with our trading partner, the Senior General Sales Manager, his new employee, and I went to dinner. This new hire had been in the Japanese government but was now going into sales. His English skills were excellent, but the manager spoke little English, so the young man was our translator for the evening.
Just as in negotiations, the salesman spoke to me in English and the manager in Japanese. Sliwan-san, my boss wants me to ask you if you are married. Sliwan-san, my boss wants me to ask you if you have children. Sliwan-san, my boss wants me to ask you where you live in the U. The goal was to have a business dinner with good social conversation, but about every hour, you bring up a business topic to keep it on track.
It was a memorable experience, indeed.
This story comes from a Boeing friend of mine when he was negotiating with the Russians. The talks had been going back and forth for some time, and progress was being made. At one point, however, the Russians got really upset, starting pounding the table, stormed out, and slammed the door.
My friend was taken aback. He had no idea what was going on.
The translator told him not to worry that this was common and merely posturing and that they would return in about 30 minutes. They returned, and the negotiations continued as if nothing had occurred. Dan was flabbergasted.
The next day they met at the same table with more back and forth. Dan decided to follow their lead. He slammed his notebook down, stormed out of the room, and slammed the door.
He returned 45 minutes later and sat down as if nothing had happened. They made progress, and then, the Russians order vodka, they toasted each other, and then drank. The negotiations continued over the next few days, and they ended with a good deal.