Ten soft skills needed in cross-cultural negotiation by Manuel Armando Ponce Yalico

Friday November 18, 2022

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“We do not see things as they are, we see things as we are”, said the French writer Anaïs Nin, and today, even though we live in a world hyperconnected by the three pillars of globalization (technology, communication and transportation), cultural differences give a predominant weight to this phrase, especially in the field of negotiations.

The Portuguese neurologist Antonio Damasio, mentioned in his book “Descartes’ Error” (1994), that “decision making is a process, usually unconscious, driven by our previous experiences and past emotions generated”. He called this theory ‘The Somatic Marker’. But in addition to the complexity of deciphering the somatic marker of our counterpart in international negotiations, we must also take into account the cultural background of his learning, which also formed his basic principles and even influenced the general lines of his negotiation style.

It is therefore important to highlight the soft skills necessary to achieve the right environment for a successful cross-cultural negotiation. We highlight ten of them:

  1. Cultural metacognition. Reflect on our cultural assumptions, avoiding prejudices and stereotypes.
  2. Empathy ‘cultural perspective taken’. Defined not only as “putting oneself in the other person’s shoes”, but also taking into consideration their cultural n.rmative baggage.
  3. Cultural curiosity. Through observation we must understand the mindset of cultures: why they act as they do, without previous prejudices or intolerant reactions.
  4. Time management. Remember that time is relative, not absolute, and what we may consider a long-range time, in cultures such as India, is the right time to e.tablish trust.
  5. Communication management. Not only consider the context that can be high or low (Geert Hofstede in “Cultural Dimensions”), but we have to add the complex, and i.creasingly necessary, virtual communication.
  6. Creativity. The differences are not necessarily negative. From a strategic point of view, they can be considered complementary, allowing a multicultural aproach. This skill gives us the opportunity to create value during the negotiation.
  7. Leadership. Synergy and the elimination of cultural paradigms, as the main characteristic, must stand out among the team being led or the partners with whom we n.gotiate.
  8. Continuous learning. Neuro-plasticity, disseminated by the American psychologist William James, shows us that our capacity to create new neuronal networks and, t.erefore, new learning, accompanies us practically all our lives.
  9. Global thinking. Keeping in mind that our market is the world, knowing what is happening is to remain competitive.
  10. Credibility. Walk the talk’, many cultures take the honor of the word and a clear definition of principles as the basis of trust to start business.

Research Sources:







• Cómo puede afectar la cultura a una negociación (How can culture affect a negotiation) – Jeswald W. Salacuse – Harvard Deusto.

• Cultural Perspective Taking in Cross-Cultural Negotiation – Sujin Lee – Graduate School of Innovation and Technology Management KAIST. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/227246188_Cultural_Perspective_Taking_in_Cross-Cultural_Negotiation

Manuel Armando Ponce Yalico

Professor of International Business at USIL MBA, Master in Neuromarketing, Master in International Business Management. Entrepreneur with more than 20 years in foreign trade, director of Brey Group Inc. (Florida) and responsible for business development in the industrial, technological, e-commerce and energy sectors. Lecturer for workshops of the Lima Chamber of Commerce, expert in cross-cultural negotiation.