Skilful intercultural communication involves learning from the experiences of others and avoiding major mistakes. Business negotiations, for example, particularly those involving investment decisions, require deep understanding of the socio-economic and political situation of the host country. There may also be considerations involving political or cultural sensitivity. In general, the process of centralized planning adopted by many developing countries will require the approval of contracts be several functionaries at various subtle centres of power and authority. In many senses, this concept will require patience and an ability to deal with ambiguity. The fact of the matter is that decision-making is apt to be slow, without any demonstrable rational pattern. Of course, as has been noted elsewhere, there is always rationality at stake; it may simply be unnoticeable to one unfamiliar with the host culture. Finally, there is a need to build personal relationships with key people during the process. Trust is usually an important matter and a formal business-like negotiating style may not be sufficient to establish the kind of trusting relationship required in other cultures.
A basic requirement for effective conflict management and negotiation is to know as much as possible about the other culture(s). Although practical knowledge is preferable, research of the culture, norms, values, history, society etc. can be very helpful.
The most significant feature of good intercultural communications, as most cross-cultural sources will indicate, involves avoiding stereotypes. Although certain generalizations may be fairly assessed in regard to how certain cultures deal with communication, individual differences should always be considered as paramount. In fact, some cultural specialists suggest that all conflicts are intercultural to an extent, since each individual person has their own personal history and experience, their own set of beliefs, values and assumptions, and ultimately, their own set of "survival skills."
Some tips on how to...