Archive for November, 2007

Negotiating Across Cultures Like a Genius

Saturday, November 24th, 2007

Many of us think that good negotiating requires special talent.  Two Harvard Business School professors beg to differ.  As Deepak Malhotra and Max H. Bazerman explain in their recent release Negotiation Genius:  How to Overcome Obstacles and Achieve Brilliant Results at the Bargaining Table and Beyond,  anyone can learn systematic strategies to negotiation success.

The authors describe in detail how to claim and create value in negotiation, how to use strategies of influence, and the like.  Lawyers will hearken back to law school when the authors use the case study method as a teaching tool.

Although the book doesn’t delve deeply into cross-cultural negotiation, it does emphasize the importance of building trust between the parties–particularly in the cross-cultural context.  The authors also discuss negotiation strategies used by diplomats; high level diplomats recognize the importance of, and gathering relevant data in anticipation of, the future.  In contrast, the authors note, most negotiators focus too much on current issues and fail to look forward.


During an email exchange with Deepak Malhotra, he shared some additional thoughts about international negotiations.  First, I asked him whether there were any specific resources that he recommended about building cross-cultural negotiation skills.  He replied,  “I have yet to read a book on cross-cultural negotiation skills that has impressed me. Part of the problem is that there are too many differences across cultures, and often there are many different cultures across industries within the same country. As a result, broad (and even moderately broad) generalizations do not help much. The best resource is talking to people who have negotiated in the part of the world you’re now entering. And, even if you don’t have access to any such person, there’s nothing wrong with having a candid conversation with your counterpart in the negotiation about their (and your) perspectives and expectations.”


Second, I asked him to identify the biggest mistakes that US negotiators make during cross-cultural business negotiations, and how to avoid such mistakes.  Deepak Malhotra answered: “For the most part, gone are the days when US negotiators were so ethnocentric that they walked into a negotiation in another country assuming that everyone shares their norms and values. However, two mistakes are still quite frequent. First, many negotiators rely on stereotypes and broad generalizations regarding how ‘people in that country’ negotiate. Many of these beliefs are anchored in decades old anecdotes and folk wisdom that have not been sufficiently updated and are not particularly nuanced. Second, negotiators spend too little time on ‘cultural differences’ other than those that relate to norms and values. For example, too little time is spent understanding structural problems that can arise in a foreign country such as (1) how easy is it to run a business in that country, (2) how strong and reliable are the legal institutions in that country, (3) how much of a role does the government play in business negotiations (e.g., by controlling permits), (4) how reliable is the infrastructure (e.g., roads, communication, etc.) in that country, etc. These elements, when they are not anticipated, can entirely derail otherwise well-conceived deal.” 


Great point.  As any international business lawyer knows, such “structural problems” often make or break the deal.Many thanks to Deepak Malhotra for sharing his wisdom.  





More Info. on Launching a Lawyer Blog as a Marketing Tool

Saturday, November 17th, 2007

As mentioned in my prior post on How Blogging Can Help International Lawyers (Estabished or Aspiring), writing a blog can be an additional tool in a lawyer’s marketing toolkit.  For those lawyers who are interested in starting a blog but still want more information, refer to Greg Siskind’s Lawyer Blogging:  An Introduction , as it appears in Law Practice Today. As the co-author of the ABA’s Lawyer’s Guide to Marketing on the Internet, Greg is a big fan of blogging–so much so that he actually writes more than one immigration blog!

International Attorneys Using MySpace

Friday, November 16th, 2007

In her article titled Network Your Way to an International Law Practice–A Roadmap to Global Client Development, Christy Burke shares some good tips for advertising your international practice.  For example, she recommends being listed not only in the prosessional networking site LinkedIn, but also in social networking sites like MySpace and FaceBook.  She recounts how one immigration lawyer has actually attracted new clients through MySpace. Profiling yourself on those sites can’t hurt; after all, it’s free internet advertising…

Tips on Business Negotiations with Japanese

Tuesday, November 13th, 2007

Fellow international attorney Ed Lebow and I met last year at an international law conference.  Ed has spent a lot of time both negotiating for Japanese clients and against Japanese counterparts.  As a former Assistant General Counsel of the U.S. International Trade Commission, and now a member of Haynes & Boone’s International Trade and Customs Practice Group in Washington, D.C., Ed has had over 20 years’ experience in major Antidumping, Countervailing Duty and Section 337 cases.

Ed, a Japanese speaker and Japanophile, shares some tips with non-Japanese lawyers and businesspersons about how to negotiate with the Japanese.  Click here to read his Cross-Cultural Reflections on Negotiating with Japanese Businessmen.pdf.

Thank you for sharing your insights, Ed!

World Directory of ADR Blogs; Podcast with ADR Insights from Different Cultures

Sunday, November 11th, 2007

Now there’s one-top shopping for finding ADR information.  Look no further than the World Directory of Alternative Dispute Resolution Blogs compiled by mediator and blogger Diane Levin. If you have an ADR inquiry, there’s bound to be a blog listed that addresses your issue.

Speaking of International ADR, this past week Diane Levin blogged about new podcast series by the International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution (CPR).  Titled International Dispute Negotiation, the podcasts discuss how professionals from different cultures approach ADR; they are hosted by Michael McIlwrath, Senior Counsel, Litigation for GE Infrastructure – Oil & Gas, both from his Florence, Italy home base and from the road.  (What a great home base, Michael!)

Thanks to Dan Hull’s What about the Clients? for having alerted me to this topic.