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Best of 2014: Communication Charts Help You Negotiate In Different Cultures

Best of 2014: Communication Charts Help You Negotiate In Different Cultures

British linguist Richard D. Lewis created diagrams that capture negotiating characteristics across 27 different countries

Kristen Nozell


Culture shock is at times an unfortunate reality of international travel. The surprises that arise when immersed in another culture are part of the adventure, but when conducting business abroad, cultural misunderstandings can lead to unsuccessful negotiations. Renowned British linguist Richard D. Lewis attempted to provide a solution for this issue by charting the typical negotiating techniques in nearly thirty countries around the world.

Lewis, who brought the popular language school Berlitz to East Asia, Portugal and Finland, is the founder of Richard Lewis Communications, which provides cross-culture communication services and training to individuals and organizations around the world. The communication charts he created are featured in his book When Cultures Collide, first published in 1996. These diagrams use width to indicate the range of conversation, and grey blocks to mark a potential obstacle. Culture-specific behaviors are noted as well, resulting in a fairly comprehensive, if generalized, picture of each country’s communication habits.

Americans, for example, like to lay all the cards on the table and reach a conclusion as soon as possible, although sarcasm and provocation could provide roadblocks. Italians, on the other hand, begin with a verbose approach that may cause miscomprehension, only leading to increased verbosity. Check out the full set of diagrams below, and click here to enlarge.

negotiate communication charts

When Cultures Collide

Source: Business Insider

(Originally published Apr 1, 2014)

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