In today’s globalized economy you could be negotiating a joint venture in China, an outsourcing agreement in India, or a supplier contract in Sweden. If so, you might find yourself working with very different norms of communication. What gets you to “yes” in one culture gets you to “no” in another. To be effective, a negotiator must have a sense of how his counterpart is reacting. Does she want to cooperate? Is she eager, frustrated, doubtful? If you take stock of subtle messages, you can adjust your own behavior accordingly. In an international negotiation, however, you may not have the contextual understanding to interpret your counterpart’s communication—especially unspoken signals—accurately.
Harvard Business Review