by Dr. Piotr Jednaszewski
Teaching negotiations can be compared to teaching communication, that is developing such abilities as: speaking and listening - understanding a foreign language. It could be said that negotiations are just more goal orientated forms of communication.
Even the best prepared negotiators with regard to product and company presentation in all assumed and pre-assessed aspects of further international talks can fail through the lack of understanding the other party. The following is my definition of understanding based on research, talks with EFL teachers and negotiations with people from over 40 different countries all over the globe.
Understanding is based on the ability to follow and remember in the logically and individually organized way the heard pattern of symbols, words and phrases, in other words - all that is planned to be conveyed by the speaker. In short, understanding is based on the ability to link the received information logically.
On the contrary, misunderstanding comes with the lack of or inefficiency of such ability regardless of the source. Whereas the source may come from such factors as: false analysis and interpretation, personal over or underestimation of presented information and much less trivial factors like lack of understanding vocabulary, phrases, idioms or certain cultural or socio-cultural aspects deeply engraved in different societies all over the globe.
We teachers and lecturers of English as a foreign language negotiate with our students their engagement in different language projects, communication games and preparing them for final exams. We do also make them aware of English phrases and idioms, colloquial expressions and English culture. Hence how many of us realize that those well trained students might find it difficult to negotiate while meeting people from utterly different cultures, for whom understanding the same language. English, is more than a platform to convey words and ideas.
Coming back to the core of the article 'How to teach negotiations?', we should always bear in mind that there are a some aspects to be aware of while preparing students or managers for any type of negotiations:
All of the above mentioned aspects of negotiations can be broadly discussed. Whereas, I decided to present in this article the LINGUISTIC aspect which comes from the individual linguistic knowledge and ability to use it. Therefore it happens that people from lower to upper intermediate levels can make better negotiators than those having a higher language proficiency. Why? The answer is: SIMPLICITY. The more simple and transparent our language is, the better chance for being well understood. How many times does it happen that during the conversation and listening to someone, you are not really sure what he is saying, still understanding the words and phrases. Bankers and Financiers are often surprised during my negotiation lectures and workshops that difficult issues can be presented and discussed in a simple and approachable manner. Therefore, the art of communication is SIMPLICITY.
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