Future of Work

Negotiation tactics differ around the world. These charts will show you how to adapt your style

U.S. President Barack Obama (R) shakes hands with Cuba's President Raul Castro as they hold a bilateral meeting during the Summit of the Americas in Panama City April 11, 2015. Obama and Castro shook hands on Friday at the summit, a symbolically charged gesture as the pair seek to restore ties between the Cold War foes. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst      TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTR4WXZJ

Americans lay their cards on the table and resolve disagreements quickly. Image: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Gus Lubin
Senior Correspondent, Business Insider
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You can't expect negotiations with the French to be like negotiations with Americans, and the same holds true for every culture around the world.

British linguist Richard D. Lewis charted communication patterns as well as leadership styles and cultural identities in his book, "When Cultures Collide," which is now in a third edition. His organization offers classes in cross-cultural communication for clients like Unilever and BMW.

Although cultural generalizations can be overly reductive, Lewis, who speaks 10 languages, insists it can be done fairly. "Determining national characteristics is treading a minefield of inaccurate assessment and surprising exception. There is, however, such a thing as a national norm," he writes.

Scroll down to see Lewis' insights on negotiating with people around the world.

Jenna Goudreau contributed reporting.

Americans lay their cards on the table and resolve disagreements quickly with one or both sides making concessions.

Image: Richard Lewis Communications

Canadians are inclined to seek harmony but are similar to Americans in their directness.

Image: Richard Lewis Communications

People in the UK tend to avoid confrontation in an understated, mannered, and humorous style that can be either powerful or inefficient.

Image: Richard Lewis Communications

Germans rely on logic but "tend to amass more evidence and labor their points more than either the British or the French."

Image: Richard Lewis Communications

When meeting with the French, be prepared for a vigorous, logical debate.

Image: Richard Lewis Communications

Italians "regard their languages as instruments of eloquence" and take a verbose, flexible approach to negotiations.

Image: Richard Lewis Communications

Like Italians, Spaniards will "pull out every stop if need be to achieve greater expressiveness."

Image: Richard Lewis Communications

Among the Nordic countries, Swedes often have the most wide-ranging discussions.

Image: Richard Lewis Communications

Finns tend to value concision.

Image: Richard Lewis Communications

Most Norwegians fall somewhere in between Swedes and Finns.

Image: Richard Lewis Communications

The Swiss tend to be straightforward, nonaggressive negotiators. They obtain concessions by expressing confidence in the quality and value of their goods and services.

Image: Richard Lewis Communications

Hungarians value eloquence over logic and are unafraid to talk over each other.

Image: Richard Lewis Communications

Bulgarians may take a circuitous approach to negotiations before seeking a mutually beneficial resolution, which will often get screwed up by bureaucracy.

Image: Richard Lewis Communications

Poles often have a communication style that is "enigmatic, ranging from a matter-of-fact pragmatic style to a wordy, sentimental, romantic approach to any given subject."

Image: Richard Lewis Communications

The Dutch are focused on facts and figures but "are also great talkers and rarely make final decisions without a long 'Dutch' debate, sometimes approaching the danger zone of over-analysis."

Image: Richard Lewis Communications

The Chinese tend to be more direct than the Japanese and some other East Asians. However, meetings are principally for information gathering, with the real decisions made elsewhere.

Image: Richard Lewis Communications

People in Hong Kong negotiate much more briskly to achieve quick results.

Image: Richard Lewis Communications

The Indian English "excel in ambiguity, and such things as truth and appearances are often subject to negotiation."

Image: Richard Lewis Communications

Australians tend to have a loose and frank conversational style.

Image: Richard Lewis Communications

Singaporeans generally take time to build a relationship, after which they can be shrewd negotiators.

Image: Richard Lewis Communications

Koreans tend to be energetic conversationalists who seek to close deals quickly, occasionally stretching the truth.

Image: Richard Lewis Communications

Indonesians tend to be very deferential conversationalists, sometimes to the point of ambiguity.

Image: Richard Lewis Communications

Israelis tend to proceed logically on most issues but emotionally on some.

Image: Richard Lewis Communications
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