1. Do your homework about your supplier’s culture. Through reading and conversations with those who know the country concerned, you can learn a lot. Don’t overlook your suppliers as sources of information about their culture. They will usually welcome your interest.

2. Show respect for cultural differences. Inexperienced negotiators tend to belittle unfamiliar cultural practices. It is far better to seek to understand the value system at work and to construct a problem-solving conversation about any difficulties that unfamiliar customs pose.

3. Be aware of how others may perceive your culture. You are as influenced by your culture as your counterpart is by his. Try to see how your behavior, attitudes, norms, and values appear to your foreign supplier.

4. Find ways to bridge the culture gap. Cultural differences create a divide between you and your suppliers. Constantly search for ways to bridge that gap. A first step in bridge building requires you and your suppliers to find something in common, such as a shared experience, interest, or goal.

Jean-Baptiste DEAL

Founder, Avant Agents