The Dos and Don’ts
Last Thursday, I was privileged talking to Leaders in the nations Oil and gas industry about winning oil and gas contracts and how it can vary significantly depending on the country and its culture.
Here are some dos and don’ts to consider, taking into account cultural peculiarities and their impact on negotiations:
*1. **Cultural Awareness**: Research and understand the cultural norms, values, and business etiquette of the country you’re negotiating with. Show respect for their culture in your interactions.
2. **Relationship Building**: In many cultures, building trust and establishing strong personal relationships is crucial. Invest time in getting to know your potential partners or clients.
3. **Local Partnerships**: Consider forming partnerships with local companies or individuals who have a deep understanding of the local culture, market, and regulatory landscape.
4. **Adapt Communication**: Tailor your communication style to be in line with local customs. This includes language, tone, and even non-verbal cues.
5. **Patience**: Be patient during negotiations, as some cultures may prefer a slower, more deliberative approach.
6. **Gift Giving**: In some cultures, gift-giving is a common practice. Ensure that any gifts you offer are culturally appropriate and not seen as bribes.
7. **Face-saving**: Avoid causing embarrassment or loss of face to your counterparts, as this can be highly detrimental to negotiations.
8. **Local Content Commitment**: Emphasize your commitment to hiring locally and supporting the local economy, as this can be a significant factor in some countries.
We discussed extensively too the Don’ts and I have enumerated below some of our conclusions
*1. **Assuming Universality**: Don’t assume that business practices that work in one culture will work everywhere. What’s considered normal in one country may be seen as offensive in another.
2. **Disregarding Hierarchy**: In hierarchical cultures, it’s essential to respect authority and seniority. Avoid challenging or disrespecting senior officials.
3. **Being Overly Direct**: In some cultures, direct communication can be perceived as rude. Use a more indirect, diplomatic approach when necessary.
4. **Impatience**: Avoid rushing negotiations or pushing for quick decisions, as this may be seen as disrespectful in certain cultures.
5. **Cultural Insensitivity**: Don’t make jokes or comments that could be culturally insensitive or offensive
6. **Assuming English Proficiency**: If English is not the primary language, don’t assume that everyone is proficient in it. Provide translated materials and interpretation services when needed.
7. **Ignoring Gift Etiquette**: Be cautious with gift-giving; some cultures have specific rules and expectations regarding gifts.
8. **Lack of Adaptation**: Failing to adapt to local customs and traditions can damage your reputation and hinder successful negotiations.
In summary, winning oil and gas contracts across different cultures requires a high degree of cultural sensitivity, adaptability, and patience. Understanding and respecting the local culture can be as important as technical expertise in these negotiations.