American Negotiating Style: Part 4

I recently found a blog post that summarizes some useful negotiation lessons. The blog is entitled Your “Tools for Success in the United States.”

The five-part guidance for the first-time negotiator in the Unites States is informative about what to watch out for and what not to do. I have listed the guidelines along with comments from people with experience in negotiating with Americans. I have also added a section on “Preparation.”

  • Sense of Urgency–Quick results


“It is important to be clear and direct when negotiating with Americans.” (Sherk)

“Turkish people, like many Asian cultures, may not explicitly state what they really want to say but expect people to understand immediately. This is why Turkish people in negotiations with Americans have to be clear about what they say. When Americans say “No” they mean it as an absolute answer. However, some Turkish people, when they are asked a question, if they answer “No” they might expect an American to ask again. But Americans do not ask the second time. They accept No as No. Americans give importance to punctuality. Thus, you have to be on time for appointments and meetings.” (Conka)

“Be prepared for the clash between the long- and short-term outlook.” (Mehta)

“America is a large diverse country with many regional sub-cultures. Although Americans are generally friendly, it is sometimes important to learn if your opposite number is someone who wishes to be very direct.” (Sherk)

  • Informality–


“In the informal negotiations I have observed–especially between tourists and shopkeepers–Americans like to feel special, like VIPs. When they are treated this way they seem to be more open to doing business (and spending money) because they feel others have recognized their importance and can be trusted.” (Alebouni)

“The most important thing to remember about International negotiations is that personal relationships are paramount.” (Mehta)

  • Status–Prejudging the abilities and authorities of your opposite number.


“Anyone negotiating with an American needs to know the scope of the American’s authority.  You should determine whether or not the American can enter into an agreement. ” (Sherk) 

“Best path to conflict resolution lies in negotiations between the two parties based on reasoning over gesture politics and misguided symbolism.” (Mehta)

“In negotiating with Americans for the first time, Turkish people should be sincere, but not exaggerate intimacy. Some Turkish people think that showing too much sincerity might help them obtain a good negotiated result. In negotiating with Americans, if you do not know the subject you should say so. You should not promise the things that you cannot make happen.” (Conka)

“Be aware of cultural sensitivities. Americans should try taking off their ‘American Hat.'” (Mehta)

  • Silence–Use silence as a strategy


“It is important to not insist on something if you can tell that Americans are not interested. This may be see as too assertive.” (Conka)

  • Interruption–Breaking into a conversation can show engagement but also may seem rude.


Active listening is very important. It is a skill.” (Sherk)

  • Preparation–Being prepared for the negotiation is very important.


“Plan how you will aim for a win-win solution.” (Mehta)

“In formal negotiations Americans are often very prepared and know the facts of a situation. But they may miss cultural clues. It is important for you to know the facts of a problem and the limits of your bargaining position.” (Sherk)

“Because Americans like plans with time frames, it would be an advantage for a business person to give an overview about time-sensitive aspects of their project.” (Conka)

The Commenters

Sevil Conka, Ph.D. Istanbul, Turkey. Road Scholar Guide

Gabi Alebouni, M.Div. Jerusalem, Israel. Area Director for Middle East and North Africa, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

George William Sherk, D.Sc., J.D. Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Sarosh Mehta, MIM from Thunderbird Graduate School of Global Management (Arizona State University), Retired. Brisbane, Australia

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