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Negotiating in Switzerland

When preparing for a business negotiation in another country, it is necessary to first thoroughly examine the countrys culture. A country that is slightly less than twice the size of New Jersey – Switzerland is inhabited by 8 million populates rich in culture. However, the country is even rich in languages as well, being that it is one of the few countries with multiple national languages. Actually, Switzerland actually has four national languages: German (spoken by almost 70% of the Swiss population), French, Italian, and Romansh (a language rooted from Latin that is basically a mixture etween German, French, and Italian).

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To the Swiss, it is considered unusual to speak only one of these languages. In fact, many Swiss speak 2 of these official languages plus English. Because the Swiss tend to be multilingual and are at ease with three or four languages, in business meetings everyone tends to speak in their mother tongue and it is Just assumed that they understand each other. The Swiss multilingualism along with its economic policy of free trade, low import duties and virtually no import quotas effortlessly draws attention to the country as a jackpot for international business.

However, it is critical that before pursuing an intercultural negotiation with the Swiss that the techniques in which they do business are properly researched. Entering into an intercultural negotiation without a clear understanding of or respect for the other culture reduces the success of the business deal because the two cultures will not understand each other. When negotiating with Switzerland, it is important for the United States to realize that even different regions of Switzerland use different business techniques.

For instance, generally speaking, when making a deal the German and French Swiss are onceptual, analytical thinkers who often rely on empirical evidence and have a tendency to use universal rules to solve problems; whereas the Italian Swiss tend to think associatively through subjective feelings and prefer to become personally involved in each situation. Albeit the Swiss have a diverse range of business styles ana tnougnt processes spread tnrougnout tne country, tne actual Duslness techniques executed throughout the country are pretty similar.

Although Switzerland is a low-context country like the United States, there are some differences in how these two countries accomplish business. Albeit that the Swiss For example, in the United States it is highly valued to have the ability to deal with unexpected events as they occur. In a country where unexpected events (such as Auburn’s game-winning touchdown) occur within 1 second of the final buzzer, it is valued of high importance to be able to overcome these unpredicted obstacles.

However, the Swiss value a very different approach to business – one that is orderly and thought-out through pre-planning and risk-aversion. Although the ability to deal with unexpected events is seen as an advantage in the United States, the Swiss view nexpected events as hazardous and a demonstration of lack of control. Consequently, in order to avoid these cultural differences and to successfully achieve a business deal, both countries must do the proper research.

Just as the Swiss have a slightly different business style than the United States, the Swiss also value things slightly differently as well. As opposed to attaining respect in the United States through accomplishments, networks, and hard work, the Swiss value earning authority and respect by being perceived to have relevant knowledge in relevant areas because technical knowledge and academic qualifications are both ighly respected. Additionally, the Swiss respect pragmatisms and unpretentiousness in their communication methods.

It is considered rude to boast (whether it be about business or not) and since it is important for the Swiss to feel involved in all business processes, the negotiation process has the possibility to come to a screeching halt if the Swiss think that negotiators seem dishonest or pretentious. Although there are some noticeable differences between the United States and Switzerland, there are also some major similarities. For example, Switzerland has had a law establishing equality between men and women since 1981. That being said, women are becoming more and more evident in the work force.

Although it is more difficult for a female Swiss resident to work her way up to senior positions, it isn’t difficult for a female foreign executive to go to Switzerland and work in senior positions provided that she has the correct qualifications. Thus, if the United States negotiates a business deal with Switzerland, it would be acceptable and respectable to send a woman to discuss the terms as long as she has all of the relevant knowledge. There are many other similarities between the business methods in the United States and Switzerland. For instance, in Switzerland punctuality is crucial.

However, running late (even five minutes early is considered late) is seen as more offensive to the Swiss than to Americans. This is because the Swiss like to immediately get down to business and do not base business on relationships. In fact, the Swiss completely separate business from their personal life. Also, being that Switzerland and the United States are low-context cultures, direct communication is expected and respected by both. However, this way of communication should not be confused with rudeness or aggression. The Swiss Just always say what they mean and mean what hey say. verall, e n te states ana swltzerlana aren’t tnat OITTerent Trom eacn otner wnen it comes down to business. Nevertheless, it is essential to be familiar with a host countrys culture and traditional business practices in order to successfully do business. Works Cited 1 . https://www. cia. gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/sz. html 2. http:// www. expatica. com/ch/essentials_moving_to/essentials/Doing-Business-in- Switzerland_11176. html 3. http://www. swissworld. org/en/economy/ international_context/trade/ 4. http://www. worldbusinessculture. com/swiss- Business-Negotiation. html

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