A lot of Germans have or have had contact with the Turkish culture, either professionally or privately, which is why this country may no longer seem all that “different” to some people. But numerous testimonials from German-Turkish projects show that this may be a fallacy. This is why we’re addressing the Turkish culture and business world in today’s blog post, in addition to focusing specifically on the topic of negotiation management.
You presumably already know that hierarchical structures play a more important role in the Turkish business world and that communication tends to be more indirect. In today’s article, we’d like to take a closer look at a particular business situation that often leads to snags during international collaborations with Turks: negotiations.
Please keep in mind that Turks are usually interested in long-term [business] relationships and prefer to work with people they trust. Before the negotiation phase even begins, invest time in establishing mutual trust with your business partners. This will provide a good foundation for the later negotiation discussions.
Take your time!
You should also know that the negotiation phase in Turkey often spans several rounds, and individual sessions tend to last longer. On top of that, Turkish employees commonly have to confer with managers at a higher hierarchical level. These managers then make decisions that have to be passed on, which can also take time.
What this means for you is that you should plan plenty of time for the negotiation phase. Get to know your negotiation partners at an early stage [e.g., Who are they? What positions do they hold?] and always remain flexible. Spontaneous postponements, delays and changes to the agenda are not uncommon. These are in no way considered unprofessional in the Turkish culture; they rather reflect the cultural value that time and even precepts are relative in Turkey, and they’re accordingly handled flexibly.
Hierarchy, honor and tactics
In addition to the time factor, here are some other important things that will make your negotiations more successful:
- Prepare yourself for the fact that you’ll likely be interacting with different discussion partners. The initial getting-to-know-you phase is often held with hierarchically lower employees, while the actual decision-maker tends to enter the picture in a later negotiation phase.
- For many Turks, negotiating prices down is an important part of the process. By expressing new offers and/or other concessions, interest in the collaboration and the products is expressed and respect is shown to counterparts [seref]. Even though it may initially seem strange, join in. Since mutual respect and honor are firmly rooted in the Turkish culture, this procedure is crucial to your business transactions.
- Turkey is well known beyond its borders for other negotiation tactics as well. Targeted questioning techniques and the expression of emotions are considered common practice. Brace yourself for these and always try to bring things back to the interpersonal level. Keep in mind that your Turkish negotiation partners are also set on establishing a long-term business relationship.
Hopefully we’ve been able to give you some important tips for your next negotiations. Yet these tips should only be considered a rough outline, as there are many other important cultural values that have a major influence on daily [business] life in Turkey. We’d be happy to provide you with more information about cross-cultural competence to keep in mind during your international business contacts.