Successful Cross Cultural Negotiation - Mexico

This video demonstrates a successful cross cultural negotiation you may encounter during your military career. Once you view this video, see how the unsuccessful negotiation went wrong and what you could do to ensure mission success while negotiating across cultures.
Video Transcript

[Captain McKown] We know you have a lot of other things to do while you're in country, so we really appreciate you taking the time to be--

[Narrator] Captain McKown and Lieutenant Franklin took the time to ensure that they were better prepared for this meeting with Major Diaz and Second Lieutenant Rivera by reaching out to Sergeant First Class Bialetti, who had a previously-established relationship with Major Diaz. Sergeant First Class Bialetti, also acting as the interpreter for the second meeting, served as a liaison to help mend the mistakes made in the first interaction.

[Major Diaz] Gentlemen, I like your taste in restaurants.

[Captain McKown] Buenos Tardes, Major Diaz.

[Narrator] In their first interaction, Captain McKown and Lieutenant Franklin made the mistake of turning down an offer to join their Mexican counterparts for lunch. However, in this scenario they have acknowledged the importance of sharing a meal before handling business. In the Mexican culture, few traditions illustrate how a relationship is valued as much as sharing a meal together.

[Major Diaz] Well those are the best anywhere, better than my grandmother's.

[Captain McKown] Buenos Tardes, Major Diaz.

[Narrator] It seems self-explanatory, but giving the proper space and time to begin and end all interactions with a handshake is regarded as the ultimate sign of respect in the Mexican culture.

[Sergeant First Class Bialetti] Gracias.

[Captain McKown] Gentlemen, let's have a seat.

[Second Lieutenant Rivera] De La Hoya in his prime could destroy Mayweather.

[Narrator] While it could seem like this conversation about boxing favorites is a waste of time, this kind of banter is extremely important in building rapport and comfort before a negotiation.

[Sergeant First Class Bialetti] You remember when Mayweather mocked us with that photo of him in the sombrero and the Mexican flag trunks? My father pin that photo to our dart board.


[Captain McKown] Again, my sincere apologies--

[Narrator]  By acknowledging the previous oversight of the training schedule conflicting with the national Mexican holiday, the US soldiers are continuing to illustrate that they respect their counterparts' culture and are better prepared for this negotiation.

[Major Diaz] As I mentioned in my proposal, Saturday is a very difficult--

[Captain McKown] Per regulation we have to authorize everyone through an extensive background check--

[Narrator] Captain McKown presents the difficult and necessary information that three of the Mexican army soldiers did not pass through the mandatory background check in order to participate in training. This time around, he is well prepared to deliver this information by checking with his leadership about whether or not there is still time to replace the soldiers. Coming to the table with an alternative and exploring all options available illustrates that Captain McKown and Lieutenant Franklin are focusing on interests rather than positions.

[Captain McKown] Major, we want this to be a successful partnership. We plan on holding a graduation ceremony for the soldiers once they finish the program of instruction.

[Narrator] By offering to host a graduation ceremony for the families, the US soldiers are also demonstrating their respect for the role of family in Mexican culture and further illustrating that they value this long-term relationship.

[Captain McKown] --with my leadership at NORTHCOM they have assured me that there'll be enough time to replace those three soldiers.

[Major Diaz] I do not understand why my soldiers were not--

[Narrator] It was because of the time taken early on in this meeting to build rapport our US soldiers are able to successfully navigate through a touchy moment in delivering bad news to Major Diaz. This again illustrates the importance of valuing the relationship and focusing on interests.

[Major Diaz] I wouldn't want anybody in my unit who does not love Oscar De La Hoya. [...] We have always admired the expertise the US brings to training--

[Narrator] Captain McKown and Lieutenant Franklin illustrate the ability to brainstorm alternative solutions and compromise when Major Diaz asks for something unexpected here. While Captain McKown is not able to promise anything, he does assure the Major that he will go to bat with his leadership in order to accommodate the Major's request. This ability to compromise is often critical to successful negotiation. It is absolutely necessary that this relationship is fostered by finding a win-win solution. [...] During this second negotiation the US has demonstrated their desire to foster a long-term relationship with their Mexican army counterparts. The US team paid careful attention to cultural considerations, spent the time necessary to properly prepare for this engagement, and demonstrated respect for their counterparts and their culture. Their attention to interests rather than positions allowed them to explore options for a win-win situation. The end result is a successful negotiation and a stronger relationship between these two counterparts.