The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

John Cho '22 RGLP Reflection:

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“I think that one of the most important things that I have learned at RGLP is that intercultural communication is a give and take that requires both ambiguity and adaptation. Before this program, I genuinely believed that there was one right way to interact with people, both familiar and foreign, and that one right way was my way. I had to simply struggle my way through every intercultural interaction, hoping that by pure chance that we would get along. If someone else was just as strong-headed as I was, then that would mean that problems would arise. However, we had the chance to learn about our own intercultural conflict styles, which allowed me to get a better understanding of my own style of negotiation and how well that fit in with other people’s negotiation styles. Even as I was able to characterize my own negotiation style, there was still an element missing, however.

 

Now, I have learned that just knowing one’s negotiation style is not enough, but rather it also requires a give and take between different relevant negotiation styles. This is especially pertinent because it is not always certain that one’s negotiation styles will match another person’s. Nowhere was this lesson more relevant than the roleplay activity we did in selling computers to the Sharahadians. When faced with a situation full of cultural ambiguity, I did not force my usual strategy of plowing straight through the meeting. Rather, utilizing the lessons I learned in all of the previous lessons of RGLP, I decided that I had to adapt my negotiation style in order to accommodate them and have a productive meeting. At the same time, this did not mean that I would just lose my entire intercultural conflict and negotiation style and become a complete chameleon just to accommodate other people. I knew that it was important in order to strike a balance between staying true to your own identity and negotiation style, while being flexible enough to bend in whatever direction a particular negotiation required you to go. That is what I believe is the most important part about dealing with cultural ambiguity – it requires often innovative solutions and compromises, but it will never be boring.”

 

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