Why Pet Owners are Better International Negotiators

Tuesday, March 29, 2016, by Eliane Karsaklian

the-horsewhisperer-1496754-639x424One of the main issues in international negotiation is potential misunderstandings caused by communication gaps. Because communication is rooted in different languages, different habits, and different rules, we often find it difficult to communicate with people from other cultures.

Interestingly, most people are able to communicate with animals. Cats, dogs, hamsters, horses and so many other species can’t speak human language and definitely have different habits from humans. And yet, humans find a way of communicating with them and develop specific skills to decode what their pets ‘say’.

If communication between humans and animals is possible, why does it seem so hard for humans from different cultures? Two plausible explanations: a) humans are more willing to make an effort to understand their pets because there is affection between them; b) the effort is worthwhile to humans because they undertake a long term relationship with their pets. They establish rules for conviviality because they aim at living together for a long time.

On the other hand, people are unable to communicate with people from other cultures because they take other humans for granted. They think it is not worth the effort of trying to decode other ways of speaking and behaving and expect others to provide equal effort for mutual understanding. While nonverbal is inherent in animals’ communication, humans systematically overlook nonverbal cues in other humans’ communication. Interestingly, all they get from pets is company and affection. But what they get from businesspeople is business. It looks like businesspeople are not interested in investing time and energy to overcome communication issues to support a long-lasting relationship with other humans when it comes to business.

While humans have the ability to communicate with other species, countless business opportunities are missed because of cultural misunderstandings between people. Is it just a matter of willingness? Is it a matter of affection?

One could argue that it is also a matter of power. Humans train their pets and impose their rules on them. Although it is hard work and time consuming to come to terms with other communication patterns, humans do it spontaneously with other species. Just not with other humans.

As the new trend in international negotiation is more focused on relationship building, international negotiators would greatly benefit from earnestly seeking to understand cultural gaps in communication patterns. Humans can be prepared by other humans to face these intercultural challenges.

Or learn from their pets.

To know more, read The Intelligent International Negotiatior and visit: