Enhancing Intercultural Communication Skills through Negotiations
Our most recent Faculty Showcase featured Phoenix Chi from the Sturm College of Law. Phoenix shared examples from her Drafting and Negotiations in an International Business Context course, where one of the main goals is to help students improve their cultural competency in communicating with others.
This class is run as a simulation, where students take on the role of negotiators from Coors Brewery in Colorado and a small beer company in Singapore. Students negotiate the terms of this transaction and grapple with cultural issues along the way.
Phoenix borrows from other disciplines to help inform her work. In this session she shared Stella Ting-Toomey’s framework for Communicating Interculturally, a text written for Social Work students. Faculty participants shared and discussed examples of different cultural norms from countries around the world.
Phoenix runs role play negotiations during the course to give students practice negotiating between cultures. She will freeze the action at certain points to debrief the process. The end result is a focus on skill development and and understanding cultural differences, not just on “winning” or getting your own way. Legal drafting is a difficult skill that is very new to many law students. Students tend to appreciate that Phoenix makes room for intercultural issues within this very technical course.
In this course, Phoenix feels that students from diverse cultural backgrounds can improve their verbal (negotiation) and writing (legal drafting) skills by mindfully analyzing their communications. She cautions that no one is ever fully inter culturally fluent, but that we can strive to be culturally competent. And she has heard from employers, saying they appreciate hiring students with this type of practice.