What are the biggest misunderstandings about negotiations

Specialist magazine for the managers of the associations

Author: Prof. Dr. Nello Gaspardo, Reutlingen University of Applied Sciences
Association report 04/99, on May 10, 1999

The term negotiation includes the word action, and negotiate the verb act. The negotiation thus implies an active and goal-oriented communication between at least two partners, negotiators, also called negotiating partners. A good negotiator should be a keen observer, an attentive listener, and a convincing speaker. Accurate observation of the other person allows him to perceive non-verbal signals and to interpret them situationally. Careful listening gives him the opportunity to understand his interlocutor as well as possible. His rhetorical skills ultimately enable him to optimally shape the communicative process.

Intercultural competence required

In international negotiations, however, a number of other culture-related factors play an important role in addition to the negotiating skills, experience and communication skills of the negotiators. A well-conducted international negotiation requires a certain knowledge of the mentality, way of thinking, customs and other cultural factors of the country. Without confronting the culture of the host country or the host region, for example, the negotiation turns out to be more difficult, even for experienced negotiators.

The concept of culture can be understood as the totality of the intellectual and artistic expression of life of a society, of a people (art, history, language, music, etc.), intellectual and spiritual education, refined way of life. The culture is also represented like an iceberg (1/8 visible, 7/8 invisible) in conscious and unconscious aspects. Among the conscious, visible and audible cultural aspects one finds language, music, gastronomy, history, literature, philosophy, religion, art, folklore, customs, manners, behavior, etc. Among unconscious, hidden cultural aspects one finds non-verbal communication (gestures, Facial expressions, posture), communication styles, philosophy of life, etc.

How are cultural differences expressed?

The visible cultural aspects are easier to identify and perceive than the hidden ones, which are usually more difficult to discover and can therefore represent some obstacles to understanding. In relation to a certain nation, society, but also organization and group, culture can be understood as a member-specific orientation system. This influences the perception, thinking, judging and behavior of all persons who belong to the respective social system.

Central features of such an orientation system are cultural standards that determine how a given situation is to be perceived and assessed and how to react appropriately to it. Deviations from the norm value specified in the respective culture standard lead - taking into account certain deviation tolerances - to astonishment, foreign experiences and even rejection. If two people meet who have developed different cultural standards for the interpretation of certain situations, they will inevitably orient themselves to the cultural standards they are familiar with and thus misinterpret the behavior of the partner, perceive it as incomprehensible and strange and, under certain circumstances, as familiar to them Deviating from the standard reject.

Central cultural standards are characteristics typical of culture, according to which members of a culture control and evaluate their own behavior and that of strangers. Cultural standards therefore serve as a guide. They indicate whether a behavior, an opinion or an emotional reaction is to be regarded as normal, typical or just about to be accepted, or as unusual, strange or abnormal. Those who know foreign cultural standards can adjust to the behavior of strangers more precisely, understand it better and can deal with them more easily.

Intercultural communication

You cannot talk about international negotiations without taking a look at the concept of communication. Communication is understood to mean understanding when dealing with one another. Communication is the expression of information, messages and content, which in turn are shaped by the person of the sender, which the recipient cannot always fully grasp. The problem of communication does not only consist in the content, but also in the relationship aspect. Communication has less to do with sending messages than with triggering responses. It is more about getting the right reactions than sending the right messages. These communication difficulties are an indication of the different interpretations of a message, which can be traced back to the culture-related perceptions.

The language

The most important, if not the only means of communication for humans is language. Verbal and written communication is based on three elements, namely: syntax, semantics and pragmatics. They are essential components of communication and language.

The negotiator using a foreign language to negotiate may encounter some communication problems in all three of the above areas. Good knowledge, especially of semantics, is required. It is known that humans influence their mother tongue. However, with its structure and rules, language also has an influence on the way people think. Nominalistic German is well known, for example, for its directness, precision and compound words. The languages ​​derived from Latin are more verbalistic and have hardly any compound words (compound words). They contain more periphrases, which in turn are very suitable for narratives and descriptions.

These languages, especially Italian, have a high degree of expressiveness, which leads to the ability to compare adjectives and nouns to the subtle and very differentiated degree of object descriptions. That sounds rather exaggerated to German ears. It is not uncommon for these cultures to misunderstand linguistic expressions and speaking times.

Different 'start-up times'

Stereotypically speaking, German negotiators think that Southern Europeans and Latin Americans talk too much and take too long to get to the point. Conversely, her colleagues argue with the hidden charge that German negotiators are far too direct and very quick in media res walk.

The feeling of the Chinese and Japanese regarding the German directness in negotiations is even more pronounced. Germans, but also other Europeans and Americans, believe that some Asian negotiators were hesitant to get down to business. Linguistic misunderstandings can also arise in communication between Germans and French, which can be traced back to the direct or indirect nature of the conversation.

From a German point of view (generalization obligated) Italian, but also Spanish or South American negotiators tend to verbal exaggerations. This determination depends, among other things, on the linguistic expressions of the Romance language - especially the Italian language, which show a multitude of variations in the use of the enlargement, diminution and deterioration of nouns and names.

German and English show a remarkably wide range of verbs which, with the help of prefixes and suffixes (prefixes and suffixes), lead to a typical “German” precision. An interpreter for German, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian has great difficulty translating certain German verbs concisely and concisely. The verb to cut has the same semantic meaning in these Romance languages. However, as soon as prefixes or suffixes appear, the interpreter looks for some explanations primarily in the context of the periphrases, which in turn increase the degree of ambiguity. Example: The prefixes or suffixes of the verb cut, such as ab-cut, be-cut, ver-cut, bis-cut, pre-cut, after-cut, through-cut, auf-cut, cut-out, etc. change the meaning and increase the level of precision of the statement.

The Germans express themselves precisely, briefly and unequivocally in this regard, while the Latinos, on the other hand, need more terms when describing them. This difference alone can - especially among inexperienced negotiators - lead to a certain impatience, because the German gets to the point faster and more directly than his counterparts, who need a little more time to get to their goal due to their relatively high use of peripheral phrases .

German negotiators, on the other hand, are not particularly familiar with flowery languages. The different linguistic structures can cause negative general judgments / stereotyping with regard to the directness and concreteness of the conversations.

In addition, the German language has the ability to form compound words. These characteristics reduce the number of terms and underline the accuracy of the statements. Seen in this way, German is a very rational language. You can say a lot in a short time. Even if, for example, Italians / Spaniards / French and Germans negotiate in English, there is a tendency to use their mother tongue first.

The attitude towards the territory and space

When it comes to communication between people, space also plays an important role. What is meant here is the attitude of a culture towards the territory, which in turn facilitates or impedes contact between individuals. Every living being is physically separated from its external environment. Outside of that physical limit there is a non-physical one - harder to find - but just as real as the physical limit.

It is the "territory" of a living being. “Territoriality” means claiming and defending an area for oneself. This feeling is highly developed in humans. The extent to which it is expressed in the individual depends, among other things, on the respective culture: it is very strong for Germans, somewhat weaker for Americans and even weaker for Southern Europeans or Latin Americans. In addition to the territory, each person also claims personal space for himself. In the cultures of Northern Europe with weak group relationships and weak information networks - what is meant is the spontaneous horizontal communication between people - every person lives as if in an invisible "air bubble" that corresponds to their relationship to other people, their respective feelings, their cultural background and their respective activities sometimes bigger and sometimes smaller. This variable personal space is a "sanctuary". Few are allowed to enter, even if, only for a short time. If this space is narrowed because you are cooped up or because someone is “getting on your skin”, you feel uncomfortable in your skin and become aggressive.

Different perception of space

The reactions that spatial signals trigger in humans often vary from country to country. In some sociable cultures, crowds with everyone nudging and poking each other are perfectly normal. In other countries people shy away from physical contact. Early on in their childhood they learn to “control themselves” and not to touch others. Sometimes it is only because of the different understanding of space that the behavior of a foreigner appears aggressive or inconsiderate to us.

The flow of information

A negotiator who has to negotiate in a foreign country not only needs good preparation about the matter, but also information about the country, the institution, the company, and if possible also about the person with whom the negotiations are taking place. It is not always and not easily that you can get the information you want in good time. It is not only due to their availability, but also to the information context of the cultural area.

Culturally determined differences in the flow of information are often the greatest obstacles to international understanding. Every businessman active abroad should know where the information is going, whether it flows unhindered within society and the company, or whether it has to be channeled through narrow channels due to technical responsibilities. Knowing about attitudes towards the flow of information and the speed with which information spreads in a country is of the utmost importance for international negotiation and intercultural management.

Different information flows

E.T. Hall and M. Reed Hall speak of a weak and a strong flow of information. In the northern European countries, especially in Germany - where there is predominantly a weak flow of information - each must have its own order. The dot should not be missing on any "i". Nothing is overlooked, nothing is left to the imagination. Everything is precisely regulated. There is little individual leeway. A flood of detailed information pours over the people. Communication usually takes place according to the inductive method (in the manner of induction leading from the individual to the general). The available information channels are correspondingly overloaded. In order to process the vast amount of individual information, the following prerequisites are required: The information must be arranged. Everything has to be planned carefully to avoid disruptions and loss of information. For better concentration, you have to shield yourself spatially and temporally from others. Finally, any influencing of the information by interruptions or distractions must be prevented in order to avoid breaking the chains of action due to errors.

All of this leads to the fact that where the information is well prepared and formal, one even comes across double doors and constantly overloaded diaries. Thick walls, closed doors and full schedules make it difficult - literally and figuratively - to have access to other people. Conversations and negotiations are based very much on the verbal component, on the accuracy of the statement and on the maintenance of the terms, because the spoken word is the most important component of the conversation. For this reason, the direct and explicit language and the inductive method dominate the entire communication, which is preferred by German and American negotiators.

In cultures with a high flow of information everything is exactly the opposite. The people there do not divide their time so much, have a dense information network and do not shield themselves to the same extent against disruptive environmental influences. The information flows freely and stored information is more important than transmitted information. The people are very well informed about everything and therefore do not have to be informed about the background for each new process. Nobody is a specialist in the narrow sense of the word, but everyone knows. You're in constant contact with each other. Schedules and protective measures would only disrupt this vital contact. Therefore little use is made of it. Interpersonal contacts and the right relationships are more important there than anything else. Southern European, Arab and Latin American peoples show a pronounced flow of information. Rather, many businesses are created through personal contacts and less through an orderly and manageable flow of information. Sympathy and antipathy play an important role here. The most important decisions often take place outside the intended premises and the planned negotiation dates.

Direct and indirect communication

Discussions and negotiations with business partners from these cultures are mainly carried out using the deductive method. The language is more implicit and indirect. While in Germany or the USA the indirect communicative approach is not an adequate means of communication for a good and fast course of the negotiation, the correct decoding of the linguistic coding in Japan or in China is of the utmost importance for the course of the entire negotiation process. Obtaining information, personal contacts and the ability to analyze and understand non-verbal and indirect signals from the negotiator play a decisive role here.

The polychronic and monochronous way of thinking and proceeding and the attitude towards the time

A topic can be presented in different ways. Depending on personal as well as cultural characteristics, the negotiators show different methods of dealing with issues. A distinction is made between two main approaches: the structured, particularistic / linear and ordered way of reasoning and the holistic / holistic and rather unsystematic treatment of arguments. According to E. Hall and M. Reed Hall these two procedures are also represented as monochronous or polychronic behavior in relation to time.

Linear, monochronous treatment of themes

The structured, linear, particularistic and monochronous treatment of topics is a typical behavior of a person with a pronounced sense of rationality, performance and linearity in his argumentation. His train of thought does not deviate from the straight path that should lead him to the goal.Without further ado, he calls things by their names, facts, prices or technical data count. The personal relationship with the negotiating partner plays a subordinate role, it can even be perceived as a waste of time. Linearity stands for: sobriety, objectivity, seriousness, orderliness and less flexibility. The non-verbal communication is not particularly pronounced. The focus of the negotiation is clear argumentation and clear language. So the word is more important than the non-verbal signals. In his communication and negotiation style, the particularistic, orderly, systematic and chronological way of thinking is in the foreground. The other negotiating partners also want a similar way of reasoning.

In terms of time, the negotiator shows monochronous behavior. His linear system usually leads to carefully detailed planning, he attaches great importance to punctuality and prefers a well-timed working method. Only one activity is performed at a time. In the communication and decision-making process, polychromatic people are more prudent and deliberate. The monochronous behavior corresponds to the system of order for the organization of human life, a system that played a decisive role in the industrialization of Western countries.

In the western world, especially in the USA and in Central Europe, the division of time rules with an iron hand. From a cultural point of view, the people who divide time include Americans and Germans as well as other northern European peoples and in some respects the Japanese. From a global point of view, the western-style school system and corporate culture tend to prefer the linear way of working. This in no way means the uniformity of personal characteristics, but rather the acceptance of a system geared towards efficiency.

Holistic, polychromatic treatment of topics

The holistic / holistic and polychronic topic treatment, on the other hand, allows a certain tolerance of ambiguity. This is the typical behavior of a person with a strong sense of personal relationship and eloquence. A more or less pronounced ambiguity could be hidden in his communication or negotiation behavior. The speaker pursues several lines of thought and detours that lead to the goal. In this non-linear treatment of topics, personal and cultural factors can be of great importance.

In terms of time, polychronic behavior shows a pronounced division of time. For these people, interpersonal relationships mean a lot; dealing with people is more important to them than sticking to any schedules. Appointments are not given too much importance. They are often changed again up to the last minute. In the shops and in the markets, everything is crowded around the sellers. It is not served one after the other, you push and nudge. It's haywire and very loud.

The different sense of time can lead to tension between the business partners. The term punctuality seems to be subject to different cultural interpretations. Stereotypically speaking, negotiators in certain cultures do not place the same value on the time.

Different languages ​​of time

Although time is of central importance in all cultures, each culture has its own language of time. Time influences people's rhythm of life, which can be slower or faster depending on the culture. This, in turn, can connect or isolate people, they can run synchronously or asynchronously. The time speaks, with an accent. Each culture has its own unique temporal fingerprints. To know a people means to know the time values ​​with which it lives. People in regions with a thriving economy, a high degree of industrialization, a larger population, a cooler climate and a cultural orientation geared towards individualism tend to move faster. So it can be said that the pace generally also depends on the prosperity of a society.

The healthier a place's economy, the faster its pace of work. The most important determinant of the pace that prevails in a place is the economy. Places with well-functioning economies tend to have a faster pace. The fastest people are found in the rich North American, Northern European and Asian nations, the slowest in third world countries, especially in South and Central America and the Middle East.

The international negotiator must therefore have the ability to move in different rhythms of life. It would certainly not be the right means to force people to follow their own rhythm of life or their own sense of time. People with a slow pace of life feel pressured when they meet others who are used to a faster pace. On the other hand, people do not become calmer when they feel restrained in their urge to work by others.

The French and Italians often complain that their American negotiators tend to be impatient. You feel pressured by them. Conversely, Americans complain more often that French, Italian, and Latin American negotiators take too long to make decisions. The difference between Americans and Japanese seems to be even more blatant. The relationships with customers and business partners are also very important to polychronic people. The time is used for several activities at the same time, the actions overlap. When negotiating, these people show a holistic, global and rather unsystematic way of thinking. You are more likely to grasp individual points and are suddenly able to understand the whole context. The polychronic and holistic behavior is most widespread in the regions of South America, the Mediterranean and the Middle East. The polychronic negotiating partner shows pronounced non-verbal communication. Facial expressions and gestures play an important role here because they and the bare terminology contain the true intentions.

The Anglo-Saxons generally prefer linear and sober arguments. Interruptions and unsystematic handling of topics are usually perceived as impolite. The verbally much more active South Americans or Southern Europeans go far beyond that. Interruptions and digressions are normal conversations. The relationship to time hides a potential for conflict, because when two personalities meet, in most cases there is inevitably a mutual incomprehension.

Such a meeting at the workplace can be particularly explosive: polychronic and monochronous people in the same office or at the same negotiating table do not always get along.

This general distinction between monochronous and polychronic people should not be interpreted as an absolute and static quantity. There are numerous mixed forms among humans. Not every polychronic person has a good - not every monochronous person has a bad sense of time. Everyone has both components. What is important here is the dominance of some of the elements that shape the communication and behavior of a negotiator. Especially with people with a pronounced dominance of poly- or monochronous behavior, careful observation and attentive listening are required. The external appearance, the physical movement or the sense of order provide the negotiating partner with a wealth of elements that enable them to get to know the other person better. Active listening provides a number of verbal signals about the attitudes and behavior of the negotiating partner. However, it is warned against dividing people into two categories with negative and positive attributes. There must be no distinction between pedants and chaos. The noticeable differences should serve as a valuable indicator to use the appropriate communicative approach. It is recommended to use the different characteristics as a suitable complementarity of communicative behavior in order to eliminate destructive a priori prejudices.

Some negotiating styles internationally

The American style of negotiation is characterized by a number of characteristics that are closely related to the US national image. Individualism, emphasis on competence, decision making decision-making and explicit communication represent the typical characteristics of American negotiators.

The following qualities are therefore often recognized by the Americans: pragmatism, seriousness and accuracy in the drafting of written clauses. For many Americans, the first and foremost point in any business negotiation is getting a signed contract between the parties. You are looking at a signed one contract as a definitive catalog of rights and obligations to which both sides are strictly bound. American negotiators have clear guidelines within which they can decide relatively freely. They often feel that decisions have to be made spontaneously on the spot by the person who has the most experience or who bears the greatest responsibility.

The whole American social structure and mentality demands individualism and the ability to make decisions and increases the willingness to take risks. For Americans, time means money (time is money), so they want to get a deal relatively quickly. You therefore try to reduce the formalities to a minimum and concentrate on the essentials. For members of other cultures who see the purpose of negotiating as establishing a relationship, rather than just signing a contract, there is a need to invest time in the negotiation process so that the parties can get to know each other well and determine whether they have a long-term relationship want to and be able to build. US and German negotiators are vulnerable to colleagues who spend a lot of time discussing the basic principles of negotiation.

For the Japanese, on the other hand, the goal of a negotiation is not a signed contract, but rather the establishment of a relationship between the counterparties. Although the signed contract is an expression of this relationship, they see the essence of their business in the relationship itself. For the Japanese, the long-term relationships are more important than for the Americans and also Europeans. Latin Americans also attach great importance to getting to know the other person, so they invest a lot of time in building a personal relationship. For western culture, time is linear, it goes by forever and ever.

The Germans have striking idioms in their terminology that indicate the great importance of time. Especially in southern Germany one says in everyday language to a person who is supposed to wait something: wait a moment! Is it possible to wait slowly? In addition to the sentence: "What time is it", there is a variant with a more pronounced time: "What time is it?" Such a sentence is quite difficult to translate literally into French, Spanish or English.

Due to their good sense of time, German negotiators tend to and stick to thorough plans. For appointments, exact times are set with little leeway. Your southern European, Arab or Latin American colleagues have a more flexible sense of time and tend to give their contacts the impression that they are very busy and have very little time, according to the motto: A manager has to have little time. They try to depict their lack of time with hyperbolic expressions. Here you should primarily pay attention to the stress of the sentences and the body language signals to find out whether the business partner is so busy or whether it is an exaggeration.

One must not forget that in some cultures, especially in the Arab countries, the negotiation has a playful component. These people simply enjoy testing the negotiators' perseverance and humor.

Many Arab cultures around the Mediterranean only know three time states: no time at all, now (although the duration varies) and forever (too long). This is why American business people often experience unnerving communication glitches when trying to get Arabs to distinguish between different periods of waiting - namely, between a long and a very long time.

The willingness to take risks also plays a role in an international negotiation. It seems not only from the individual person but z. To be partly dependent on the culture. The Japanese, with their need for enormous amounts of information and their rather complicated decision-making process through a pronounced group consensus, are generally less willing to take risks than their American and European colleagues. You need a lot of time to make a decision. Americans, on the other hand, are generally portrayed as the most daring negotiators.

Even spontaneous people can tend to make certain decisions more quickly without thoroughly analyzing the details. A quick decision by an extrovert / impulsive / polychronic business partner should be interpreted as a welcome opportunity. A willingness to make decisions very quickly or too quickly should be interpreted as a principled yes to the deal and not as a final and closed matter. Team organization is also important in international negotiations. It is important to learn how a decision is made, on a ladder or group sensation basis. One extreme is the negotiation team with a top manager who has unrestricted decision-making authority on all issues. Americans usually prefer this method, also known as the "John Wayne style of negotiation," where one person has total decision-making power and rushes to get the job done, as quickly as possible. Other cultures, especially the Japanese but also the Chinese, value team negotiation and the search for consensus. When dealing with such a team, it may not be clear who the leader is and who has authority to determine his side. With the first type, the negotiating team is usually small; the second is often big. If z. For example, if Americans are negotiating a large project in China, it is not uncommon for the Americans to appear at the table with three people and the Chinese and even more so the Japanese with ten. The one-lead team is usually also ready to make commitments and decisions relatively faster than a negotiation team, which relies on the consensus of all parties involved. In France he plays President directeur général (PDG) has a dominant role in the decisions. Large French companies have almost the same organizational structure as the French centralized state. The final say in any case has the PDG, whose decision-making power, unlike in neighboring Germany or England, is neither through a collegial board nor a board Chairmen of the board is contained.

In small and medium-sized companies in southern Europe, the Padrone (Company owner) a leading and more centralized task. Despite a certain collegiality, he is the most important negotiator with almost unlimited decision-making power. The Italian executives are considered flexible and creative. Because of their pronounced polychronic character (generalization required), they are also referred to as rather chaotic negotiating partners. Italian negotiators tend to act ad hoc when making their decisions in an international environment. They take action when favorable opportunities arise in the short term instead of preferring a targeted, long-term strategy. There is a cult of famous managers and executives in Italy and most of the Latin American countries. The corporations in particular, but also small and medium-sized companies, are more likely to be shaped by certain decisive personalities. Despite numerous attempts to decentralize competencies and decisions, Italian managers have a strong tendency to usurp authority. Overwork and the power to concentrate seems to be a status simbole to be many Italian and Latin American managers.

The importance of non-verbal signals - especially facial expressions - in communication and negotiation

"Nothing is inside, nothing is outside, because what is inside is outside" (Goethe). This quote from the great poet underscores the inseparability between verbal and non-verbal elements. The body speaks by visualizing the feelings of the person. As a result, there is a close connection between physical activity and mental state. For this reason, the negotiator should focus his attention on the other party. The negotiator's observation should primarily focus on the opponent's facial expression. Here primarily the non-verbal elements are described, the meaning of which has a more universal character. Their meaning is subject to culturally determined small differences.

The language of facial expressions and the face

The face is the most important area of ​​the body for non-verbal signals. Due to its high expressiveness, it can send information well and is therefore the most watched, with the eyes playing a particularly important role here. During a conversation or negotiation, there is a rapid succession of facial expressions (movement of the facial muscles) and other signals that are organized according to the verbal messages. When it comes to facial expressions, a distinction is made between three main areas: The upper part of the face: from the highest point on the forehead to the eyebrows. This part of the face should be responsible for the mind. The middle part: from the brows to under the nose. This area should reflect the feeling area and the lower part: from the nose to the chin end. This part of the face should give information about the material and purely sexual nature. A very lively facial expression shows lively mobility and the rapid succession in the reception of impressions and inner experiences. Certain states of consciousness are generally not very sustainable. They show easy flammability in response to external stimuli.

From a strongly moved mine game one can quickly deduce successive inner experiences, lively, emotional, varied, lifelike and active experiences. Moving facial expressions are characteristic of impulsive behavior. The less lively facial expressions basically indicate the continuity of the mental processes. The possible diversity of experience has given way to greater urgency after mostly a longer period of maturity. Many stimuli remain unanswered because an instinctive selection between important and unimportant, essential and not essential, and an unconscious shielding has taken place. Little movement of facial expressions speaks for less distractible, less often changing moods. The personal lifestyle develops relatively unaffected. Reactions seem rather relaxed here.

The facial messages have clear meanings, e.g. B. reward or punishment, approval or disapproval, and therefore have an immediate effect on subsequent behavior. If an action from A to B finds clear approval, then A will repeat this action or e.g. For example, go a step further in a courtship or a business negotiation. A signal of confusion or misunderstanding will result in an attempt at clarification. Dominance signals will lead to the complementary signals of subordination / appeasement or to the competing phenomena of dominance. Very often certain signals evoke similar responses in the other, either simply by imitation or as an exchange of recognition.

The facial expression can be intensified with the help of the hands. However, this is not always recommended. If a person is in a conversation where it is particularly important to make a good impression, how you put your hands in the facial area is important. Basically, one or both hands on the face reveal negative feelings, even if this is not always felt that way. Suddenly clapping a hand over your mouth means that you've been gossiping yourself. Rubbing your chin, a cheek, tugging your beard, pinching your nose, smoothing your skin are all signs of embarrassment. Twisting the hair around the index finger creates a kind of embarrassment and insecurity. Fingertips under the closed collar or airing the blouse neckline are also an expression of embarrassment hot collar = hot collar). Covering your eyes with one or both hands often indicates a high level of emotional excitement or fright. Placing the index finger lengthways on the nose signals reflection, but with an instructive tone it underlines the importance of what has been said. By taking off your glasses and slowly cleaning your glasses or pipe, you want to gain time to think. Holding your hands like blinkers on the left and right of your temples means you don't want to be distracted, you have to orientate yourself, concentrate. Hypersensitive people get stressed more quickly than emotionally more robust people. They are more likely to make gestures like this because it is easier for them to come under pressure.

A person's psychological state is also underlined by the color of their face. The faster and more intensely the skin reddens, the faster and more intensely the neuro-vegetative system reacts. Such people generally turn out to be sensitive. With fear, stage fright and embarrassment, the skin either all over the face or only on the left and right of the nose and mouth becomes pale, with embarrassing embarrassment reddish. In difficult negotiations or delicate conversations - i.e. in stressful situations - red spots can easily appear on the cheeks, neck and ears. Sometimes beads of sweat can also be seen on the upper lip or on the forehead wrinkles. A fat secretion on the forehead can make the whole area shine.

Some facial expressions belong to the universal facial expressions, which are represented by science as culturally and geographically independent feelings. The six feelings that are clearly written on people's faces across all continents and ethnicities include: joy, disgust, anger, sadness and surprise. When joyful, the eyes appear big and laughing, the eyebrows are drawn down, the mouth forms a wide U. The teeth often appear too. A happy face is contagious, it can evoke a similar expression in the other person. In the event of a surprise, elongated horizontal forehead wrinkles become visible and the eyes are wide open. The eyelids pull up. The mouth is open. When angry, vertical wrinkles appear between the narrowed eyebrows and the narrowed eyes. The lips are either pressed together or the mouth is opened square. The fear manifests itself through wide open eyes, raised and contracted eyebrows. A sad face shows in the characteristic fold of the forehead. The folds form an upward arch over the eyebrows. The eyes have a watery and lifeless expression. When people are disgusted, cross wrinkles appear on the forehead down to the bridge of the nose. The eyebrows are drawn down, the eyes are much smaller, the lower lids point up, and deep nasolabial folds are formed. A bitter mouth develops.

When a person's facial expression shows something different from what they actually think / intend, the picture is crooked. Women in particular can notice faster than men that something is wrong. Real feelings are announced in the face before the words, fake feelings, on the other hand, appear only with the words or even later because there is no spontaneity.

When you laugh or smile genuinely, spontaneously and sincerely, the lips are drawn up into a wide U, thus lifting the cheeks. Sometimes the so-called crow's feet appear around the eyes, the eyebrows are pulled down and the eyes automatically shrink. Anyone who smiles or laughs with big eyes and horizontal lips is deceiving their counterparts. Those who lie, fear betrayal with their facial expressions, concentrate on their formulations and suppress their non-verbal language, or they show it in an unnatural way that is recognizable. Popular gestures when lying are: hand in front of your mouth, index finger on the upper lip, scratching an eyebrow, or massaging an earlobe. In addition, there are unmotivated foot and hand movements. The whole body can generally turn to the side. In the case of inexperienced “liars”, some of these symptoms of embarrassment are quickly visible. However, there are clever interlocutors who are able to present untrue things in a convincing way as plausible arguments. They are able to show a congruence between verbal utterances and non-verbal appearances.

However, mastering your own facial expressions can be exhausting in the long run. The "liar" is forced to keep his facial expression under control. A fitting quote from Schopenhauer: “If you suspect that someone is lying to you, then pretend that you believe their word. Now he will lie even more brazenly and certainly give himself away ”. People who look at the floor, the wall or the ceiling are busy with their thoughts, they have to think hard. They don't want to see anyone, they avoid any kind of interference, they want to focus on the problem. In doing so, they have absolutely no intention of lying. If interlocutors feel they have been lied to, they tend to look more closely at the other party, focusing their attention on the facial expression. If he changes his arguments, then he very likely changes his facial expressions as well. Here it is recommended to go back to the original topic in order to check whether what was said is congruent or incongruent.

What the eyes reveal

It is generally said that about 80 percent of the sensory impressions of people of our time are taken with the eyes. However, people's eyes are especially tell-tale. Shrewd card players can judge their hand based on the iris of their opponents. Unless it's a round of Poker faces with immobile expressions and expressionless eyes. If you want to find out whether someone is interested in us or our views that we like to represent, then you should pay attention to the following: Eye contact: unconscious eye contact is related to real sympathy. People who are valued are looked at more often than people who are not interested. The more intense the eye contact, the more interested someone is not only in the argument, but also in the person and vice versa. With sensitive topics such as sexuality, illnesses, disputes and the like. the frequency and intensity of eye contact decreases. Sympathy expands the iris and brightens its color. Antipathy narrows the iris and darkens its color. That is why the eyes of lovers shine. The expression of the eyes comes about through the movement of the muscles around the eye area and the eyes, through the intensity of the gaze, through the degree of vitality in the shine of the eye, through the size of the pupils and through the loose or stiff posture of the neck muscles. When analyzing the pupillary expression, one must bear in mind that they first of all react purely physiologically to light conditions. They narrow when there is a lot of light and expand when the brightness is low so that we can perceive better. During discussions / negotiations, you should not have any strong light on your face (sun or artificial light). The pupils react analogously to emotional influences. They get bigger when a person sees something he desires, is pleasant to him or interests him. Streams of thought also cause this effect. Concentrating on a person or thing causes the pupil to dilate. Since pupil dilation is associated with a positive feeling, people with large pupils appear more sympathetic, more attractive to us.

Stumbling block eye contact

An intense look in a straight line of sight with tense neck muscles is a clear signal to confront, one fixes a point. This continued look contains both threat and warning. The intense look always means a test of strength. The duration and intensity of the gaze give the signal whether a territorial war will take place or whether a relationship with one another should be established by renouncing this dispute. Then the gaze wanders briefly and interrupts the confrontation. On the other hand, if you look sideways, you want to avoid any confrontation and bypass a statement. The look brings the information somewhere else. If you look up, you seek help or assistance from a higher authority.

If the eye is directed towards the ground on the tip of the foot, the person seeks security from his previous experiences. If one looks ahead into the void, this person either lives in the future, in a dream world that is unrealistic, or with great daring and big plans he relies on future possibilities.

However, the intensity of eye contact is also culturally dependent. While it is more or less the same length and fairly intense in Western Europe, the USA and North America, the Japanese avoid direct and long eye contact. When communicating, they tend to concentrate their gaze on the neck area, which makes it appear less penetrating and threatening. German negotiators take an even more intense and relatively long look at the other than their European and American counterparts. This already occurs with the handshake, which is supported and accompanied by a frontal optical communication. The German physical rapprochement can have a rather negative effect not only on the Japanese, but also on the southern Europeans. When they shake hands, they prefer gentle visual contact by forming an angle between them. This can reduce the physical distance and especially any confrontation and create a friendly atmosphere.

Prof. Dr. Nello Gaspardo is professor for rhetoric, international negotiation and international procurement at the University of Applied Sciences for Technology and Economics in Reutlingen.

© 1999 Association report
Published in the association report 04/99, on May 10, 1999
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