Nonverbal embodiment of relational messages in cross-cultural negotiation

  • PhD Student
    Semnani-Azad, Zhaleh
    University of Waterloo, Canada
    Department of Psychology
  • Adair Wendi, Canada


We examine the meaning and impact of nonverbal expressions in Canadian and Chinese negotiation. Based on three dimensions of semantic meaning : engagement, evaluation, and status (Osgood & Suci, 1955), we manipulated negotiators’ relational approach and recorded their nonverbal expressions. We predicted patterns of nonverbal behaviors that will vary by negotiators’ levels of affect and involvement as well as by national culture. Objective coders rated negotiators’ nonverbal expression and analyses confirmed etic nonverbal behaviors mapping onto the involvement-affect model (Prager & Roberts, 2000) and impacting negotiators’ perceptions and satisfaction. Results also confirm several culture-specific, emic nonverbal expressions of meaning and a relationship between nonverbal expression and negotiators’ satisfaction. Our study informs theories of relational negotiation, communication in negotiation, and cross-cultural negotiation. We discuss implications for managers’ negotiation and problem solving in Eastern vs. Western cultural contexts as well as cross-cultural business settings.


Nonverbal Communication, Negotiation, Culture

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