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Relationship building

Harry Lewis and John Crow, the Purchasing Manager of "Lewis & Son" are visiting St.Petersburg to  meet with representatives of "Parma Control Service". The purpose of the visit is to have talks about the possible purchase of a control system for valves from "Parma Control Service".

The first contact between two sides takes place at a hotel in St.Petersburg. One of the Russians from "Parma Control Service" comes to meet them in the hotel. Both sides (British and Russian) are well aware of the importance, that the first impression can give. Therefore, they are trying to make a good atmosphere just before the real talks start. Such relationship building can often set the climate for the whole negotiation.

General Manager and Proprietor, Purchasing Manager, Head of Overseas Sales Division Technical Sales Manager

"Lewis & Son". "Lewis & Son". "Parma Controls Services". "Parma Controls Services".

The participants are:

Harry Lewis

John Crow

Victor Popov

Andrew Smirnov

Smirnov:     Excuse me. Are you Mr Lewis and Mr Crow from "Lewis & Son"?

Lewis:       That's right. I'm Harry Lewis and this is John Crow.

Smirnov:   How do you do? My name is Andrew Smirnov. I'm the Technical Sales Manager at "Parma

Control Service".

Lewis:      How do you do?

Crow:       Pleased to meet you.                                             

Smirnov:   So, welcome to Russia! You must be tired after your flight.

Lewis:      No, not too tired. We've had most of the day to relax, and the hotel is very comfortable.

Smirnov:   Good. Mr Popov, our Head of Overseas Sales Division will be joining us in ten or fifteen

minutes. Then we plan to go to a restaurant. So can I offer you a drink?

Lewis:      Good idea....

Smirnov:   Ah, here is Mr Popov now.

Popov:      Hello, gentlemen. My name is Victor Popov. I'm the Head of Overseas Sales Division at

"Parma Control Service." How are you?

Lewis:      Very well, thanks. I'm Harry Lewis, the General Manager at "Lewis & Son". Let me

introduce my colleague, John Crow. He is our Purchasing Manager.

Popov:      I'm pleased to meet you, gentlemen.         

Crow:       It’s a pleasure for me too.

Popov:      Would you like another drink? Have you tried that cocktail yet?

Lewis:      I don't think so. What is it?

Popov:      It's based on a drink made! from strawberry.

Lewis:      That sounds good.

Popov:      And for you, Mr Crow?                                                                          

Crow:       I'll try that too. By the way, please call me John.                 

Popov:      Good. And I'm Victor, as you know. Andrew, would you like the strawberry cocktail too?

Smirnov:   Yes.

Popov:      I drink to our friendship and cooperation.

Lewis:      Here is to you Mr. Popov and Mr. Smirnov.

Crow: To health and success. Mmm, it's very good. Do people drink it a lot?               

POPOV: No, not cocktails, but beer. We drink a lot of beer in Russia.                        LEWIS:Beer? And is that imported here?                                                                   Popov:We mainly drink Russian beers and some of them are very good.              Crow: And what about wine?       

Popov: We produce some wine too, especially in the very south near the Black Sea. But in general, we produce and drink less wine than Bulgaria, for example.

Crow: That's interesting. What's the reason for that?

Smirnov: Basically it's too cold. A lot of the country is continental and that's not a good climate for producing wines.

Popov: Well, I think, Mr Lewis, that you have to go a lot on business, do you?

 Lewis: Yes, I do, since the business we run at “Lewis & Son” requires a lot of personal and professional contacts with many people in different countries.


    You are quite right. And it is necessary to remember about so called cross-cultural differences. I                 mean that people in different countries behave in different ways. This is a question of individual style. However, we often make assumption based on the way things are done in our country. Sometimes this may be rather different from the other sides' assumption.

Lewis:        Precisely so. Cross-cultural peculiarities are sometimes quite conspicuous. People living in
different countries place different degrees of emphasis on the importance of relationship
building. For example, in many Middle Eastern countries no business can be done until a relationship of mutual confidence has been built up between two sides. By contrast, in Finland, a small talk before a negotiation is generally kept to a minimum, and most of the relationship building will take place afterwards, in a restaurant or sauna.

Popov:       Well, that is very interesting, and according to my own experience, in many countries people find it easier to build a relationship with a potential business partner in a social setting. This is particularly true of many European countries, such as Spain, France and the UK.

Lewis:        Yes, that's the situation. Another interesting detail most common among the

Japanese is the practice of immediate handing over a business card. It helps you to remember unfamiliar names and to understand better the role and status of the members of the other negotiating team. However, in some countries, Germany, for example, it's more common to exchange business cards at the end of a meeting.      

Crow:   .     It seems to me I can also say something about so-called cross-cultural differences. Harry knows that according  to my duties in the company I've been traveling away too much. My wife is always grumbling that I live in planes and hotels more than at home.

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