Business Negotiations in Iran

  December 05, 2021   Read time 2 min
Business Negotiations in Iran
Negotiations will probably take place through an interpreter, which is an advisable practice even if you think your Persian is adequate or your business partner speaks English well.

It may be useful to spend some time establishing a relationship with your interpreter before the meeting, which, as with other Iranians, will help the progress of your work in the long term. To facilitate the interpreter’s work, speak slowly, especially at the beginning, and pace your speech. To avoid misunderstandings, avoid new and colloquial expressions, which an interpreter may be unfamiliar with, and use textbook/formal vocabulary, not informal, chatty words.

If you or one of your associates speaks Persian, communication will be easier generally and, since Iranians are well-disposed toward a foreigner who has made the effort to learn their language, the presence of a Persian speaker, even one who is not fluent, is likely to contribute toward the overall good feeling. As in all business interactions aimed at reaching agreement over future actions or on terms for a contract, the negotiation process follows similar lines. Each party has in mind the absolute maximum amount of terms they are prepared to grant, but start off with the minimum to allow themselves the leeway to show flexibility and goodwill.

When it comes to the negotiation itself, again you need to be patient. As must have become clear by now, interpersonal relationships are very important among Iranians and are developed gradually through interactions. If a speaker feels that a point could be construed as criticism or is likely to cause confrontation or disagreement, it will probably be made in a long-winded or indirect manner in order to minimize its potentially offensive impact. Try to read between the lines of a seemingly irrelevant point; ask your interpreter for help if necessary.

Iranians frequently use the inductive method to make a point. They build up an argument gradually, sometimes using anecdotes and analogies (qiyâs) until they reach their main point. This discourse style takes some getting used to by those accustomed to making the main point first and then supporting it with evidence. Learn to listen for the main point near the end of the talk rather than at the beginning.

Iranians are seasoned negotiators. This ability comes into its own in business dealings; they enjoy bargaining in their attempt to get advantageous concessions and, most importantly, they know that time is on their side. Try not to show that you are under time constraints, as this can be used as a negotiating tactic against you. In Iran patience, not time, is of the essence.