March 03, 2020

A European identity?

Countries and regions

After highlighting the differences in Europe on negotiation, money, economy, identity, world view, Csilla wonders about the possible synergies.

A European identity?

Csilla offers a follow-up to her article Europe revisited and asks whether European countries can succeed in building a European identity.

After highlighting the differences between Western and Central Europe in terms of negotiation, money, economy, identity, beliefs and worldview, she asks about possible synergies. What are their complementarities? What can each side bring to the other?

The richness of cultural differences

Two approaches to negotiation

The art of negotiation: the value of the product

For Westerners, these "peoples of the seas", explorers and traders, a negotiation is more human-oriented. It is an art that has its rules: partners appreciate each other, seduce each other, value each other, approach each other, distance themselves to create a relationship with subtlety, know-how and a lot of interpersonal skills.

The result of the negotiation for them is based more on the history woven together and on the bonds forged over time between the partners than on obtaining the lowest price.

Going through ups and downs, through disagreements, the partners must show great emotional intelligence and an ability to bounce back, to not give up, to never take everything for granted. For them, a negotiation is never definitively closed.

Their strength lies in their long-term tenacity and in a fine knowledge of the surprising facets of human nature.

Moreover, the majority of books that propose negotiation techniques come from the West and speak to Westerners.

Negotiation at the first level: the cost price
In Central Europe and among the "land peoples", negotiation is more product-oriented. What counts for them is "the land", the price of the raw material, the price that is as close as possible to the trader's added value, the cost price.

When negotiating with them, you have to be precise about the figures, conclude quickly and have a clear discourse in order to generate a real love affair and to arouse their confidence. Otherwise, they could quickly drop the commercial relationship without any follow-up and without regret.

If, for example, they get a much lower price after negotiating, they may think that there has been deception from the beginning. It is better to give them the right price right away, without varying it and without trying to create a story.

The human energy invested in a negotiation is an important cost for them, so they have a preference for efficiency, precision, intuition and the heart. They will perpetuate commercial partnerships that do not tire them unnecessarily by the lack of quick results.

Their strength lies in their ability to move forward quickly and in their "reality principle" taking into account the demands of the real world and the material consequences of their actions.

The complementarity of the two approaches

The analysis of the differences between "Europeans of the seas and lands" in terms of negotiation cultures sheds light on their priorities, misunderstandings, and sometimes conflicts, including political ones.

For the moment, the parties are convinced that they are the only ones who are right against each other and see the qualities of the others rather as defects.

The intercultural viewpoint proposes a modification of this negative perspective so that the difference can be seen as an additional richness, as a complementarity to be integrated.

The concertation of differences in negotiation styles would lead Europeans to create a synergistic effect that would be beneficial both economically and from the point of view of building a European identity.

The relationship to money: focus on Central Europe

Negotiation is linked to the relationship with money. Traditionally, in Central Europe, money is something immutable that is accumulated or capitalized on in real estate without any particular attempt to make it bear fruit.

Ambivalence towards money

Today, things have changed. The people of Central Europe travel and have tasted liberalism. Some of them have quickly understood the dynamics of money, while others pursue the logic of accumulation. Therefore, there are two attitudes towards money:

  • A more discreet attitude among the Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Hungarians and Slovenes;
  • A slightly more conspicuous attitude among Romanians, Ukrainians and Russians.

Logic of accumulation

Here is an anecdote that illustrates the logic of accumulation and the relationship to money of the people of Central Europe.

A man, seeing bricks at a surprisingly low price, buys enough to build a house and piles them up in his garden, where they remain for years. When asked what he was going to do with them, he replied that he was not going to build a house but would sell them one day. He only bought them because they were cheap!

Another ambivalence about money emerges: selling is painful for them because it requires communication and relational subtleties that bore them, but there are excellent buyers who get very low prices.

Opposition or complementarity?

Because of its history and geography, each part of Europe has developed a different relationship to money and skills. Europeans are not so easily interchangeable, but they are formidably complementary. Nevertheless, there is a lack of understanding between them that must be overcome if political Europe is to succeed.

The inhabitants of Central Europe were few in number, without money, without commercial know-how, and they survived for millennia on their land. Today they are trying to learn to trade and exchange, but only up to a certain limit and certainly not at the cost of their inner life or their identity.

For them, the meaning of life is not to run the economy. They live to preserve life, the body, the home, the nation, nature, the planet, peace, not only individual but also collective freedoms.

On the other hand, Westerners think that the people of Central Europe are narrow-minded and do not think big, that this survival reflex is a reaction of the extreme right.

How can they be reconciled?

If the Europe of the seas knows how to turn money around and produce wealth, the Europe of identity knows how to preserve it with its instinct for conservation and survival. Isn't there an opportunity to bring synergies into play rather than to set one against the other?

In Polish, Hungarian, Czech, Slovak, Slovenian, Serbian and Croatian villages, people have organized themselves throughout the centuries to collect waste and plastics in rivers, lakes and forests without the help of the States.

There is in them a reflex to preserve the biosphere. The protection of nature is an interesting example and we could find many others, to bring complementarities into play and build a European synergy.

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