''People in foreign countries have been 'America-watching' for years," says Dr. Eugene Mendonsa of the International Negotiating Institute in Red Bluff, Calif., a firm that specializes in teaching Americans how to negotiate better business deals overseas, "but what do we know about the rest of the world? Is it any wonder then that Americans are at a distinct disadvantage when trying to negotiate overseas?"

Besides, adds Mr. Mendonsa, most U.S. negotiators are in a hurry to get down to business and foreigners know that, so they go slow. "In most countries, they socialize for days and even weeks before even mentioning business. By being in a hurry, we rush through deals and leave money on the negotiating table."Here are what Mr. Mendonsa sees as the ten most common mistakes Americans make when dealing overseas:

1) Opening with demands that are too modest: Never assume your opening demands are high enough with foreigners. They're probably too reasonable. Aim higher and take more risks.

2) Trying to hurry a deal: The quicker the deal, the greater the risk. Quick settlements are frequently extreme "win-lose" deals. Go slow.

3) Not taking a personal approach: This is much more important overseas than it is in the United States. Don't be in a rush to get down to brass tacks. Get to know the person you are dealing with, his likes and dislikes, personal history, family, work groups, etc. Some aspects may vary from country to country, but this is the most critical phase of negotiating overseas - don't skimp on it.

4) Being ethnocentric and getting angry: Because "they" are different, you might find it difficult to control your emotions because foreigners don't do things "the American way." But emotions are the number one enemy of a good negotiator, and so is the idea that there is only one right way to do things.

5) Talking when you don't need to: Because we fear silence we fill the space with chatter. And while you may wish to hear English spoken at any cost, resist the urge to speak just to hear your own voice.

6) Trying to deal through letters and telephone calls: Face-to-face communication is the norm abroad, the telephone is only used for courtesy calls. Besides, it's easy to strike a quick deal on the telephone. Written communications are even more dangerous, and sometimes get no response at all

from foreigners.

7) Sending the boost: Foreigners respect negotiators with authority, but don't send the boss. He or she has too much authority, and may find it too easy to make impulsive deals. Agents almost always negotiate better than principals. If you are the boss and you absolutely, positively have to do a negotiation yourself, make up an imaginary committee that has to approve everything you do. That will buy time when you need to think something through.

8) Being too open: Americans are too forthright. We like to explain the reasons behind our thinking and actions. But don't do it. Especially beware of opening up to foreigners during the time you're being wined and dined. Many foreigners use liquor, food and other exotica in hopes that you will let your hair down and reveal something that they can use in the negotiations.

9) Making faux pas: Many cross-cultural negotiations fail because one side offends the sensibilities of the other side. Listen a lot at first - talk later. Try to study business norms abroad or take someone with you that knows the customs of the country in question.

10) Negotiating when fatigued: Jet lag, exotic entertainment, new foods and stress can all add to a feeling of fatigue, and tired negotiators make foolish mistakes. Avoid marathon negotiating sessions and late-night deals if you can. And never reveal your exact travel plans, since some foreigners will try to socialize non-stop until just before your plane is due to leave and they know you are desperate to strike some kind of deal.

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