It is undeniable that the current business landscape is increasingly international, and it’s been like that for the past few decades. In fact, it would be extremely hard to thrive without going global. That is why is important to be concerned about cross-cultural communication in Business.
Employees across different departments based on different countries are in touch on a daily basis. Therefore, in order to successfully compete, entrepreneurs need to have an accurate understanding of the cultural aspects of the different regions in which their business operates. Otherwise, they can face misinterpretations, conflict, lower productivity and even lose profit.
In today’s post, we would like to talk about cross-cultural communication in Business and in order to do so we want to recommend Vivek Gupta’s article called: “6 Secrets to Navigating Cross-Cultural Differences”.
Key aspects in the cross-cultural communication
- Take the time to study a colleague’s or prospect’s culture before a meeting. Observe the other person/team’s behaviour (for example in their emails), identify their tone, negotiation style and of course familiarise with them as soon as possible. Read about their country, habits, religions, history. Avoid the self-reference criterion!
- Be sensitive to differences in the language. Even among native English speakers, there are variations in the meaning of certain words. For example, in the U.S. we know that “table it” means let’s put it aside. But in the U.K, the same expression means the exact opposite – let’s put it on the table and discuss it now.
- Pay attention to differences in body language across cultures. A very good example of this would be the following: if an Indian employee nods and makes affirmative sounds in a phone call, this doesn’t really mean that they agree with you, most definitely it means that they understand what the other person is saying, so you shouldn’t take it as an agreement.
- Be aware of various dinner rituals. On the one hand, in many Eastern countries, family style dining is the norm, and it is considered a polite gesture to share food off your plate, even. On the other hand, dining in the U.S. can be a challenge for people from Eastern cultures because they may feel unprepared or unprofessional due to all the food and etiquette differences. For instance, someone from Japan may have never used a lobster cracker before, but they may not want to ask how to, so there may be a slightly awkward moment then.
- Realise business card exchanges are not the same around the world. For example, in Japan they normally bow and give their card with both hands, expecting the other person to pick the card with both hands and then to take some time to read it. In the UK, business cards will just tend to be placed on the table in a meeting.
- Get your company on board with a cross-cultural awareness program. This is a magnificent way to provide your team with training about greetings, etiquette, dining customs, successful interactions, among others. (have a look at our teacher Cheryl de Bruine’s advice services on http://www.globalrecruiters.org/ or http://www.debruine-ashby.com/default.htm).
As a conclusion about cross-cultural communication in Business, and in Mr Gupta’s own words: “By identifying and embracing these cultural differences rather than ignoring them, organizations can create stronger global teams and better relationships with customers and prospects, allowing them to thrive in the global competitive landscape”.