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The Cultural Differences in Business Communication
Communication and intercultural business has been and still is an intricate part of understanding and conducting business with individuals of different cultures. Ever since early business dealings of the past when English explorers used to sail the seas in search of raw materials and spices, intercultural business dealings and understanding of other cultures has been the key element in business negotiations. Understanding the way other cultures interact with each other, their beliefs and views, and their personal business practices, will enable intercultural business to be a success. When traveling to another country on business, it’s always a good idea to interact with the people there and get to know the country as well as the laws. This will help with getting over culture shock that almost everyone endures. Being separated from family and friends, the food and entertainment that you are used to and trying to adapt to a new way of life can become stressful and troubling for some. Getting over a culture shock will enable an individual to be work productive, enjoy their transition, and conduct business with an ethic that will be appreciated and honored. Successful business communication starts with some form of education of the other culture as well as understanding of its business practices. Listening and knowing what is expected of you will be a great advantage for smooth business dealings, hence the saying “When in Rome, do as the Romans do!” All cultures are not the same and have different expectations of the way they believe that business should be conducted, form the way they great each other to the way they sit and speak. Many cultures are business motivated by tradition and religion and although some practices may be unjustifiable to you, to them it is what they know and trust. Individuals of other cultures also have strong values they believe highly. It’s always best to educate yourself on these values, such as how to greet and treat woman, kids, and elders, what they may consider appropriate or inappropriate, their views and beliefs on joking during business dealings, and proper attire. All of these things are values that other cultures are very intuitive with and things that they have been practicing for centuries. Individuals of other culture do not think as you may, conduct business as you do, or are even bounded by laws as you may be, but with cultural respect to their values business will be conducted without a hitch. Different cultures would more than likely not expect you to know or understand their language without a translator, so learning the language will be a benefactor that will enable you to make a good impression and even some friends. Conducting business is not just business in retrospect, its showing appreciation and respect for the culture and the way they handle business as a whole. Understanding other languages will also allow for you to understand an individual’s thought process and help you to fit in and become more comfortable with the environment. Being an outsider sometimes is an uncomfortable situation to be in if you are attempting to conduct business in another country, and it can cause for a business dealing to go array as well. Most intercultural business dealings often have business luncheons or dinners in which business is conducted over food and drinks. Some cultures don’t use utensils and eat with their hands and some cultures don’t use chairs but sit on the floor. Dining etiquette is also a part of intercultural dealings of business because some gestures made may be considered disrespectful or a sign of great dishonor. Being offered dishes that you may not eat and turning them down is very disrespectful in some countries. Pouring your own drink in some countries is forbidden, as it is supposed to be the initiative of the person of the country in which you may be in. There are a lot of cultures that eat traditional dishes that have religious meanings behind them and there are also cultures that drink traditional spirits much earlier that you may think is appropriate, but understanding dining etiquette will give off an impression of a willing to learn and be accepted. All cultures do not conduct business the same either! While bribes are illegal in a lot of countries, it is legal and expected in some cultures. Offering money to an individual of another culture to help with getting business done is traditional and even legal in some cultures. In some culture, status plays an intricate part in business, as far as who enters or leaves a room first or last to how to address a person of status. Business customs vary from culture to culture and may even be strange but necessary for conducting good and respectful business relationships. Conducting business in other countries may be easy and in some cases hard depending on the culture and their business practices and in some situations, business negotiations may be necessary and profoundly relevant. Business is all about giving something wanted or needed to receive something needed or wanted, in other words it’s all about “give and take.” You may have to reevaluate some forms of agreements in order to appease on a cultural basis. It is always best to have a team of people to negotiate business dealings. These individuals need to be of a certain age, have the expertise needed, and be of a certain gender. An individual who may speak the language of another culture frequently will more than likely be more beneficial than one that does not. Being able to communicate and relate to others is detrimental in all business negotiations. Also incorporating someone who is from the target culture and has spent time there will help for business negotiations to go more smoothly as well. You may also want to ask yourself questions that may help with conducting business also, such as what is expected of me? Different cultures have different expectations of everyone they conduct business with other than their own. What cultural values are important to the culture in which you are doing business? This will enable you to be able to understand and know how to conduct yourself and what is acceptable and unacceptable. Understanding the language and the thought process of the culture will give a clearer understanding of the culture and enable you to communicate better on a one on one basis. Take into consideration proper dining etiquette and posture during meetings will also be beneficial. During or before a business dinner or luncheon, ask yourself what is an appropriate way of ordering or either eating, and in most cases, your counterpart may even help you or educate you on this as well. Educate yourself on their business customs and consider the law with it. Are bribes legal and expected? Is it customary to have alcoholic beverages for lunch or dinner? Most cultures have different practices and a way of life and knowing this will help to make business transition good ones. In conclusion, business is not just business unless it is taken seriously and is conducted with the respect and gratification for the other culture. Educating one’s self of their religion, food, laws, expectations, and personalities will allow for business friendships to be made as well as personal ones. The world is a massive place with different ideals, beliefs, customs, and hardships, and understanding this with an open mind and a business perspective, conducting business and making it successful will be challenging but manageable.