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Passports and Propaganda

Posted on 04/29/14 in Professor Farbo
International BusinessIn today's globalized world, customers are coming from an increasing number of countries worldwide. The increase in multinational businesses also brings to light the need for a better and more thorough understanding of multiple cultures to ensure global success. Businesses are beginning to zoom in on cross-cultural competency, addressing such questions as what steps can be taken to promote intercultural communication, why cross-cultural competency is so important, and the potential implications for businesses choosing to ignore it.

Communicating Across Cultures

To talk about communicating well across many cultures, it's important to make note of what does not represent good communication. Here are some examples of communication fails in the workplace:

Failure to proactively adapt to multiple cultural expectations with your business.
Failure to understand cultural norms around hierarchy, formality, proper timing, and other conventions of a culture. This can have a major effect on the way negotiations work out.
Being too egocentric. Many cultures, especially outside of the United States, place much value on family and community. If you are "I" instead of "we"oriented, your attitude may be a major turnoff.
Impatience and aggression. Depending on the culture, business may be quicker or slower than usual, and it takes patience and platitude to adjust.

Now that we've gone over the don'ts, let's look at the dos:

Work together to create partnerships based in mutual trust.
Learn cultural conventions. If you really have no idea how to act, find someone from outside the business negotiation representative of that culture and ask. Also, never underestimate the power of Googling your way through proper cross-cultural etiquette!
If language is a barrier, hire a competent translator who can help manage this kind of communication. A good translator may also be able to help you learn more about the culture itself.
Do your homework and be prepared. Don't show up with zero knowledge about the culture in question, and be prepared to challenge yourself.

Cross-Cultural Communication, Business, and You

While "intercultural skills" and "cross-cultural communication" may sound like a meaningless set of buzzwords, they are crucial skills and practices when negotiating across borders. These skills are important because they help make clients from many nations and backgrounds feel more at ease which, in turn, makes them far more likely to conduct business with you. Cross-cultural communication is becoming the norm, especially with the ubiquitous nature of the internet.

Author: Robert Stillman CEO

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