As the global market expands and more and more businesses begin to enter the international platform, the necessity of acquiring a diverse workforce has risen significantly. Culture is something that has shaped our world and our own lives tremendously, with every country containing a different way of life; its people rich in unique beliefs, religions, opinions, and values. However, the beauty of this worldwide diversity can create many problems for a company and the way its employees attempt to conduct business with others around the globe.
The goal of any business is to cultivate a deal and come to an agreement with another company. This type of cross cultural transaction, in order to be a success, requires a high level of relatability and connectivity that can only be met through a strong sense of cultural awareness and understanding. It is important when conducting business to be able to have an understanding of the ideals and culture of the person with whom you are interacting, and to be able to utilize this knowledge to create a strong and trustworthy relationship. This growing business practice is why candidates that are diverse in their cultural understanding, business approach, and overall thinking are becoming so vital to companies across the globe.
Communication is one of the most essential parts of any business agreement. Whether it be in person, on the phone, or through e-mail, speaking to a representative of the company with which you are working with is necessary on every scale of business. The ability to speak multiple languages is one that can be extremely helpful and useful when conducting international business. Not only does it make people feel more comfortable in their interactions, but it also reduces the risk of problems that can arise when one side of the deal misunderstands something or is unable to correctly interpret the meaning of a message. Even if one cannot fully speak another’s language, having enough cultural knowledge to be able to avoid insulting terms or phrases that may cause confusion is extremely important. Using the phrase “what’s up with…” in an e-mail to someone who does not speak English will have negative consequences because it is a phrase in which the meaning that we have intended does not literally translate.
Understanding a different culture and its practices is extremely important when interacting with people of other countries. For example, if one is meeting with a representative from a company in Spain, he or she should be prepared to receive a kiss on the cheek upon meeting, as this is considered to be a formal greeting in that country. Although this may vary from a greeting found in the United States or elsewhere, being aware of such tradition and respectful of this cultural practice is important and demonstrates an even greater sense of courtesy and appreciation. Dress is something that can also have a huge effect when meeting with people from different cultures. The way one would dress for a business meeting in the United States may vary vastly from the way one would dress for a meeting in Morocco or another more conservative country. Possessing the knowledge of these differences is extremely valuable because some forms of dress can be considered extremely inappropriate or offensive, and an be detrimental to any business negotiation. While this may be different from what one might be used to, it is imperative to demonstrate respect towards the customs of different cultures and religions.
Cultural awareness and having been exposed to a wide range of cultures and religions are instrumental qualities when working within the world of international business. Being relatable to others, and being able to connect with someone on a larger scale is extremely helpful and can lead to an even greater success in negotiations. Even a small conversation about a sporting event, holiday, or cultural food can go a long way in solidifying a relationship. Understanding how a person may think or feel about a certain issue and expecting certain behaviors and mannerisms will aid in the fluidity of making a business deal, and will also create a positive image for not only the business for which you are employed, but for yourself as well.
Written By: G.Ball