Most people know the importance of understanding culture communication and that business is conducted differently throughout the world, yet this is an aspect in business that is frequently overlooked. As a result, even a subtle misunderstanding in cultural differences can cause tensions and jeopardize relationships.
When doing business at an international level, we must be knowledgeable about the different customs and traditions and remain respectful of these differences. Taking the time to understand these cultural variations can lead to a more positive image for your company and more successful negotiations.
Here are 8 important considerations for international business:
1. Greetings and introductions – business and social greetings may differ.
2. Titles and Forms of Address – the importance of business hierarchy varies around the world.
3. Punctuality and concept of time – may or may not be a very important priority.
4. Business Card Etiquette – there are country specific differences in the etiquette of giving and receiving business cards.
5. Communication Styles (verbal & non verbal) – high-context v’s low-context cultures widely differ.
6. Business Dining Etiquette – a universal practice yet with many cultural variations.
7. Business Gift Giving – can be highly valued and an important part of business relationships.
8. Business Dress Codes – match the level of formality of your international host.
One important point to remember when conducting business abroad - it is considered polite to defer to the culture and tradition of the country you are visiting. That said, be sure to let common sense prevail. If you know your counterparts will arrive late for the meeting, err on the side of caution and arrive on time, just don’t let anyone think you’re rushing them!