When we are working closely with people of different cultures and nations we need to interact with different ways and uses which are completely new for us and which we are not prepared for.
In these cases, it is important not only to know how to speak the local language but also to understand the differences between the various countries. By doing this, we will be able to put the interlocutor to feel comfortable and prevent unpleasant embarrassments or misunderstandings.
The cultural differences that one can find, and which one must learn to recognize, are various, among which:
- Different ways to say something
- How to manage the encounter and handshake
- The exchange of business cards
- How to present yourself
Knowing how to get involved in a local cultural behavior can be much more useful than learning the language of the country where you are working, (also because English has become the business language).
To understand how important is to know the cultural behaviors first, it is enough to think that exchanging business cards in a presentation meeting in Japan is considered a very important gesture to be respected and honored. The business card should be taken with both hands, sometimes admiring, and carefully placed. A gesture that is almost trivial for us, an underlining of kindness, in this case is of great importance because that single ticket represents the individual we are facing.
From this thought follows that the whole deal must be treated with respect by paying close attention and care.
The theme of punctuality is complicated and varies from country to country. In Brazil, arriving late indicates relaxation and commercial success compared to who is “obsessed” by the clock. In Italy, the boss is always late (more or less like the bride at the altar), thus emphasizing his position. However, in Netherlands arriving late demonstrate a total inadequate business behaviour because “if you do not know how to manage your time, you will not be able to handle the job.
Head movements can also deceive you. In Greece, the “old” generation has the habit of nodding by moving the head from right to left (or viceversa) and denying with a gesture from top to bottom. This behavior, contrary to the traditional one, is not shared by the “new” generation, thus causing various problems of understanding. In doubt you should always ask.
Finally in almost all countries of the world if you come out for dinner with business partners and / or clients, the “host” offers the evening. In Turkey, for example, the idea of dividing the cost of dinner is alien to the business world. If you do not want to embarrass your guest you should thanks for the evening and return it at the first time.
From these few lines we can see that all countries are different from one another and that is why we can come up with various new business opportunities. Therefore, Knowing and exploiting cultural diversity is necessary and extremely important.