If you travel on business abroad, bear in mind that every culture has its own codes. Here are a few tips that should enable you to avoid cultural faux pas and to negotiate under good conditions.
It is obviously impossible to master every language before you tackle a new market abroad! But the use of a few words or polite turns of phrase in the country’s language will reflect your interest and help you create a climate of trust and confidence with your talking partner. A new little gadget could perhaps help you as of this summer: an earpiece that translates automatically what your foreign interlocutors say.
Some nationalities, like the Brazilians, make contact quite easily: a pat on the shoulder, touching the arm… Conversely, reserve and a certain physical distance hold sway in other countries. In short, gestures are not interpreted in the same way everywhere on the planet. Other examples? In several Asian countries, such as China, it is strongly advised against to get upset and criticise your interlocutor in public: it’s best to stay calm and courteous under all circumstances. And whereas the Japanese do not seem to be bothered by it, it is bad form to use your mobile phone whilst at a meeting in the UK.
- Business customs
In some parts of the world, a simple little gift may be taken as a bribe, while in others, it is customary to offer such gifts to facilitate the negotiations. Furthermore, starting to talk business immediately is bad form in many countries in the East and Latin America. To get an idea of their interlocutor, businessmen prefer to speak of this and that (family, health, etc.) before going into the subject.
In summary? Before you embark on the conquest of a foreign market, it is imperative to prepare your trip carefully. The aim: grasp the language, standards, habits and customs, the way of living and working of your prospect to the maximum so as to avoid committing a blunder that could upset and harm your project irremediably.