Tuesday, 23rd January 2018

Cross-Cultural Competence

Posted on 29. Oct, 2011 by in ENVIRONMENT, OPERATIONS

Nobody wants to be embarrassed when doing business in another country. Yes, translating your company’s website into the languages of the countries that you’d like to do business with is important, but beyond that you need to understand the country’s culture. What if you reach to shake the hand of a new Japanese business acquaintance, and you were actually supposed to bow to that person? Or what if you give a Japanese business acquaintance a clock as a gift? We need to develop cultural knowledge, cultural awareness, and cultural sensitivity to improve cross-cultural competence.

History 101—It’s important to gain cultural knowledge of the country where you want to conduct business by understanding the people’s history, values, belief systems, and behaviors. Be aware of holidays, and religious days in foreign countries – many religious holidays are official government holidays. Understand that country’s cultural norms about age groups – be respectful of the older generation. Also, keep in mind that meal times vary from country to country. In Argentina, dinner generally takes place at 9 p.m. or later. It’s important to be aware of this so that you don’t invite your business acquaintances for dinner too early. Cultural awareness—Bring down the cultural barriers through cultural awareness. Develop an understanding of the people of the country where you want to conduct business. Clear out any stereotypes that you’ve developed about that country so that you can be open and flexible towards the people. Becoming culturally aware begins with understanding the limitations of our own cultural knowledge.

Don’t be lost in translation—Be aware of the cultural differences and similarities by developing cultural sensitivity. Respect counterparts’ meeting times – time and punctuality tend to be more relaxed and flexible in some Latin American countries. Provide communications in the language of the country you are working with. Make sure you use a translation company so that you will receive professional translation. There have been too many incidents of companies sending out poor translations that insulted the people of that country.

Get local—Work with an interpreter if your business acquaintance does not speak English. For instance in Germany, many meetings are conducted in German. Also in Germany, make sure that your brochures are in English and German. And if you are writing an email or letter to schedule an appointment, make sure it’s in German. Recently, UNO Translations and Communications, LLC used a German interpreter to plan the logistics of an American company’s event in Germany. Embrace the Happy Hour—Work on the relationship first – to build trust. Be prepared to socialize. A 3-hour lunch is common in Latin America because they want to further a personal relationship before doing business together. Be aware that the physical distance between Hispanics when holding a conversation is much shorter than in other cultures.

Post By Brigitta S. Toruño (3 Posts)

Brigitta S. Toruño:

Briggita’s love of her native language, Spanish, drove her desire to work with languages and launch UNO Translations and Communications, LLC (UNO). She founded UNO in 1998 after more than a decade of work in the corporate world.


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