Editor’s note: This article was written by Globial team member Faiza Zeshan
Cultures are diverse and they differ from country to country. Cultural differences can be shown in language, religion, food habits, clothing, socio-economic statuses, and more. However, it’s possible to move beyond cultural differences with communication and awareness–with cross cultural business communication. If you know the local customs, you’ll be able to effectively navigate any business landscape. For example, cleaning your plate in China is considered to be very rude, because somebody may think that you didn’t get enough food and you’re still hungry. Asking a chef for ketchup in France would be an insult meaning you didn’t like the food. In Japan, slurping your noodles is a compliment to the chef and shows it was so delicious that you couldn’t wait to eat it. Not finishing your plate in Pakistan is considered to be rude which means you didn’t like the food. Different cultures require different knowledge.
We communicate constantly everywhere–at home, school, work, in the groups we belong to, with our friends and with the community. No matter how well we think we understand each other, communication is hard. Culture is often the root of communication challenges. When it comes to doing business internationally, the importance of communication cannot be overstressed.
According to Jawaharlal Nehru, “It is not easy for a person of one country to enter into the background of another country. So there is great irritation, because one fact that seems obvious to us is not immediately accepted by the other party or does not seem obvious to him at all. But that extreme irritation will go when we think that he is just differently conditioned and simply can’t get out of that condition. One has to recognize that whatever the future may hold, countries and people differ in their approach to life and their ways of living and thinking”. In order to understand others; we have to understand different ways of life. When it comes to doing business, every country has a different way of tackling business matters. It is important to know how we can address the people from different cultures under one roof and give them due respect at the same time. Understanding cultural differences and overcoming language barriers is necessary in international business—those who don’t understand this will not be successful.
For example, Indians greet according to the age, therefore the eldest person in a business meeting would be greeted first. In Pakistan, dressing up for a meeting in a suit is not mandatory. People usually dress up in their traditional clothes (Kameez Shalwar) while in countries like China, India, Egypt etc, people have to dress up in a suit for a business meeting.
Do you need help communicating across cultures? An international business consulting and interpretation firm may be a good choice when dealing overseas, especially if you are inexperienced in a particular market.
One example of such a firm is Day Commerce, a company that specializes in:
International business consulting, translation, and interpreting.
We must be careful when dealing with different cultures. Doing business with other countries offers its own unique set of challenges that must be taken care of if your international venture is to be a success. The ability to communicate and respect different cultural traditions leads to success. Today, these communities and conversations are more global than ever. People should explore similarities and communicate with each other more effectively. Get to know the culture. Communication will help us understand each other and see what the world has to offer.