Global Business:
Cross-cultural Understanding

Is your staff talking to all your customers and suppliers the same way? (They shouldn’t, and here’s why.)

Not everyone speaks the same language.

And now you’re now wondering why I’ve just made the world’s most obvious statement.  Because it applies in so many ways:

  • Do all people who speak English use the same words, meanings or turns of phrase?
  • Does everyone who comes from the same country have the same viewpoint?
  • Do all industries have the same motivations or priorities?

The answer to each of these questions is a resounding ‘no’, so why would you talk to them all in the same way? Possibly because on the one hand it seems easier: develop one message or tactic and use it again and again. Easier it may be, but effective it is not.

For instance, we know that attitudes, language and behaviour vary from Vancouver to St. John’s, so why do we mistakenly lump everyone from another country into a ‘country bucket’? Different locations have different attitudes, priorities and outlooks, even if they happen to work in the same industry.

  • Assuming everyone is ‘speaking the same language’ leads to costly miscommunication.
  • Assuming everyone is coming to a meeting with the same viewpoint leads to costly misunderstanding.
  • Assuming everyone has the same motivations or priorities leads to costly negotiations.

“We really have everything in common with America nowadays except, of course, language” – The Canterville Ghost, Oscar Wilde

It’s knowing and understanding this that makes the difference when you are trying to build supplier and customer relationships, sell and negotiate with people from other cultures.

These days, in our oh-so-accessible global society, we no longer have to go far afield to find ourselves doing business with other cultures – be they cultures based in heritage, location or industry.

Whether you are in London, Toronto, Delhi or Dubai, an understanding of cultural nuances will not only demonstrate that you are professional, thoughtful and grasp the tenets of good business but will also facilitate conversation and negotiation.

“Hilary has tremendous organizational skills as well as the ability to stay collected and grounded in the most trying situations. More importantly, Hilary has the ability to work across different cultures and in that respect is Global in the true sense of the term.” – Ambika Nair, General Manager, Thomson Reuters, India

Cultural awareness is a two-way street. In addition to understanding how your words, actions and body language are being interpreted by others, cultural awareness allows you to interpret their behaviour as well, therefore helping mitigate misunderstanding.

The more you know and understand the various cultures that make up your business world, the richer (in every sense of the word) you will be.

We are able to tailor sessions and/or briefing documents for you that cover the ins and outs of doing business cross-culturally, be it at home or abroad.

Don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss how we can help with your success.