The ability to communicate is the greatest gift that a man has. Can you imagine a life where you cannot communicate with anyone? If just imagining is so difficult; how difficult would it really be?
Communication forms an integral part of our life. And the way we communicate in our personal and business interactions shows a great deal of our personality. The way we communicate is equally essential as communication.
Importance of Cross Cultural Business Communication
Communication is important in every facet of our lives. And business is one of those facets that really needs effective communication. Business communication is not limited to interaction with clients. It also entails interacting with colleagues within a professional setting. While the world has become a global village, business interactions are not restricted to people of one country. You will interact with people of different countries while doing business around the world.
Let’s understand the importance of cross-cultural business communication with the help of a scenario.
- Mr. John Doe, a Spaniard, wanted to get a Software customized for his company and he approached two companies—ABC Corp. and XYZ Corp. with his requirements.
- Both the companies promptly responded to Mr. Doe’s queries and the offerings in terms of price and quality of both the companies were almost the same. Mr. Doe requested a meeting and a presentation.
- At ABC Corp., Mr. Doe met the representative who was well dressed and well prepared for the meeting. The representative listened to Mr. Doe’s requirements and offered customized solutions. He acted professionally and closed the meeting appropriately.
- At XYZ Corp., the representative who met Mr. Doe was also well dressed and well prepared. This representative met Mr. Doe and greeted “Buenos días”—Spanish for Good Morning. This prompted an immediate connect. Mr. Doe was delighted to be greeted in his native language. The representative made an impression in the first go. He did some small talks with Mr. Doe to build a connection because in Spanish culture it is considered rude to talk straight to the point without chit chatting. The meeting started and ended in the same way as that in ABC Corp.
In the first situation, the representative acted professionally and followed the established code of business to start and end the meeting. But, in the second situation, the representative paid attention to creating delight for the customer by adding a personal touch. Because the services offered by both the companies were same, XYZ Corp. got an edge because of this personal touch.
Steps to Enhance Your Cross-Cultural Business Communication
- Dress Appropriately: Communication is not limited to words. We all communicate even without speaking. Think of how you tend to form an impression about a person based on his or her clothes. Therefore, dress appropriately. In business meetings, the most appropriate attire is formal or business casuals. Nowadays, formal does not imply only proper suits. It includes smart casuals. Under no circumstances should you wear ripped denims or ganjis to a business meeting.
If you are meeting a client from a different culture, a little bit of research about the acceptable dress code of that culture will take you a long way. Also, look at occasion. If you are meeting a client at a dinner party, you might want to avoid a business suit.
- Greetand Meet Warmly: It is extremely important to initiate a business communication on a good note. The most appropriate way is to greet warmly.
If you are meeting a client from different culture, do a little bit of research and personalize your greeting. For example, try Konnichi wa for Japanese clients or Bonjour for French clients.
Take care of your posture and body movements while communicating. Things that should be kept in mind is to maintain healthy eye contact, have a comfortable distance with the person, etc.
In American culture, it is very common for people both men and women to shake hands in business interaction; however, in some cultures, it is not considered appropriate for a man and a woman to shake hands. These kind of considerations should be kept in mind.
- Respond Responsibly: Always make the client feel important by listening to what they have to say rather than jumping in. In a business set up, it is important to understand what the client wants and to respond to those needs accordingly. A business’s inability to comprehend a client’s specific needs means loss and a dissatisfied customer who could have been a potential publicist for your business.
Cross-cultural meetings are not the perfect place to showcase your vocabulary. Use simple words that can be easily understood by people who might not be fluent with your language.
In cross-cultural business communication, there is a need to be patient and listen carefully. There is no harm in clarifying your understanding by using phrases like—“Correct me if I am wrong,” “My understanding is that . . .,”etc.Also try to end the meeting with minutes of the meeting to ensure that there is no scope of confusion.
This article has been written by Ethan Millar. Ethan is an experienced technical writer for Java web development at Aegis Softtech. He can also writes for Asp.net, Big Data, Hadoop and CRM. To get more ideas for his writing, Follow him on Twitter.Tags: Business communication, Java, Java web development