In the business world, cross-cultural negotiations and affiliations occur, especially if the business is larger in scope. A business organization that can provide world-class service thrives in the business. Corporate individuals must possess the skills that can be a competitive edge to the global industry. Adaptability or flexibility is an essential factor.
Specifically in socializing with business people of different race or nationality, being able to demonstrate the desirable business and social etiquettes appropriate for the standards of the culture of the other party is one of the keys to a successful business relationship in the international aspect.
Different countries vary in culture and tradition, although there are internationally acceptable and observed standards across the board. Along with this are the differences in social practices or norms as well as the standard etiquettes. In business, senior executives should learn and understand the cultural business etiquette of their foreign affiliates. Having the ability to blend in their cultural protocols increases the level of respect and the chance of sealing the business contract, thus, making the business grow globally.
Nonverbal Cross-Cultural Manners
Nonverbal communication is not as universally perceived and understood as spoken or verbal communication. Gestures and certain body movements may have different interpretations from one country to another. That is why in the world of international business, nonverbal form of communicating and interacting with each other is highly crucial.
The manner of greeting and introduction may not be the same for all countries. Some take a more formal approach especially that of Asian regions. For example, in Japan and Korea, bowing of the heads instead of a handshake is the way to greet an individual. In business meetings, the elderly or the senior officers always extend the hand first. However, in India, the women normally do not shake hands with the men. But in Western regions, a handshake is the common gesture during an introduction. British and Germans may offer two or more pumps when doing a handshake. Americans are very demonstrative with handshakes in business as a sign of confidence and interest.
Touching is not very common among Asian countries in the business and social setting. So, patting the back to achiever women employees is not common in countries like Japan, India, and Singapore.
The “thumbs up” gesture which North American senior officers show to junior employees for a good job does not mean acknowledgement but offensive in other countries such as Australia.
Good Etiquette in Cross-Cultural Verbal Interaction
When engaging in a conversation in a business meeting or event with international investors and clients, be very mindful of the proper use of words and their language. Americans find it offensive when their foreign affiliates speak in their native tongue in their presence. A company located off the coast run by an American will more likely implement an English-only policy within the workplace.
Generally, the use of cultural jargon or slang is not advisable as this may cause misunderstanding and misinterpretation. Probably, it is a universally standard etiquette to avoid the use of foul and offensive language in the native tongue to foreign clients. Some cultures will appreciate it better if the verbal greeting used is in their own language. For example, Indian businessmen will feel more welcomed if you greet them by saying “Namaste” which is their local counterpart for “Hello”.
Cross-Cultural Etiquette during Corporate Events
Business invitations made by an international client is a good way to socialize and expand your networks. But this is best done when you show to the client your respect for their culture during business occasions. Some cultures require their attendees to bring gifts or a token. Learn the proper table manner of the particular culture of the host.
If the host is Asian, the use of silver forks and knives is not appropriate but chopsticks are used to eat your food. Asians are very particular with corporate hierarchy even in the seating arrangement. In any international event, eat the food that is served as a sign of respect and appreciation.
Business professionals would appreciate doing business with other companies around the world if they feel comfortable and respected. When dealing with business at an international level, the key to success is to observe cultural sensitivity both in verbal and nonverbal communication and applying the proper cultural etiquette.