We are living in a multicultural society, and as businesses overseas begin to work more and more with companies within the United States, it is becoming necessary to understand and think about how your business is interacting with international clients.
If your business works with clients or other businesses from overseas, there may be cultural differences between your styles of working that you struggle to understand. To avoid any embarrassing gaffes, follow these simple tips to work with international clients.
Study The Culture
Some cultures have traditions around doing business that are very specific, and your business partners or clients could be insulted if you don’t follow them. For example, if you are doing business with someone from Japan, it is common to bow, rather than shake hands, as a greeting. Additionally, when entering a home, you should remove your shoes. There is even a specific etiquette around giving and receiving business cards!
Other cultures may not have as strict a conception of being “on time” as the United States do. You may see it as disrespectful if they show up five minutes late, while to them, it’s just how things are done.
Understanding traditional differences between cultures is a big part of making sure your business transactions go smoothly and no feathers are ruffled.
Hire A Translator
Although many people of many cultures speak English these days, your client or business partner may be put more at ease if you go the extra mile and hire a fluent translator.
Translators are becoming more popular these days. They are hired everywhere from offices to hospitals to help facilitate communication.
A translator will also be able to tell you what cultural signals and gestures mean. They can provide a better, more rounded explanation of what the other person means, rather than just translating what they are saying word for word.
Even if you have done all your homework and carefully studied the other culture, a translator can provide valuable insight.
This is important in any business transaction, yet still, many people allow respect to fall by the wayside. Acting in a respectful way can take you very far. Sometimes, business people who are competitive and trying to get the upper hand see respect as weakness, but the truth is a little politeness can open many doors.
A great example can be seen in Lisa Ling’s book The Spirit Catches You And You Fall Down. This book centers around the story of how an advanced American hospital was unable to help a little girl with a very treatable condition (epilepsy) because the doctors did not respect the traditions of her culture.
This is a great book to read if you are working with people whose culture is different from your own. It underscores the importance of humility and understanding when working with international clients.