CEOs and International Communication Barriers

The world is increasingly becoming multicultural. Business needs to adapt to different cultural environments if they intend to be more competitive.

In the modern era, trade and commerce are increasingly becoming global. This can be witnessed in the rise of e-commerce, banking, money transfer, and international exports and imports. Therefore, for a business to thrive in a globalized and highly competitive market, it is a must to understand the different cultures of those you intend to trade with.

You can hire top-class translation services to ensure that you effectively communicate your message to enhance market acceptance of your goods and services in foreign countries. For this purpose, traders, multi-national companies, and international organizations hire the language translator services to convert the message of their campaigns effectively according to local requirements. They translate the message with respect to cultural context.

Cross-Cultural Difficulties in International Trade

It is a known fact that different individuals have diverse perceptions, interests, and ideals. This also applies to culture. By definition, culture refers to the set of commonly accepted values, standards, and models held by a given society. Therefore, as a business, you cannot expect everybody to react to your strategy in the same manner. For this reason, your success in a multicultural environment highly depends on your proper understanding of cultural differences and concepts. Translation services can significantly assist in this process.

For instance, there are both low-context and high-context cultures. Most western countries are low-context cultures, whereby communication is expected to be direct and concise. On the other hand, countries such as Russia and far east nations consist of high-context cultures whereby communication is subtle and implicit. However, in terms of negative feedback, high-context cultures are direct in rejection, while low-context countries are indirect in their negative feedback.

It is also essential to build trust in your business relationships. In some countries, it is prudent to spend some time together and build rapport with business partners. Such activities might involve invitations to dinner, lunch, etc. however, other countries take a more casual approach to building relationships.

Another critical concept to understand while building a business relationship is the comfort of silence. In some western countries, awkward silences, even for a couple of seconds, are considered disturbing. Therefore, the support of silence is deemed to be low.  However, in other countries, mostly in Asia, the support of silence is relatively high. People are fine with silences that can extend over 30 seconds. As such, Asians usually find it difficult to hold meetings involving people from western nations.

For this reason, cultural sensitivity is one factor to observe while undertaking cross-cultural business activities such as negotiations. Respect all cultural differences even if you do not agree with them.

How to Gain the Most Out of a Cross-Cultural Environment

Understanding and appreciating cultural differences can offer you much knowledge and give you quality oversight in tackling business-related issues. You gain a better position to overcome all possible barriers in international trade.

Another factor to consider is how different people perceive culture about the contextual situation of the business activity. What one society considers acceptable corporate behavior might be inappropriate business etiquette in a different culture.

Primarily, cultural differences influence international business in three key areas. These are communication, etiquette, and institutional hierarchy. Once you correctly understand their possible effects on your business, you shall be able to avoid any miscommunication and misunderstandings while dealing with foreign colleagues or clients.

  • Communication

Quality Communication is the #1 factor when it comes to international trade. Even though English is the universal business language, there are some nations whereby English is not a primary or secondary language. Therefore, never assume that everybody will understand English.

One method through which you can bridge the communication gap is through language. It is prudent to understand cultural differences in style. Some cultures prefer direct and open communications, whereas some are more indirect and nuanced. In addition to verbal communication, you also need to learn how to decipher non-verbal cues while dealing with international commerce.

  • Interactions

There might be some casual gestures that might be common and trivial in your home country. These might include hugging, active eye contact, kissing on the cheeks or firm handshakes. However, in some regions, such gestures might have an offensive connotation concerning your foreign business partners. For this reason, take some time to learn about the acceptable business ethics observed in a particular region. There are situations whereby you can rely on body language, and there are some cases in which it is better to seek clarification instead of making assumptions.

  • Workplace etiquette

While in a multicultural business environment, you need awareness of international business etiquette. First, you need to be aware of the acceptable business attire within a particular country or region. In some societies, there is no issue in addressing someone by their first name. This is the case in countries such as America, Canada, and some other western countries. In some counters, people prefer to be addressed in a formal setting through their surnames in addition to adding the titles Mr. or Ms.

Being on time is a factor that varies from one region to another. In countries such as the USA, Russia, Canada, Japan, and South Korea, you need to be present for a meeting at the agreed time. There are some countries whereby you are expected to arrive for a meeting even 10 minutes before it officially starts. In some states, the foreigner is expected to be right on time while the host can delay for a few minutes. What’s more, other countries have mixed expectations. In case of delays, you can inform your partners of your lateness, or even make plans to be there before time.

Organizational Hierarchy Within Organizations

Different cultures observe norms in terms of institutional hierarchy or management. There are cultures in which Junior employees and middle management staff might or might not be allowed to contribute during meetings with business partners. What’s more, in some regions, nobody is allowed to question or challenge decisions and opinions expressed by senior officials.

Other cultures value respect for older adults or people in authoritative positions. This also translates into the work environment. Those at junior levels are supported to be submissive to those in authority and address them respectfully.

In countries that value social equality such as most Scandinavian states, organizational hierarchies are usually few to non-existent. The work culture demands cooperation across all levels. For this reason, informal communication is predominant.

Different Methods of Negotiation

In international business, negotiation is inevitable. Culture has a significant influence on people’s attitudes towards negotiation. For this reason, companies need to understand how differences in lifestyle will affect their communication.

For instance, in Spain, negotiations are considered as an avenue to reach a consensus. In some Asian nations, talks are perceived as a way of building rapport and a strong relationship with the client. The method of communication also matters. For instance, Americans seem to be direct in their negotiations and require all the specifics of the contract. On the other hand, cultures such as Japanese favor subtlety in communication. You need to be observant to understand the insinuations. Other countries negotiate emotionally while some only require the general principles of the contract.

Gaining a Competitive Edge in The Global Market Via Professional Services

One way of enhancing a multicultural understanding is through hiring professional translators. This makes it easier to learn and understand the concepts since you will be working with language and cultural experts. There are many companies with professional in-country translators with a rich indigenous knowledge of a given culture. This ensures that you precisely meet all your international marketing and business needs.

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