Why Observing Foreign Culture Can Lead To Business Success

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In the world of business, English is widely acknowledged as the universal language.  However, despite using a common language, it is not uncommon for misunderstandings to occur.  Differences in cultural and business practices mean that business travelers should be aware of varying customs, etiquette and cultural differences when conducting business abroad.

When conducting international business, it is extremely important for business representatives to be aware of different cultural beliefs and behaviour.  After all, behaviour which might be considered normal in a UK boardroom could be radically different to behaviour expected in Saudi Arabia or China.  As a result, failure to understand foreign business practices and customs can create insurmountable barriers to successful business relations.  Conversely, taking a little time to learn these cultural differences can reap rewards and help build strong business relationships.

The age-old saying “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” is sometimes a wise adage to bear in mind when conducting business with foreign clients.  In the UK, for example, meetings are often business-like and tend to follow a rigid time-based structure where points are debated at given times.  However, in Japan and other Asian countries, there is great importance attached to courtesy and hospitality which can cause delays and prevent keeping to a strict schedule.

Certainly, in many parts of Asia, forming a personal relationship in your business dealings is very important.  Although it can take time to build, once a relationship has been developed, it tends to last for a very long time and can be advantageous over the more ‘shallow’ relationships found in Europe and the United States.  In some business cultures, establishing friendships can be a potent business tool, so it is important to take the time to establish such relationships with prospective clients.

Another important cultural difference to observe is the difference in greeting business counterparts.  In the UK, a firm hand-shake is considered polite as is making brief eye-contact.  In China, bowing or nodding is the common greeting, and although shaking hands is becoming a popular form of greeting, this should be initiated by the host.

Personal space should also be observed according to the dominant culture.  In the UK and Europe, personal space is valued and an acceptable distance should be kept.  However, in some southern European countries and Asia, personal space is much decreased so that what could be perceived as intimate in the north is akin to normal conversational distance in the south.

Regardless of the location of business meetings, whether in the boardroom of a London Company or the restaurant of a business hotel in Dubai, it is important to be aware of the many cultural differences that exist between east and west, north and south.  While some traits are worldwide, such as ensuring punctuality at the start of a meeting, other traits are much more subtle.  Taking the time to understand those traits and the differences in cultural and business etiquette can mean the difference between business success and an unsigned contract.
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Article Author: Adam Singleton

Adam Singleton is an online, freelance journalist and keen amateur photographer.  His portfolio, called Capquest Photography is available to view online.

Article Source: http://www.articlealley.com/article_178324_15.html

About the Author:  http://netpressarticles.com/

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Differences In Japanese And British Business Culture

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When doing business in a foreign country it is always vital to understand differences in culture. This helps to avoid misunderstandings and allows development of positive and long-lasting business relationships. Knowing the differences in business etiquette between British and Japanese culture could be what lands you a lucrative contract or a lucrative new job. While Japanese businesspeople understand that you will not understand all of their culture and business etiquette they will notice and appreciate your genuine efforts.

Relationships

The Japanese generally do business based on personal relationships. Being introduced by a person who has a good relationship with the company is very helpful. You may be given a small trial to prove yourself. Even if this request is non-profitable, completing it quickly and well helps develop a long-term relationship.

Gift Giving

Gifts are very important in Japanese culture. Always give a small gift at the end of a meeting to the most senior member. Consult with a Japanese person on an appropriate gift. Many flowers such as camellias are associated with death and potted plants encourage sickness. If you receive a gift, do not open it in the presence of the giver.

Business Meetings

Meetings should be arranged by telephone well in advance. Punctuality is imperative. Seating is arranged with the most junior member nearest the door and the most senior furthest away. Do not be surprised if meetings contain several people, even if you thought it would be a one-on-one meeting. You will be expected to have a document containing information about your company, testimonials from customers and other companies and newspaper or magazine articles. It is best to come to a meeting with your best offer, as this is what will be expected.

Communication

Consensus and group decision-making is the norm in Japanese culture. Questions should be phrased in such a way that even negative answers can be given with a yes. For example “Do you think this is a bad idea?” rather than “Do you agree?”. Japanese businesspeople may be silent while considering issues and may close their eyes while listening carefully. Confrontational negotiation styles such as raised voices or anger will be frowned upon. Contracts are generally broad with room for re-negotiation and flexibility rather than rigid and point-by-point. However, written contracts are always expected.

Business Dress

Japanese business culture is quite conservative and avant-garde fashions will not be appreciated. Conservative business dress is always appropriate in Japan, especially for women. Suits should be dark-coloured without flashy accessories.

Business Cards

Business cards are very important in Japanese culture and you should always have a ready supply. The quality of your business cards and their condition is highly important also. When you receive a business card examine it carefully and treat it with respect. After meetings, place received business cards in a special case. Investing in business cards written in Japanese is a gesture of goodwill that will be appreciated. Give and receive business cards in both your hands and with a small bow.

Article by Linguarama:

Take a language course with Linguarama to improve your language skills, or prepare for a foreign business trip with some Cultural Competence Training.

Article Source: http://www.articlealley.com/article_2080678_22.html

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Differences In Japanese And British Business Culture

0

When doing business in a foreign country it is always vital to understand differences in culture. This helps to avoid misunderstandings and allows development of positive and long-lasting business relationships. Knowing the differences in business etiquette between British and Japanese culture could be what lands you a lucrative contract or a lucrative new job. While Japanese businesspeople understand that you will not understand all of their culture and business etiquette they will notice and appreciate your genuine efforts.

Relationships

The Japanese generally do business based on personal relationships. Being introduced by a person who has a good relationship with the company is very helpful. You may be given a small trial to prove yourself. Even if this request is non-profitable, completing it quickly and well helps develop a long-term relationship.

Gift Giving

Gifts are very important in Japanese culture. Always give a small gift at the end of a meeting to the most senior member. Consult with a Japanese person on an appropriate gift. Many flowers such as camellias are associated with death and potted plants encourage sickness. If you receive a gift, do not open it in the presence of the giver.

Business Meetings

Meetings should be arranged by telephone well in advance. Punctuality is imperative. Seating is arranged with the most junior member nearest the door and the most senior furthest away. Do not be surprised if meetings contain several people, even if you thought it would be a one-on-one meeting. You will be expected to have a document containing information about your company, testimonials from customers and other companies and newspaper or magazine articles. It is best to come to a meeting with your best offer, as this is what will be expected.

Communication

Consensus and group decision-making is the norm in Japanese culture. Questions should be phrased in such a way that even negative answers can be given with a yes. For example “Do you think this is a bad idea?” rather than “Do you agree?”. Japanese businesspeople may be silent while considering issues and may close their eyes while listening carefully. Confrontational negotiation styles such as raised voices or anger will be frowned upon. Contracts are generally broad with room for re-negotiation and flexibility rather than rigid and point-by-point. However, written contracts are always expected.

Business Dress

Japanese business culture is quite conservative and avant-garde fashions will not be appreciated. Conservative business dress is always appropriate in Japan, especially for women. Suits should be dark-coloured without flashy accessories.

Business Cards

Business cards are very important in Japanese culture and you should always have a ready supply. The quality of your business cards and their condition is highly important also. When you receive a business card examine it carefully and treat it with respect. After meetings, place received business cards in a special case. Investing in business cards written in Japanese is a gesture of goodwill that will be appreciated. Give and receive business cards in both your hands and with a small bow.

Article  by Linguarama:

Take a language course with Linguarama to improve your language skills, or prepare for a foreign business trip with some Cultural Competence Training.

Article Source: http://www.articlealley.com/article_2080678_22.html

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