In Proceedings By Natalia

Cultural understanding in business or what you need to know about other cultures

Worried before a business meeting? Read our tips and everything will go smoothly!

Cultural understanding is very important. Everyone knows that even a way of greeting each other is different in different countries. Needless to say how valuable to know the tradition for a successful business. Ironically, a lot of confidence businessmen uncomfortable at business meetings without this knowledge.

I was lucky enough to live and work abroad: in the UK, Austria and China. So I was always interested in the features of the world culture.

So similar and so different

But before I talk about cultural differences, let’s think about what is the norm for us?

If we can be quite common to have dinner in the dining room or cafeteria, in some countries or cultures, canteens and lunch can not in principle be. In the UK, workers are just «grab a sandwich» (just grab a sandwich), t. E. Lunch on the go or while working. And if the meeting was delayed until dinner, the staff can treat snacks (light refreshments).

And if you take the foreign partners, the least thing to do — is to treat them to lunch. So be sure to check that in the place where you will dine, the food is suitable for your guests. If you need to check with the cook of the institution, which consist of unknown dishes. Hiking in the cafe or bar can be a good alternative to an informal lunch, you can order something light. In Spain, for example, it can be tapas (tapas), Italy — ice cream.

Major business partners are likely to count for lunch or dinner in the restaurant. In the US, for example, it is common to invite partners to his home for dinner. In South America, it may be an informal barbecue. So, if you were not honored guests from these countries in a similar way, you simply deem cold and inhospitable.

Be friendly and hospitable to foreign partners.

I know from my own experience that the Chinese will be happy to go shopping (so they themselves entertain guests in their free time), so such activities should be planned in advance. Of course, not be superfluous to show local attractions and what you are proud of. The Chinese partners always find the time to please their guests cultural trips to the temples, mountains and parks. We should not forget about karaoke. Singing representatives have no equal under heaven! Their karaoke bars can easily compete with our entertainment centers. So I advise raspetsya. 🙂

In some countries, including the US and UK, golf is very popular as a way of combining business and pleasure. In Finland, you may be invited into the sauna with business partners. If you are invited to China on a formal banquet, it means that you have a high status.


Whether it is necessary to conduct foreign guests in the restaurant, serving their country (for example, an Irish pub for the British or Chinese restaurant for Chinese)?

Some guests may appreciate your efforts and thank you for the familiar food. On the other hand, many Indian and Chinese restaurants in other countries can not boast of authentic food, dishes are usually adapted to local tastes. Surely one of the guests want to taste local products. It is best to give them a couple of alternative dishes to choose from. If you meet a group of guests from different countries, a good solution would be a buffet (buffet), in this case, be sure to sign the names of the dishes in English.

What to do when you need to go to China, where, as they say, eat strange things, such as fried scorpions? How to respond to the offer of such a food that would not eat, not to offend anyone?

The concept of «edible» is very different in different countries. If the horse meat is considered a delicacy in France, the UK such food — a taboo. How to react when ceremonially put on the table a tray of rice, which surrounds the circle «rota» fried Skorpionchik? I confess, if you are not extreme, then you need to have at least a good actor. In my case, curiosity won. Hand, however, stubbornly pulls scorpion from your mouth, but at the third attempt the mind won. It tastes awesome arthropod appeared very similar to roasted sunflower seeds. But if you are seeing just such surprises are not a laughing matter, it is better to cheat, saying that you already ate more nowhere. Directly impolite to refuse.

What to do when you persistently offered a drink (well accepted in many countries, as we know), and a lot of alcohol — it’s not for you?

Today, the ratio of alcohol in the world is changing, but still a business meeting, where a lot of drinking, are not uncommon. It is necessary to use the well-known throughout the excuse that you do not allow health to drink alcohol. Just take care that you then no one would see in a restaurant for a glass of wine. 😉 By the way, in Austria for alcohol at business dinners in restaurants are cold (at least in my experience of our partners). But in China, the successful completion of the project may require good health. So if you do decide, first eat something greasy to absorb alcohol.

What if the Chinese partners are inviting you to karaoke, but you need to prepare for the presentation for tomorrow?

Do not be too prim in an informal setting.

Even if it is an important presentation, communication with your Chinese colleagues can be very productive and useful. Nobody expects that you will sing like Sinatra. The whole point of karaoke is to unburden himself (to let your hair down) and remember that all of us — ordinary people. Believe me, in this situation, your partners will be opened in a new way. Karaoke bars subordination disappears, which means new opportunities for easy solutions of difficulties in the negotiations. I advise. Very fun pastime (for all participants).

Who should order food and pay in a restaurant?

In some countries, for example in China, the host orders for the whole group. Food is served on the table for all meals much. In Austria, as well as in the UK, it is quite common situation where one person (for example, the party that takes) pays the bill, and then divide it all the band members.

Working with representatives of another culture is always interesting and informative. We all live in different ways and have different traditions. In my opinion, the main thing — respect the cultures of other nations, even if you do not quite understand. So surely it will be easier to achieve success in intercultural communication and business. Good luck!



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