Doing business in a country with different traditions needs flexibility and adaptability to go forward, but what about international business? These operations are a challenge that is based on the aforementioned flexibility and adaptation but, in order to optimize the success rate, the knowledge of habits (food, clothing, patience, greetings), history (humor, language), working styles and, in a broad sense, the culture of the “other” market (business etiquette and practices, punctuality, gifts, cards and introductions, presentations, religion) are also required.
I also think that Professor Pankaj Ghemawat´s contribution (tw) is rather good: In a very visual way, and through maps, he facilitates the understanding of both, cultural characteristics of different people, and countries, as their flows.
The perception of your brand or your personal image can be damaged by things as simple as:
- Numbers, is it true that the number 13 suggests bad luck ?, Yes, generally speaking and in Western cultures but not in Italy; What about this issue in China? It is not a problem to mention 13 but don´t do it with 4 (the pronunciation sounds very close to another word, meaning death, and therefore is very unpleasant)… If you give a present, think about the number/amount and the packaging.
- Business cards, is the translation of your name or brand correct? Will people understand what you do/offer? The colors and style, are they appropriate?, Do you know how to exchange cards?.
Communication -at all levels-, should not also exceed the expectations of your customer, but also is important to fit into the context of the recipient (the idea is to avoid the famous “lost in translation” that goes far beyond language); that being said, it has to be sensitive to the target audience and to achieve real resonance in the addressee´s head.
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