In today's business environment, you are likely to encounter coworkers, customers, and suppliers from different countries. Such an environment is a breeding ground for potential cross-cultural communication issues. An improper gesture or unseemly manner of speech can offend someone who comes from a different cultural background.
The best way to avoid potential conflicts is to learn more about different cultures, specifically how they do business. Here are some general impressions of how different nationalities conduct business:
- Americans live in an individualistic society. In business, this means that their employees are given enough leeway to make decisions on their own
- Japanese, on the other hand, have a more collectivistic attitude. They will do what is best for the group, and will often confer with other before making a decision.
- Germans have very exacting personalities. They value precision and discipline. When doing business with them, make sure to always be on time and be detail-oriented.
- Italians have more laid-back attitude. They are very expressive when conversing and like to use a lot of hand gestures. Be ready to converse with them before doing business.
- Indians like getting value for their money. As such, be prepared to negotiate by knowing what concessions you can and cannot offer.
These will always be exceptions to the rule. If you do encounter someone who doesn't conform to their cultural norms, be ready to adjust accordingly. When in doubt, just remember that being amiable and respectful will always translate no matter the culture.