The world we now live in has seen what were once considered as incredibly difficult boundaries and separations broken down to such a huge extent. In a geographical sense while the distances may still be the same we are now closely linked to far away destinations, people and societies in so many ways. The way in which we have negotiated these barriers has of course had a very large impact upon the way business is dealt with. Countless amounts of companies have expanded their operations to a global scale and when there are so many individuals and groups involved in a business this naturally encompasses vastly diverse backgrounds and cultural intricacies. As a global operation relies upon having an understanding with those from different heritages it is a simply fundamental requirement to respect the cultures of others you deal with and to act accordingly in your business.
Developing an appreciation
Firstly, it is not only unreasonable but also somewhat impossible to be expected to know every aspect of each culture that you encounter. It is however perfectly possible to take the time to appreciate certain aspects and especially those that will be relevant to you with regard to your business. You cannot have an approach that is so rigid that it attempts to treat all clients and partners in the same manner.
In business, many people act in a way that reflects the ideologies of the culture they come from. You can see this in such examples as how they act with regard to the time it takes with negotiations – some take a far more gradual approach than others. It certainly pays to have an appreciation of such details because being unaware can lead to misinterpretation of actions that can have rather drastic implications in something as intricate as business.
Just as we do things differently as individuals in various cultures we also do the same with respect to our behaviour in groups. You can find certain nations and cultures that are generally rather more collective in their habits whereas others function in a clearly individual manner. This is of such relevance in business because you can fall foul of a culture’s ideals if you fail to acknowledge that you are dealing equally with a group as opposed to a sole person being in charge.
In essence it is not just an advantage to have an understanding of cultural behavior and how this shows up in business, it is now extremely important.
[author ]Article written by Julian Barnes on behalf of East Asia Business who provide inter-cultural business training.[/author]