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Business Communication Cultural Differences 57

Business Communication Cultural Differences 57

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Published by Abhinav Kalra

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Published by: Abhinav Kalra on Oct 06, 2013
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It's no secret that today's workplace is rapidly becoming vast, as the business environment expands to include various geographic locations and span numerous cultures. What can be difficult, however, is to understand how to communicate effectively with individuals who speak another language or who rely on different means to reach a common goal.

Indirect communication is preferred over direct communication in Mexico. In business communications in Mexico, it is common for colleagues to address one another by family names. First names are only used when a strong relationship has been developed. Emotions are not used when making business deals in Mexico. The lack of emotion while doing business shows that colleagues are engaged and listening. In Mexico, people stand closer to one another and eye contact is important, but in some cases to much eye contact can be seen as rude and untrustworthy. Mexico is a touching culture, more so than most cultures. For example, the United States mostly limits business touching to hand shakes, but in Mexico back- patting, greeting hugs, handshakes using both arms are common during business relations. Body language is also important in Mexican business relations. In the U.S. people tend to slouch more, but slouching in Mexico is a sign of boredom and disconnection. Mexico has several different communication norms that are different from the U.S. People in Mexico must refrain from using first names until they are told to do so and have built a strong relationship with the other individual. Titles are important and are used solely, without mentioning the last name. For example ,hello doctor In business, touching is common and withdrawing from an embrace is considered rude.

The use of titles in Australia is not as important as it is in Mexico. Australians are more informal and will be on first name basis much faster than in Mexico. However, at the first meeting Mr., Mrs., or Miss should be used as assign of respect and good business etiquette.“When first meeting, shake hands, firmly but briefly, at the beginning and end of a meeting. This is the preferred gesture for both male and female colleagues, although men should allow a woman to offer their hand first. When conducting business in Australia it important to always keep a reasonable distance between each other. Personal space is important in Australia. Good solid eye contact is a sign of trust. Discussing an individual’s personal life during a business meeting is not liked in Australia. Privacy is an important element in this country. However, small talk at the beginning of meetings is common in Australia. Small talk helps Australians gather rapport with their colleagues. “Australians will negotiate major issues in an open and direct manner, but always in accordance with company policy. It is fundamental to abide by established rules and laws rather than allow feelings to take precedence”.

Russian’s prefer the spoken word and feel that face- to- face meetings are more efficient than the written word. Patience is important in Russian and an individuals’ patience will constantly be tested. Sincerity is also important and needed to build trust and a strong relationship. Russians expect all business material to be in both English and Russian and long and detailed presentations are expected. In Russia, face- to- face meetings are used because Russians feel that more emphasis will come from the spoken word versus the written word. Standing close to colleagues while

communicating is important, but gesturing the “Ok” sign is seen as rude and impolite. Hugging, kissing, and back slapping is common in Russia. Handshake are also common while conducting business deals in Russia, but shaking hands with gloves on is considered rude and impolite. Be sure to remove gloves before handshakes. In Russia, there is little to no visual or body language during a meeting. During a meeting it is advised that little to no body movement be made and that individuals’ listen silently. Patience in important when making business deals in Russia because business deals and meetings tend to belong. It is unacceptable for a foreign business partner to be late, but it is alright is the Russian business partner is late. A foreign colleague must not show attitude with the lateness because it is a test of patience.

The Chinese will often avoid eye contact during conversations, especially when talking to the opposite sex or to strangers. Traditionally, it was considered impolite and aggressive to look directly into another's eyes while talking, and as a sign of respect, the Chinese sometimes lower their eyes slightly when they meet others. The Chinese typically have a "blank" facial expression during introductions. This is not a sign of unhappiness, dissatisfaction, or unfriendliness, but reflects the belief that there is virtue in concealing emotions. Chinese communication is ambiguous, indirect and highly contextual. In conversation, the real meaning, especially if it's negative, is often implied rather than stated. What is not said is often more important that what is said. When meeting someone for the first time for a business meeting, you should engage in general conversation before turning to business. Casual conversation topics in China differ from that of English speakers. It is not impolite to ask about a person's job, annual salary, marital/dating status or age. Although your answers need not be detailed, trying to avoid answering will only invite suspicion and misunderstanding. The specifics of your answers are not as important as your willingness to respond. In contrast, questions about family tend to be deflected or avoided. The traditional Chinese "handshake" consists of interlocking the fingers of the hands and waving them up and down several times. When greeting, a slight bow often accompanies the handshake, but do not bow from the waist in the style of the Japanese. While a firm grip is expected in the West, the Chinese employ a gentler handshake. Except for shaking hands, do not touch anyone unless you know them very well. Never embrace or slap a Chinese associate on the back. Business cards are routinely exchanged at the first meeting. When receiving a card from a Chinese businessman, take it with both hands and compliment something about it; be sure to keep it on the table in front of you for the entire meeting. Many common Western gestures are considered rude in China. 1. Pointing with the index finger - use a face-up, open hand instead 2. Beckoning someone with the index finger - use the hand with fingers motioning downward as in waving instead 3. Finger snapping 4. Showing the soles of shoes 5. Whistling to get someone's attention

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