How Cultural Differences Affect Doing Business

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Technological advancements have brought people closer. It is now possible to reach people across the globe with just a few clicks.

Biz Culture

People from different parts of the world, coming from different cultural backgrounds, are now working and communicating together. Thus, for many businesses, it is very important for managers and staff to understand cultural diversity. 

We need to be sensitive and respectful. We need to understand that what is accepted as normal in one culture may not be acceptable to another.

If your business is in a multicultural environment, understanding differences in culture will help you better deal with and motivate your business associates and employees. 

DIFFERENCES IN BUSINESS MANAGEMENT STYLES

Business management styles differ from country to country. A management style which is valued in European countries may be ineffective in the Philippines. 

You may have noticed how Filipinos often address their subordinates using their first name which is considered as a normal gesture in the Philippines. But this will be perceived as impolite in European countries. 

Many business leaders today share similar values as well as leadership styles. Nevertheless, we should note that management styles differ across countries because of the influence of political changes, the level of mobility, market globalization and the technological progress. 

Additionally, management styles also depend on the level of education, economic development, corporate culture and available technology. 

The conventional management style may vanish in time as globalization progresses and more and more businesses deal with multiple cultures and countries.

DIFFERENCES IN COMMUNICATION

In some cultures, people are loud and blunt. In other cultures people are soft-spoken, or use fancy or indirect language, or allow others to finish what they are saying before speaking up.

It is important during business meetings to adjust the way you communicate with others. One good example is to address your business partners using their last names unless you are asked to do otherwise.

The most senior business partner may be the person in charge in making decisions at a meeting. Hence, it is a must to acknowledge their status in the company as a sign of respect and to avoid leaving a bad impression.

VALUING TIME

You may have noticed that there are also differences in how people from different cultures view and value time. Some cultures may see time as a general guideline rather than something of importance. 

In business, when dealing with other people, you should always consider time as precious. Coming late to a meeting may leave a negative impression that you are lazy or uninterested. 

Take note of how your business partners value time. You will eventually learn how you and your business partner can manage time better without having to cross any line which could make one of you uncomfortable.

Americans are known to be very strict when it comes to punctuality, while Filipinos are often perceived to be more relaxed– thus the term “Filipino time” which can be mistaken for being lazy.

You should also be able to present yourself in a way that inspires respect. People should see you as someone who should be taken seriously. 

Dress appropriately and ensure that you arrive at a business meeting well-prepared. 

No matter which country you come from, doing these things will ensure than you make a good impression.

If you are flying to another country for a business meeting, try to arrive a day or two earlier to allow your body enough time to adjust. 

It may also involve having to adjust your sleeping and waking hours to the new time zone. Having enough rest and sleep allows you to be more alert so you can better handle matters and deal with cultural differences.

(Armando Bartolome is known as the Philippines’ Franchise Guru, a business mentor to numerous micro entrepreneurs who are now themselves big names in the industry. This article is reposted with the author’s permission and was previously published on The Business Mentor column posted by ABSCBN News. For questions and more information, you may contact Armando "Butz" Bartolome by email:philfranchiseguru@gmail.com or on Twitter @philfranguru. His website is www.gmb.com.ph)

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