The expression “money talks” suggests that the monetary aspect is the single most important aspect of doing good business. To be honest, this is true, since money can break the language barrier between two businessmen from different parts of the world. It’s a language of its own as it’s more about numbers than anything else. However, there are numerous other factors you should consider when meeting a potential business client. Culture and business are connected in more than a few ways, and here we will take a look at how exactly businesses get affected by culture.
When we say communication, we don’t necessarily mean talking. Some findings suggest that facial expressions and body language are far more important than speaking during a business meeting. While revealing the emotions on your face will probably be easily understood regardless of the culture, some aspects of your expressions might not. Eye-contact is considered positive during a business encounter in the USA, but some other cultures might find it uncomfortable. Touching while greeting is fairly common in Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, and some parts of Africa. However, some Asian countries avoid any physical contact during the introduction. Talking casually about religion or politics might be a little touchy, so it’s best to avoid it. Different cultures have different senses of humor, so don’t expect everybody to laugh at a particular joke. Try to learn at least a few words from a language of your foreign associates, like “hello,” “thank you,” or “you’re welcome.” Make sure to know the traditions and holidays of the countries you are doing business with.
When it comes to clothes, you should probably keep it simple. The suits are accepted almost everywhere, so you can’t go wrong with that. Some countries expect you to dress up, and this can mean that wearing a tie is mandatory. Other cultures are more flexible when it comes to clothing. Many companies in America have a weekday when they can go to work in their casual clothes. Try to avoid dressing like a business person from a country you’re visiting, since it may come off as offensive. Represent your own culture, and you will be respected.
Lunches and Dinners
Business meetings do not necessarily take place in an office. It is quite common for you and your associates to go to lunch or dinner. This is where a lot of cultures differ, whether in terms of how and what they eat, or in which order. If you are sitting at a table in a foreign country, you should observe how the locals eat their food, but be subtle and don’t stare. In some cultures, paying for the bill as a host is considered respectful, while others might be offended by such a gesture. For example, Germans like to split the bill and pay for what they each ordered. In North America, it’s practically a rule not to let a client anywhere near the receipt. Always try the local cuisine, and even if you don’t like it, you should at least have a bite.
When it comes to drinking, you should be careful as to where you are. Some Muslim countries forbid alcoholic beverages. If you are in Japan and Korea, you should fill everyone’s glasses, but let another person fill your own. Avoid controversial subjects and try not to be loud or to get drunk.