Career Corner

Cultural Differences Experienced By a Business Expat.

“In international business communities, people don’t stick around long. As soon as you’ve made a good friend, they are usually ready to be shipped off elsewhere,” warns Clarke.

A research published in the Harvard Business Review shows that people who have international experience are better problem solvers and display more creativity. And so the current generation demands you to be a global citizen, and while becoming a global citizen, we often face the problem of Cultural Differences. They tend to be amusing misunderstandings at times, but can also have a serious impact on your career.

“Working abroad often gets you great exposure to higher level, more complex issues sooner in your career.” – Simon Kent, the managing director of consulting firm Navigant. And so having international experience is a huge benefit for you and your career, especially if you work in a multinational firm or with international businesses. People who haven’t had that sort of experience can sometimes be held back a bit – at least at first. Thus, a successful overseas posting may significantly increase your chances of promotion upon your return to your own country. You should always try to make the most of your experience as an expat, e.g. by learning the local language, gaining extra qualifications, etc. Working abroad often entails certain financial benefits as well. Expats tend to be on a higher salary than their colleagues back home to allow for the higher costs of living.

So, if you travel and explore different countries and their cultures, you would find that there are huge differences in communication between people from different countries. In some cultures, people are loud, direct or even blunt and tend to interrupt others during a conversation, which is known as direct speech. In others, people are typically soft-spoken, use sugar-coated or indirect language and wait patiently for others to finish their sentence. Figuring out which language to use when is what is of vital importance in the business sector, or for that matter in any career you pursue.

So the simplest way to solve this dilemma, is to observe which form of speech is being used in your work area, and try to adjust to the way your business partners communicate, for example: always use last names and titles unless you are invited to do otherwise.

Besides paying attention to the titles and last names, you also need to keep in mind the hierarchies of your new surroundings, so it is important to keep an eye on this as well. The most senior business partner may be the one who is making the decisions at a meeting, failing to acknowledge their status within the company or to greet them with due respect can leave a bad impression.

An aspect of cultural differences which people should not forget to consider is the difference in time management. For example the flexibility and location of a meeting might be pretty strict for some firms while it might not be so for some others, like the Germans are well-known for their punctuality, and in many African and South American countries, however, scheduled appointments are treated like a rough timeline rather than a strict deadline. Hence it is always best to be punctual at first and eventually adjust your routine and meetings according to the surroundings, in fact you need not worry, because after a while, you will learn to adjust to your business partners’ unique pace at work automatically.

Keeping the whole idea of cultural differences aside, there are always a few generally common points you should pay attention to in order to make a positive impression in the business world. Being dressed appropriately for the occasion and arriving at a business meeting well-prepared are two key points you must always remember. Regardless of cultural differences, your bosses and co-workers would definitely acknowledge and appreciate the fact that you are try to make a good impression and are trying to get accustomed to their form of work. After all, no one likes a person who doesn’t like to gel in.

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Purushottam Chandra

Purushottam Chandra

I like to look into peoples thoughts and help them smile.