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Business and Cultural Misunderstandings

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Author: Salvatore Corradi – FM Chairman

Being misunderstood, in everyday life as well as in the workplace is part of our normality.

Things get complicated when, in a professional environment, we relate to interlocutors who come from countries very far from ours and with different cultures and customs.

In the world of economic interests, even a small and unfortunate misstep could compromise the success of a venture.

In a reciprocal way, words and situations that for some may seem “normal”, for others could be cause for intercultural misunderstandings. Even the funniest jokes can become the source of relational discomfort or even conflict.

During a hypothetical business trip, gestures are also essential. In the United Arab Emirates, even if you are left-handed, always use your right hand to say hello as the left hand is considered the one used only for personal hygiene. In Japan, on the other hand, it would be preferable to avoid the handshake altogether, but if the gesture comes automatically you can rest assured because no Japanese will back down, they are used to relating with Westerners but avoid in all ways to cough or blow your nose in public.

In the United States, it is not necessary to knock on a bathroom door to make sure it is busy because it certainly is since it is a good habit to leave the door open before leaving.

In Finland it is not polite to ask at what time a business dinner will take place if you have been invited, just wait for the person who organized the meeting to give all the necessary information. In short, there are many curious customs, whether true or false.

There is a business etiquette, a kind of unwritten law that can be decisive in one sense or another.

The simple solution is to make use of Cross Culture‘s individual or corporate services so that you can never be unprepared, thus managing your interests in the best possible way, politely, politely and without giving up the sense of humor that can be decisive.