Successfully mastering international business: 7 tips for understanding foreign cultures

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Better safe than sorry - hardly anywhere in the world has this wisdom as much validity as in the international business arena. Anyone who works globally must think globally and understand cultural peculiarities. 7 tips.

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Here writes for you:


Nelly Kostadinova InernationalizationNelly Kostadinova. Founder of Lingua-World, consultant and speaker.


Internationally successful through tolerance

In general, if you want to be internationally successful, you have to rethink your own ideas. Thinking globally often means putting your personal desires and your own understanding of speed down.

Only if we meet new foreign partners with much openness, know their customs and understand them, we can successfully expand abroad.

Understand cultural peculiarities

Experts can guide you to the dance floor with good preparation, but you can personally dance the business waltz with your business partner.

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And every business dance has country-specific steps and its own melody that it follows - and they should master you. Although many cultural peculiarities can be quickly identified with attention and sensitivity, good preparation is nevertheless useful.

7 business tips for the international floor

Therefore, good preparation will always be useful in confronting other cultures. Because not every culture forgives you a misstep.

1. You have to - and not

Even beyond the national borders, the Germans are considered punctual, dutiful and disciplined. That pleases our international partners well. But the esteem for these virtues does not mean that they are the same for you. However, not every apparent rudeness is actually meant as it arrives with us.

Other countries, other business customs. But you also do not have to tolerate or accept everything. If you want to bargain with them or talk to you about unclear agreements, you need a lot of determination and a healthy self-confidence, especially as a woman. But sensitivity and empathy in dealing with country-specific customs are the basic prerequisite to reach your business goal.

2. Business Cards: China puts everything on one card

In China, bow to greetings. It is best to bow down to your counterpart just as deeply as possible, so that we do not overrate ourselves in the hierarchy, but also not under him. If your Chinese business partner is already set on Europeans, he will also give you the hand with gentle pressure. Especially important is the subsequent exchange of business cards. He is almost celebrated.

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Take care of the design of your business cards. The more it stands, the more significant you are. The best impression you leave with a bilingual map, which you hand over with both hands. Be sure to take time to review the card presented to you by your Chinese business partner. With that, you pay tribute to your counterpart with the necessary respect. Otherwise you will not get a second chance for the first impression in China.

3. Never say “no”

If you have passed the first hurdle with flying colors, another trap is already waiting for us Germans to fall into too easily. A single word can destroy your business relationships in China: No! Preserving your own face counts as the greatest good there. Therefore, you will not hear “No” from a Chinese.

Bite your tongue better if you tend to use these four letters, which are popular in Germany. Anyone who, like me, would like to drive internationalization emotionally and enthusiastically could quickly be seen as too spirited in China. If a “no” slips out of you, no one will complain for it. In China, harmony and courtesy at the negotiating table is valued far too much. But it is better to use restraint, also in facial expressions and gestures. Because every good contact is extremely valuable in China. Without good relationships that occasionally pave the way for you, you like to run your head against the wall. Nothing can be enforced there.

4. Russia scores with tactics and temperament

Even in Russia you will not get far without the necessary relationships. Middlemen in Company and government agencies are happy to help you speed business. These favors and help you but here expects each other.

So do not hesitate to ask for support in Germany in return. This will consolidate your status. And that is of great importance in Russia. By no means be impressed by tactics and a strong temperament in negotiations. Your opponent could quickly seem rude or disinterested. But what your negotiating partners can do is just as convincing. Because you steer too fast, you become a plaything. You lose your authority and lose your seriousness.

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5. Gifts promote the relationship

By the way, gifts are a good thing in Russia. Always prefer high-quality branded products or an excellent drop in your gifts. If you want to give flowers, make sure that they are tied in odd numbers and avoid yellow and white flowers.

They stand for cemetery and mourning. The Russians are a pretty superstitious people. Black and white as well as the number 13 allegedly bring bad luck. Red, green and blue as well as the numbers Three, Seven and Twelve are considered lucky.

6. How are you, USA?

Please always respond positively to the obligatory Anglo-Saxon “How are you”, with which you will be greeted in the USA with a short, strong handshake. They rely on a “fine, thank you” and would be overwhelmed with more detailed information on poor sleep, headaches or the like. Even if your partner has just moved out and the children have opted for career paths that do not correspond to your wishes, you are fine. Thanks for asking. Because as chatty as the Americans are otherwise, you don't want to chat about your actual condition

Basically, you are welcome to be exuberant in the USA. Don't skimp on compliments about the office space, the restaurant, the house or the hotel. They can also be supported by “great”, fantastic, “awesome” or “perfect”. On the other hand, any whine or comment about the appearance is taboo. The opposite sex in particular could quickly interpret this as sexual harassment.

7. Long live the small talk

Because of the pronounced banter over, from German point of view, insignificant, many consider the Americans superficial. But this supposed superficiality has a decisive advantage: It is very easy to approach people in the USA and make interesting contacts. In the US, you can blithely network, network and more network.

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Only the selection of topics in the business everyday life should be met carefully, so as not to tread on a small talk. Better you do not complain about an American president or candidate, or even about the pronounced patriotism. Many Americans do not like that at all. In addition, topics of conversation such as religion or sex are taboo in everyday business life. If you are better off with unimportant topics such as sports, the weather or news from Germany, then you will soon be part of it.

Conclusion: Do not dance out of line

Even if, like me, you like unusual ways and you are often plagued by impatience, I advise you not to go out of line in international business life. The first business contact is usually not liked.

A too direct, clear speech has already prevented many business transactions. While Americans are generally less resentful and sometimes forgive a faux pas, in China or Russia it can mean the end of your business dance.

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  1. Linen

    Thank you for the time you invest in maintaining and maintaining this site. I know from my own experience how complex that is.

  2. Tarek

    Understanding foreign cultures is extremely important, but is often trampled on - for example, Donald Trump. Hot topic.

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