Culture and customs are as important as language in the world of business
Annually, more than 40 per cent of the $2.3 trillion worth of business deals made are cross-border, between firms that are working in different nations, and in many cases, using different languages at their core.
This increasingly global world of business makes it hard for companies to do deals without at least adapting something about the way they operate to do so. For the majority, this will mean making use of translation and interpreting to get their business deals done. Whether it’s translating pitches, contract offers or simply discussions between the owners of two firms from different countries, translation and interpreting are vital.
Translation essentially makes everything easy to understand for everyone on both sides of the business deal. And while it might not always be 100 per cent flawless in a world where deals, companies and people are differing and complex, translation is the number one tool for conducting business on a multinational scale and being competitive on a global basis.
But it’s important for firms that when they are dealing with other companies, they don’t rely solely on translation. Of course, it is a priceless tool that they should never be trying to do business without, but using just translation and nothing else to communicate, in terms of skills, can leave you appearing one dimensional, uninspired, boring and even rude.
Remember, working with people from different countries means working with people who have entirely different outlooks on the world, and entirely different ways of talking, communicating and doing business with people, be it at meetings, on the phone or via video call. Getting to grips with these, and pairing customs and culture with translation and interpreting, is the best way to make sure you are an effective business leader in the modern world.
How you speak
One of the most important things to consider when it comes to culture and customs is how you speak to people when you are doing business with them. For example, according to Hult Business School, while in Finland, the people you are talking to will be delighted with you being upfront, direct and straight to the point, if you are dealing with someone from India, they will expect business deals to hinge on conversations that are more subdued, slower and polite.
How you act
As well as how you speak, the way you conduct yourself in general will be something that people from other cultures will be looking to when they decide whether or not they want to do business with you. Whether it’s a handshake, timing issues or any other nuance of the way you act, not knowing what people you are going to be doing business with are expecting, and what they consider to be rude and polite practices, can stand you in poor stead before the first time you seek to get them onside.
For example, how do you deal with punctuality? In the US or the UK, we would consider that to be on time, you need to be a couple of minutes early, just to make sure you arrive and have time to prepare. Meanwhile, other cultures will think it acceptable to turn up even a few minutes late, and others will expect you to be markedly early to show that you are prepared and respectful of the time that they are giving up to meet you.
Getting it right in this regard is easy enough, but you have to be prepared to put the work in. Do some research into the people you are going to be meeting and where they come from, and make sure that before you go to your meeting, you are aware of how they like to be spoken to, to give yourself the best chance of impressing them and achieving your business goals.