Sitting between Susan and Jose in Monday meetings and working alongside Adina and Takeshi on the new project give you a perfect overview of cultural differences in the business world. What makes communication effective? How can you speed up the decision-making process? We created a culture guide to help you find the best way of communication.
Developing personal relationships is the foundations of making business. You need to take time for chit-chat to get to know your business partners. Be patient and prepare for up to two hours small talk of the first meeting. If you have Nigerian employees, you need to thoroughly explain to them what you require unless the work remains undone.
Hierarchy and formality are core values. You consider your employees as your family members but you also demand a lot from them. You are flexible, able to adapt to the change and navigate even messy environments. Top-level managers make decisions, middle managers only ensure execution.
The first step toward making a deal is to build a friendship with your Chinese partners. After you spend a lot of time with them, you can earn their trust, and do business. It’s also important to avoid that your Chinese partners feel that they “lose their face”. Instead of questioning others’ opinion or ideas in public, conduct a meeting before the main meeting to ask their opinions. Provide an opportunity for asking questions and sharing opinion anonymously.
Business meetings are less structured, they often don’t start on time and are interrupted by prayers and small talks. In addition, Saudis carry on multiple meetings at the same time. Be patient and don’t try to speed up the decision-making process. Repeat your points since it will be interpreted as meaning you are telling the truth.
Business is hierarchical, so find out who are the decision-makers. Be aware that Russians expect you to be punctual even if they are not. Be more elegant than usual because expensive business attire means power in Russia. During a business meeting, Russians consider too much compromise as a sign of weakness.
Formality and politeness mean a lot to the French. Pay more attention to your look and language you use. During a discussion, you will be questioning and interrupting due to the French conversation style. Don’t be offended, this is a sign that your proposal is valuable. Be patient, decisions will be made slowly.
Be aware that Americans tend to make quick decisions and are willing to change on the fly. They are less confrontational than other Western cultures, and thus you need to express your disagreement with an explanation. Erin Meyer’s advice: tell them you play the “devil’s advocate” and you want to show the other side of the coin.
Building up personal bonds with Brazilian business partners is vital. Give time for them to get to know you. Don’t be surprised when you need to take several business trips to Brazil since verbal communication is preferred to written communication.
You consult with your employees before making a decision in order to reach a consensus but you don’t appreciate open conflicts. You value more the team spirit than individual interests. Your communication style can be confusing for your team members since you give instructions in an indirect way. Feedback also arrives as subtle suggestions. .
Your presentation needs to be based on facts and figures. Exaggerating is not effective. Be careful, direct speech can be interpreted as rudeness or aggression. Small talk before business meetings is inevitable and if you have a good sense of humor, you will be awarded.
You need to respect the rules and hierarchy. Reach out to your business partners prior the formal meeting, make sure you can influence their opinions before the decision being made. Build up your proposal on data, facts and figures. After the decision being taken, do not question it.
Be open and direct in conversations. Don’t be afraid of giving feedback and asking questions. Although everyone is equal and every opinion matters, that doesn’t mean that your proposal will be part of the deal at the end. The reason can be that your arguments might not have been the most convincing.
Although you live in a very formal society where disagreement with a senior professional is a taboo, you can influence the decisions through informal channels. In the famous “ringi” system, high-ranking managers make decisions after employees at all levels discussed the issue. Engagement and involvement levels are high as employees feel that they have a voice in the decision-making.
Try to avoid public confrontation with Japanese counterparts by asking their opinions before the main meeting and giving time to prepare their responses. You can also depersonalize disagreements by asking opinions anonymously at the meeting. Be patient with the long decision-making process.