Planning an overseas business venture and training newly-hired foreign personnel demands hard work, but cross-cultural planning is ten times more difficult. Because business cannot be conducted in an identical fashion across different cultures, they must intentionally commit to thorough enculturation. Companies that previously made no effort at cultural training had to retract their foreign initiatives from their target market in a matter of a few months.
Launching a business overseas needs some serious planning. The first step is to train the involved managerial, marketing and technical personnel for the challenges ahead. They must be trained in those areas which can create communication problems across cultures. This is very important to strengthen business communication between people from different cultural backgrounds.
Because perspectives of people change towards the same thing from culture to culture, businesses can thrive only when the people involved examine problems at hand from one another’s different cultural perspectives to find solutions for them.
Don’t Tolerate Ethnocentrism
Ethnocentrism means one cultural group thinking themselves superior to others. Ethnocentric behavior can cause serious problems when conducting international business. People from different cultures have their own ways to approach and solve specific problems. Thinking one’s way is distinctly superior to others’ is at best misleading in a cross-cultural environment. It should not be tolerated in any team members at any cost.
Plan the Key Aspects in Cross-Cultural Communication
Language can pose a huge barrier in cross-cultural business interaction. According to sociologists, in international business:
Difficulties with language can range from serious translation problems, the difficulty in conveying subtle distinctions from language to language and culturally based variations among speakers of the same language.
Overcoming language barriers is the biggest challenge in international business. A bad legal translation can cause significant damages. Gross translation errors not only waste time but can also be considered disrespectful by the party in whose language the message is translated. Since language is closely associated with culture and every nation takes pride in its culture, translators must be highly competent to avoid translation errors that can directly or indirectly affect negotiations.
When the concerned parties do not share control over the same language, they miss many subtleties which are sometimes the essence of a business negotiation. Though translation can never make up for quality of the product or service being marketed, good translation and interpretation services can surely enhance good business outcomes.
Use Technology across Cultures
Another communication barrier that exists when people from different cultural backgrounds work together is their use of the technological resources. Because different cultures have their own ways of using these resources, people may find it hard to accept one anothers’s views in this regard.
Different cultures use their available resources in different ways because it makes good business sense to them. However, a good interactive environment can be a good learning experience for all the concerned parties. To ensure optimal results, all parties must agree that no one is technologically superior among them. This consensus will result in a considerable level of acceptance for one another’s ways.
Consider Social Perspectives
Business norms may differ greatly from culture to culture. For instance, one culture may strictly hire on merit. In some cultures though, it may be inappropriate not to give preference to an acquaintance. In international business, the best route is to adopt a non-critical approach towards one another’s social values.
Overcoming all of these communication barriers may be difficult , but negotiating differences to reach a working plan is not impossible, as many success stories exhibit viable cross-cultural planning and ultimate successes.