Planning to go abroad for business Here are seven cultural faux pas to avoid

(4) Panama

Tip 1: Panamanians do business with people, not companies. So a focus on building a network and maintaining relationships is key. This means finding ways to spending quality time with people and not just jumping to the task.

Tip 2: In Panama the sense of time, urgency and deadlines can be very different than in the UK, so be very conservative in estimating how long it will take and how much it will cost to complete a project. This applies to large scale projects as well as a tasks you outsource or delegate.

(5) Indonesia

Tip 1: You will almost certainly be offered snacks or tea at business meetings. It is good practice to wait for the host to drink (or eat) first or to specifically ask you to eat before starting to drink.

Tip 2: Indonesians may not hold back on some topics not often discussed or considered rude in the UK. These could include your weight, marital status, age and religion. Plan an answer you are comfortable with ahead of time on these topics.

(6) Hong Kong

Tip 1: Most communication, even if the person is in the cubicle or office next to you, will be done through a computer screen on an instant messages programme. Do not take it personally if people prefer an instant message or text to a phone call or face-to-face conversation.

Tip 2: Taking clients out for lunch is really important a lot of locals are taking out clients to celebrate Christmas, New Year and Chinese New Year in one meal. Going out for an informal drink after work as you would in the UK does not work well in Hong Kong. This would be seen as an official work event no matter how informal you want to make it.

(7) Australia

Tip 1: Theres a more social approach to business in Australia. After meetings at the office are held it can continue socially at restaurants or pubs. Sometimes there may be even be personal invites to peoples houses for BBQs. This is just as important as the main meeting to build that relationship and get to know the client better.

Tip 2: Dress style is largely smart causal rather than full business suits. More conservative businesses will certainly still dress more formally but in many cases being “overdressed” will not be seen as a sign of respect as it might be in the UK.

The more you look into global business culture, the more apparent differences become and the potential impact this can have on working relationships and networking abroad.

But it is also important to remember there are no guarantees with doing business in other cultures no matter how much you know. People and cultures are always full of surprises. That is why the most important thing is to be curious at all times. Even if you are in a familiar situation or with a client or colleague you feel you know well, try not to make assumptions.

Consider cultural differences an opportunity to explore, not just the differences but what they mean and how they developed. What does that ambition look like Well, make sure you truly observe what people are saying and doing, ask questions about what you observe and lastly, share information about cultural norms you are used to and the reasoning behind it. It takes real understanding to make a success of doing business abroad.

With footballs January transfer window closed and players from all over the world arriving in Britain to start a new career, managers are being warned it may not be easy to integrate them all quickly. And believe it or not, the exchange offers some lessons for business leaders.

Alyssa Bantle is global curriculum manager at Crown World Mobility.

Share this story

Send this to a friend