Making Cultural Differences Work In Your Business

Advancements in technology have made the world so much smaller, do not you think? We was separated by mountains and seas, culture and color.

But today on the highways and byways of the world wide web, we are but a single mouse click away. Consider this for a minute. You and I may be thousands of miles away at opposite ends of the planet, but on the internet, we might as well be sitting across a coffee table.

The net’s one huge melting pot of people, ideas, culture. Just have a look at any forum or message board and you will see what I mean. So if you are going to do business on the world wide web, you should think about that your company will be open to the world, and you are going to be serving customers from the West Coast to the Far East, and everywhere in between.

I know many people have this thought about starting little, and so we begin thinking we will only be dealing with local or national customers, the people in our neighborhoods, our city, our nation. So the issues of cultural and business differences weren’t something we spent a lot of time worrying about.

Sure, as a startup, the majority of your company may initially come from the neighborhood market, and your clients are likely folks who talk like you, live close to you and do business the same way you do yours.

But hey, wait a minute, have a good look around your community and odds are you will see a fairly diverse group of individuals. Unless, of course, you live in some place like the South Pole where the only other person in your area is… well, yourself!

Running a business on the world wide web isn’t quite the same as operating a small retail store at the neighborhood shopping mall. On the world wide web, you are for all intents and purposes opening your business to the world. Like it or not. And when that happens, it is important to note some points about global business.
– Not everybody speaks English. While it’s not possible to provide a simplistic figure for how many people in the world speak English, estimates place the proportion of individuals whose mother tongue is English at 7 percent of the planet’s population. The proportion of the world’s people who speak English as a second language is estimated at 30%. A quick bit of math here informs us that over half of the people we encounter in our business dealings might not even speak English.
– When dealing with people from vastly different cultural backgrounds and business practices, it is best to stay patient and polite at all times. It never hurts to pepper your communicating ‘thank you’ and’please’s’. Frequent courtesy can go a long way in customer relations.
– Keep your language simple at all times. No jargon, no fancy sentence structures . Simply say what you mean as clearly and as simply as possible. The aim is to be known, not to win the Nobel Prize for creative communication.
– Sometimes when it is not clear to you exactly what the other party means, it is ideal to seek clarification. Paraphrasing can be very handy in confirming your comprehension of what another person means – simply rephrase what you believe is being said with a simple question in the end asking if you’ve known right.
– If you are on the telephone, talk slowly and clearly. It is entirely okay to repeat, paraphrase, and inquire. Make allowances for the other party to do the exact same as well. Misunderstandings can be expensive in terms of money and time, so save yourself the hassle and gain margin.
– Not everybody is in your time zone, so do allow for slight delays concerning timing. If you are planning something in real time (like an internet event), find a time that is convenient to all or the majority. By way of instance, if you are intending to call someone in another part of the world, it is excellent customer service to not plan to call somebody at some unearthly hour.

So there, we are all set to hit the global business scene. When the going gets tough, it helps to remember three things:
– somebody somewhere is having or has had a similar experience,
– it is all part and parcel of business,
– after you get the hang of working around cultural differences, you can only get better.

And the best thing about all this is you get to reap the benefits of the global market.