Thursday, May 3, 2012

How Learning A Language and New Culture Can Help In International Business

There is no doubt that doing business internationally requires a thorough understanding of other cultures There is also no doubt that without learning the language, it is difficult to gain deep insights and appreciation into the cultures of other countries.  Knowing the language and understanding the culture can help you to be far more effective in your international business relationships and prevents you from being insulting or reserved without meaning to be.  Because of deep rooted differences between cultural practices, something you do with the best of intentions could turn out to be completely counterproductive.

This is best illustrated by a concrete example. We all know how important China is on the international business map and how important it is to do business with them. However, when President George Bush of the United States gave a gift to the Prime Minister of China, Li Peng, the gift was a pair of cowboy boots decorated with the flags of America and China. You may think that this is a thoughtful gift embodying the traditional culture of America but the reality of the situation was entirely different. Unfortunately, the Chinese consider the soles of the feet to be the lowliest region of the body and a gift of footwear is considered a significant faux pas. This was a significant oversight on the part of American diplomats.

Naturally, international business involves a lot more than learning another language but there’s no doubt that this facilitates the process of understanding. For instance, if you are looking to do business in the Middle East, the basis of establishing a rock solid relationship is not to look to legal language or contracts. Indeed the legal system in many countries in this region is both slow and inconsistent and there is a perception that Americans are unduly legalistic. What you need to do is to establish a rapport with your counterpart at every stage and this involves both knowledge of the language and the culture.

Modern methods of communication such as e-mail rob you of some of the traditional cues such as body language to understand how your counterpart is thinking and reacting. Language spoken face-to-face often produces valuable cues such as eye contact and intonation. For instance, if you are e-mailing a Japanese businessman, you would be wise not to use the casual language that prevails in modern communication such as greeting the recipient with “Hi”. Instead you should be extremely formal in your communication and, avoiding the use of first names, address the recipient by his last name followed by the word “San”.

If you have been looking to take Spanish Classes in Denver or learn another language, consider Bolder Languages. Our Denver language school is specifically catered to helping you learn the language of your choice in the best way possible.

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