Cultural Missteps: Tips to Avoid Them While Doing Business Globally

With more and more workplaces becoming diverse in operations and companies involving into doing major part of their business globally, cultural missteps are becoming difficult to avoid. With an increase in the opportunities for same, it can’t be denied that even the best professionals and experts go on to committing such mistakes.

We can make out that the need for communicating on a global platform has lead to an increase in opportunities for the cultural missteps. Primary solution for this should be to take extra care while communicating with people from different cultures so that things are not received or misunderstood in a way they shouldn’t have. Let us discuss more.

culturally diverse team
photo credit: Victor1558

What has culture to do with work?

As a business entity, you will be required to work with people belonging to different cultures and professionals from countries you might never have visited. You may be working with French, Japanese, Chinese, German, Americans, Africans, British and various other nationalities. Before you start working with them, it becomes important to understand their work culture first and how they receive or send instructions at work.

We understand that it’s not possible for all of us to be an expert in completely understanding each and every culture existing round the globe. There are still a few guidelines that can help you facilitate multicultural conversations and ensure that there’s no room for any confusion.

Following the guidelines mentioned below will help you in preventing yourself or your team members from getting into a conflict that may impact your business largely.

Let us discuss as many as we can –

Tip 1# Understand The Basics In Their Culture First

When you know you’re going to do business with a client who belongs to a different country or culture, it’s time to gear up for those long conversations they may want to have with you. This is the best time to research about their location, the popular ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’ in their culture and lot more.

Results on the search engine not just indicate the basics followed in their culture but they can also suggest you the “don’ts” to be kept in mind while you are conversing with them. You may not mean it and few phrases or words may divert the goal of your business (with them) to elsewhere.

Tip 2# Special Attention To Gesture Is Important

While you’re meeting people or business professionals from different countries, even those little gestures and reactions may indicate different things in different culture.

Let us take a simple example – most of us like sitting with one foot resting on the other knee which often indicates relaxation. You will be surprised to know that to some people from the Middle East, this is an offensive gesture.

So, if you don’t know about it, you can commit the same mistake before coming in conversation with business professionals from the Middle East. So make sure you have done plenty of research on their culture, the way they thing, act and react!

Tip 3# Focus On The Clues You Receive

This is the best way to understand more about the gestures and forms of behaviour acceptable in their culture. It’s true that you learn from official communication and casual talks more than you could learn by making a search online. Since you also have to maintain good relations with your clients; not jumping into ‘business talks’ early should also give them an opportunity to interact freely. It will also give you an opportunity to learn more about the social gestures that actually works with them – this is going to be helpful in the long run!

Tip 4# Stay Reserved In The Beginning

While you may not mind interacting with them freely and having conversations ‘outside business’ right from the beginning, it’s still safe to maintain a balance between ‘being professional’ and ‘being social’. It’s good to have a sense of humour but cracking jokes initially may lead to embarrassment.

Since you’re aware of the cultural differences between you and your client but you don’t really know what they are, it’s better to sound professional and have professional relationships before you think of getting personal. Make sure you’re avoiding words that may be termed as ‘slang’ in their culture. You may be punished for actually no fault of yours!

Companies must know the art of dealing with the different cultural ethnic groups which is also seen as one of the growing challenges for the businesses operating globally and in the international marketplace. In order to ensure that the cultural differences don’t really slow down your business growth, a deep analysis of the do’s and don’ts is imperative. It will not just help you in bridging the gaps but it will also help you in understanding their perception in business so that a successful collaboration can be achieved with ease.

Author Bio: Simmon Pierre is a passionate blogger and safety consultant associated with, a leading UK based plastic steps manufacturer.