Рефераты. Intercultural business communication

can using someone's given name without permission. "What would you like me

to call you?" is always the opening line of one overseas deputy director

for an international telecommunications corporation. "Better to ask several

times," he advises, "than to get it wrong." Even then, "I err on the

side of formality." Another frequent traveler insists his company provide

him with a list of key people he will meet—country by country, surnames

underlined—to be memorized on the flight over.

Basic Rule #2: Eat, Drink, and Be Wary.

Away from home, eating is a language all its own. No words can match it for

saying "glad to meet you ... glad to be doing business with you . . . glad

to have-you here." Mealtime is no time for a thanks-but-no-thanks response.

Accepting what is on your plate is tantamount to accepting host, country,

and company. So no matter how tough things may be to swallow, swallow.

Often what is offered constitutes your host jj country's proudest culinary

achievements. Squeamishness comes not so much from the thing itself as

from, your unfamiliarity with it. After all, an oyster has | remarkably

the same look and consistency as a sheep’s eye (a delicacy in Saudi


Is there any polite way out besides the back door? Most business

travelers say no, at least not before taking a few bites. It helps to slice

unfamiliar food very thin. This way, you minimize the texture and the

reminder of where it came from. Another useful dodge is not knowing what

you are eating. What's for dinner? Don't ask.

Basic Rule #3: Clothes Can Make You or Break You

Wherever you are, you should not look out of place. Wear something you look

natural in, something you know how to wear, and something that fits in with

your surroundings. For example, a woman dressed in a tailored suit, even

with high heels and flowery blouse, looks startlingly masculine in a

country full of diaphanous saris. More appropriate attire might be a silky,

loose-fitting dress in a bright color. With few exceptions, the general

rule everywhere, whether for business, for eating out, or even for visiting

people at home, is that you should be very buttoned up: conservative suit

and tie for men, dress or skirt-suit for women.

Basic Rule #4: American Spoken Here— You Hope.

We should be grateful that so many people outside the United States speak

English. Even where Americans aren't understood, their language often is.

It's when we try to speak someone else's language that the most dramatic

failures of communication seem to occur. At times, the way we speak is as

misinterpreted as what we are trying to say; some languages are

incomprehensible as pronounced by outsiders. But no matter how you twist

most native tongues, some meaning gets through—or at least you get an A for

effort even if it doesn't. Memorizing a toast or greeting nearly always

serves to break the ice, if not the communication barrier.

* * *

Rules of etiquette may be formal or informal. Formal rules are the

specifically taught "rights" and "wrongs" of how to behave in common

situations, such as table manners at meals. Members of a culture can put

into words the formal rule being violated. Informal social rules are much

more difficult to identify and are usually learned by watching how people

behave and then imitating that behaviour. Informal rules govern how men and

women are supposed to behave, how and when people may touch each other,

when it is appropriate to use a person's first name, and so on. Violations

of these rules cause a great deal of discomfort to the members of the

culture, but they usually cannot verbalize what it is that bothers them.


Although language and cultural differences are significant barriers to

communication, these problems can be resolved if people maintain an open

mind. Unfortunately, however, many of us have an ethnocentric reaction to

people from other cultures—that is, we judge all other groups according to

our own standards.

When we react ethnocentrically, we ignore the distinctions between our

own culture and the other person's culture. We assume that others will

react the same way we do, that they will operate from the same assumptions,

and that they will use language and symbols in the "American" way. An

ethnocentric reaction makes us lose sight of the possibility that our words

and actions will be misunderstood, and it makes us more likely to

misunderstand the behaviour of foreigners.

Generally, ethnocentric people are prone to stereotyping and prejudice:

They generalize about an entire group of people on the basis of sketchy

evidence and then develop biased attitudes toward the group. As a

consequence, they fail to see people as they really are. Instead of talking

with Abdul Kar-hum, unique human being, they talk to an Arab. Although they

have never met an Arab before, they may already believe that all Arabs are,

say, hagglers. The personal qualities of Abdul Kar-hum become insignificant

in the face of such preconceptions. Everything he says and does will be

forced to fit the preconceived image.

Bear in mind that Americans are not the only people in the world who are

prone to ethnocentrism. Often, both parties are guilty of stereotyping and

prejudice. Neither is open-minded about the other. Little wonder, then,

that misunderstandings arise. Fortunately, a healthy dose of tolerance can

prevent a lot of problems.


We may never completely overcome linguistic and cultural barriers or

totally erase ethnocentric tendencies, but we can communicate effectively

with people from other cultures if we work at it.


The best way to prepare yourself to do business with people from another

culture is to study their culture in advance. If you plan to live in

another country or to do business there repeatedly, learn the language. The

same holds true if you must work closely with a subculture that has its own

language, such as Vietnamese Americans or the Hispanic Americans that Vons

is trying to reach. Even if you end up transacting business in English, you

show respect by making the effort to learn the language. In addition, you

will learn something about the culture and its customs in the process. If

you do not have the time or opportunity to learn the language, at least

learn a few words.

Also reading books and articles about the culture and talking to people

who have dealt with its members, preferably people who have done business

with them very helpful. Concentrating on learning something about their

history, religion, politics, and customs, without ignoring the practical

details either. In that regard, you should know something about another

country's weather conditions, health-care facilities, money,

transportation, communications, and customs regulations.

Also find out about a country's subcultures, especially its business

subculture. Does the business world have its own rules and protocol? Who

makes decisions? How are negotiations usually conducted? Is gift giving

expected? What is the etiquette for exchanging business cards? What is the

appropriate attire for attending a business meeting? Seasoned business

travellers suggest the following:

• In Spain, let a handshake last five to seven strokes; pulling away too

soon may be interpreted as a sign of rejection. In France, however, the

preferred handshake is a single stroke.

• Never give a gift of liquor in Arab countries.

• In England, never stick pens or other objects in your front suit


doing so is considered gauche.

• In Pakistan, don't be surprised when businesspeople excuse themselves

in the midst of a meeting to conduct prayers. Moslems pray five times a


• Allow plenty of time to get to know the people you're dealing with in

Africa. They're suspicious of people who are in a hurry. If you concentrate

solely on the task at hand, Africans will distrust you and avoid doing

business with you.

• In Arab countries, never turn down food or drink; it's an insult to

refuse hospitality of any kind. But don't be too quick to accept, either. A

ritual refusal ("I don't want to put you to any trouble" or "I don't want

to be a bother") is expected before you finally accept.

• Stress the longevity of your company when dealing with the Germans,

Dutch, and Swiss. If your company has been around for a while, the founding

date should be printed on your business cards.

These are just a few examples of the variations in customs that make

intercultural business so interesting.


Intercultural business writing falls into the same general categories as

other forms of business writing. How you handle these categories depends on

the subject and purpose of your message, the relationship between you and

the reader, and the customs of the person to whom the message is addressed.


Letters are the most common form of intercultural business

correspondence. They serve the same purposes and follow the same basic

organizational plans (direct and indirect) as letters you would send within

your own country. Unless you are personally fluent in the language of the

intended readers, you should ordinarily write your letters in English or

have them translated by a professional translator. If you and the reader

speak different languages, be especially concerned with achieving clarity:

• Use short, precise words that say exactly what you mean.

• Rely on specific terms to explain your points. Avoid abstractions

altogether, or illustrate them with concrete examples.

• Stay away from slang, jargon, and buzz words. Such words rarely

translate well. Nor do idioms and figurative expressions. Abbreviations,

tscfo-nyms (such as NOKAI) and CAD/CAM), and North American product names

may also lead to confusion.

• Construct sentences that are shorter and simpler than those you might

use when writing to someone fluent in English.

• Use short paragraphs. Each paragraph should stick to one topic and be

no more than eight to ten lines.

• Help readers follow your train of thought by using transitional

devices. Precede related points with expressions like in addition and

first, second, third.

• Use numbers, visual aids, and pre-printed forms to clarify your

message. These devices are generally understood in most cultures.

Your word choice should also reflect the relationship between you and the

reader. In general, be somewhat more formal than you would be in writing to

people in your own culture. In many other cultures, people use a more

elaborate, old-fashioned style, and you should gear your letters to their

expectations. However, do not carry formality to extremes, or you will

sound unnatural.

In terms of format, the two most common approaches for intercultural

business letters are the block style (with blocked paragraphs) and the

modified block style (with indented paragraphs). You may use either the

American format for dates (with the month, day, and year, in that order) or

the European style (with the day before the month and year). For the

salutation, use Dear (Title/Last Name). Close the letter with Sincerely or

Sincerely yours, and sign it personally.

If you correspond frequently with people in foreign countries, your

letterhead should include the name of your country and cable or telex

information. Send your letters by air mail, and ask that responses be sent

that way as well.

Check the postage too; rates for sending mail to most other countries are

not the same as rates for sending it within your own.

In the letters you receive, you will notice that people in other

countries use different techniques for their correspondence. If you are

aware of some of these practices, you will be able to concentrate on the

message without passing judgement on the writers. Their approaches are not

good or bad, just different.

The Japanese, for example, are slow to come to the point. Their letters

typically begin with a remark about the season or weather. This is followed

by an inquiry about your health or congratulations on your prosperity. A

note of thanks for your patronage might come next. After these

preliminaries, the main idea is introduced. If the letter contains bad

news, the Japanese begin not with a buffer, but with apologies for

disappointing you.

Letters from Latin America look different too. Instead of using

letterhead stationery, Latin American companies use a cover page with their

printed seal in the centre. Their letters appear to be longer, because they

use much wider margins.

Memos and reports

Memos and reports sent overseas fall into two general categories: those

written to and from subsidiaries, branches, or joint venture partners and

those written to clients or other outsiders. When the memo or report has an

internal audience, the style may differ only slightly from that of a memo

or report written for internal use in North America. Because sender and

recipient have a working relationship and share a common frame of

reference, many of the language and cultural barriers that lead to

misunderstandings have already been overcome. However, if the reader's

native language is not English, you should take extra care to ensure

clarity: Use concrete and explicit words, simple and direct sentences,

short paragraphs, headings, and many transitional devices.

If the memo or report is written for an external audience, the style of

the document should be relatively formal and impersonal. If possible, the

format should be like that of reports typically prepared or received by the

audience. In the case of long, formal reports, it is also useful to discuss

reporting requirements and expectations with the recipient beforehand and

to submit a preliminary draft for comments before delivering the final


Other documents

Many international transactions involve shipping and receiving goods. A

number of special-purpose documents are required to handle these


price quotations, invoices, bills of lading, time drafts, letters of

credit, correspondence with international freight forwarders, packing

lists, shipping documents, and collection documents. Many of these

documents are standard forms; you simply fill in the data as clearly and

accurately as possible in the spaces provided. Samples are ordinarily

available in a company's files if it frequently does business abroad. If

not, you may obtain descriptions of the necessary documentation from the

United States Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration,

Washington, D.C., 20230. (For Canadian information, contact the Department

of External Affairs, Trade Division, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A OG2.)

When preparing forms, pay particular attention to the method you use for

stating weights and measures and money values. The preferred method is to

use the other country's system of measurement and its currency values for

documenting the transaction; however, if your company uses U.S. or Canadian

weights, measures, and dollars, you should follow that policy. Check any

conversion calculations carefully.


Oral communication with people from other cultures is more difficult to

handle than written communication, but it can also be more rewarding, from

both a business and a personal standpoint. Some transactions simply cannot

be handled without face-to-face contact.

When engaging in oral communication, be alert to the possibilities for

misunderstanding. Recognize that you may be sending signals you are unaware

of and that you may be misreading cues sent by the other person. To

overcome language and cultural barriers, follow these suggestions:

• Keep an open mind. Don't stereotype the other person or react with

preconceived ideas. Regard the person as an individual first, not as a

representative of another culture.

• Be alert to the other person's customs. Expect him or her to have

different values, beliefs, expectations, and mannerisms.

• Try to be aware of unintentional meanings that may be read into your

message. Clarify your true intent by repetition and examples.

• Listen carefully and patiently. If you do not understand a comment, ask

the person to repeat it.

• Be aware that the other person's body language may mislead you.

Gestures and expressions mean different things in different cultures. Rely

more on words than on non-verbal communication to interpret the message.

• Adapt your style to the other person's. If the other person appears to

be direct and straightforward, follow suit. If not, adjust your behaviour

to match.

• At the end of a conversation, be sure that you and the other person

both agree on what has been said and decided. Clarify what will happen


• If appropriate, follow up by writing a letter or memo summarizing the

conversation and thanking the person for meeting with you.

In short, take advantage of the other person's presence to make sure that

your message is getting across and that you understand his or her message


Speeches are both harder and simpler to deal with than personal

conversations. On the one hand, speeches don't provide much of an

opportunity for exchanging feedback; on the other, you may either use a

translator or prepare your remarks in advance and have someone who is

familiar with the culture check them over. If you use a translator,

however, be sure to use someone who is familiar not only with both

languages but also with the terminology of your field of business. Experts

recommend that the translator be given a copy of the speech at least a day

in advance. Furthermore, a written translation given to members of the

audience to accompany the English speech can help reduce communication

barriers. The extra effort will be appreciated and will help you get your

point across.



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