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Intercultural communication

Business protocol differs within companies and varies across cultures. There are some basics protocols, that seem to be found cross-culturally, that can make or break a business deal; “handshaking and the art of introduction; entertaining and hosting; gift-giving; social drinking; dining and eating differences and peculiarities; taboos in conversation; greeting remarks; gestures and body languages; cultural stereotypes; business cards; the use of first names; concern for time and punctuality; dressing properly; telephone etiquette; dealing with women in business; and the use of interpreters.

Negotiating, entertaining and protocol are so interwoven and it is difficult to separate them” (“Export Action Line; Business” NA). When dealing with people from other cultures you need to research and understand traditions from their cultures without assuming any stereotypes. Through out cultures there are two main differences that can be identified, people generally come from direct or indirect cultures and it is very important to understand these differences when negotiating or doing other types business with other cultures.

People from direct cultures use direct question and decisive tone of voice when asking for something. Most often they ask closed questions to get results and detailed information. As a general rule they have trouble dealing with indirect cultures and

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see them as unclear and untrustworthy. People from indirect cultures often use a gentle tone of voice and are much more polite when asking questions. Indirect cultures also tend to ask open questions allowing the other person to reveal as much information as they feel comfortable with.

Indirect cultures can see people from direct cultures as abrupt and insensitive (Pile & Lowe, 2006, p. 36). Direct and indirect cultures can be divided into subcategories of high context and low context when faced with making important decisions. High context people communicate very fast and get straight to the point. High context people assume the audience already knows what they are speaking about and will not go into detailed explanation, but will get straight to the facts. Relying on non-verbal communication, such as hand gestures and facial expressions, to read situations high context people want very little explanation.

When communicating meaning is indicated by how things are said, rather than what is said. Low context cultures are very different. There is no assumption that the audience knows what is being spoken of and communication is very detailed and all necessary information will be explained. Low context cultures rely heavily on clear visual aids or verbal cues to read into situations. Finally meaning is determined by what is said instead how it is said (Pile & Lowe, 2006, p. 41). Changes in information technology have changed the world, the pace we do business, and essentially how we do business.

In today world of technology and sources of information available at the touch of button people have grown to expect results immediately. Cell phones keep us in constant communication with our business associates, even on days off. Often negotiations are started and completed through email and people no longer have to meet face to face or even speak to one another to make a business deal. Understanding cultures, their context, and current technology is essential when dealing with people from other cultures.

Education is an ongoing life process and before doing business with a person or company from another culture there needs to be research completed for successful business deals to occur.

Reference Pile, Louis & Lowe, Susan. (2006). Intelligent Business Teacher’s Book; Upper Intermediate Business English. Bath, United Kingdom; Bath Press. Export Action Line; Business Etiquette in Exports. (2004, September 11). Manila Bulletin, p. NA. Retrieved March 29, 2007, from Questia database: http://www. questia. com/PM. qst? a=o&d=5006991059.

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