Cultural Differences and Communication Problems With International Business

Written by cindi pearce
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Cultural Differences and Communication Problems With International Business
Awarness of cultural differences is imperative in the business world. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

The Internet and other technological advances have made the world very small in many respects, resulting in globalisation in business. When conducting business globally, businesspeople must be cognizant of the different styles employed in other countries. Cultures vary greatly and what may be considered an appropriate business tactic in the United States may be considered bad form or insulting in another country.

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Globalisation means businesspeople must be aware of cultural differences including values, behaviour, etiquette, non-verbal communication, expression and group mechanics. Each culture has its own perceptions and it's imperative that you're aware and considerate of them. Misunderstandings often occur when there is a language barrier.


Doing business globally means being aware of cognitive, behavioural and emotional constraints. Cognitive constraints refer to frames of reference or worldviews by which new information is introduced and compared. Behavioural constraints refer to what each culture considers proper verbal and nonverbal communication. In some countries, for instance, you shouldn't look someone in the eye, shake their hand or stand too close, while you should remove your shoes before entering their office. Be aware of these nuances to succeed in global business and ensure that you don't do or say something improper.

Cultural Differences

Every culture is different when it comes to displaying emotions. In an uninhibited culture, businesspeople may openly express feelings including frustration and anger -- and may expect you do to likewise. In an inhibited culture, emotions are not openly displayed. Failure to understand these differences may hinder your ability to effectively conduct business across cultures.

The History of the Country

Know the history, traditions, social etiquette and business practices of the countries with which you are dealing. This makes transactions go smoother and lessens the chance that you'll make mistakes. Cross-cultural business training helps businesspeople understand how to communicate properly and learn the styles adhered to by those in other countries.

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