Doing business internationally always involves high-profile deals. Working towards an agreement is a challenge in nearly every situation; this is even more true when obstacles such as language and cultural differences are introduced.
How do you know if an email agreement is enough to move on to the next phase of the project? What does a handshake mean here? If the project lead is not available, will the other team trust someone else to give direction?
These questions are important to ask and difficult to answer. Global teams often recognize the potential of misunderstandings in international deals, but they are not always appropriately prepared to prevent or address these problems. Misunderstandings at work are frustrating and unproductive, as well as being awkward. Depending on the relationship between businesses, a bad deal can not only put an abrupt stop to a project, but also blacklist the company for future opportunities.
From Deal to "Deal with It"
Ava works at an international tech company. She has been assigned a long-term project in Japan where her company is opening a new office. Ava read online that giving gifts is important in Japanese culture and she wants to make a good first impression because her boss has mentioned some big deals the company wants to win.
Before departing for her big assignment, Ava prepares some gifts for her Japanese coworkers. She remembered reading somewhere that red is a common color in Asia, so she grabs a red pen to have her department sign the card for the gift.
When Ava arrives in Japan, she hands out her special gifts, wrapped in crisp white paper. She indicates that everyone should open their gifts because she is so excited. As they open their new steak knife sets and read the card, everyone becomes very quiet.
Ava emails her boss later, who responds with a disappointed tone. A few days later, Ava sees representatives from a competitor in the office. They quietly present the Japanese team with a few small packages. Around noon, beautiful cakes and pastries from their home country are displayed by the tea. Ava's boss informs her a few days later that their company lost the contract and she will be returning home within the month.
Enter: Intercultural Training
Intercultural training with Dwellworks covers everything you did not realize you needed to know! With Global Workforce Development, Dwellworks Intercultural trainers work with entire teams to develop a plan to avoid a scenario like the above. What Ava didn't realize through her cursory online research was gift-giving knives is almost never a good idea and indicates hostility. As for colors, white wrapping can also have many meanings including death or rebirth and red, while a lucky color in China, is less significantly associated in Japan. Small misteps like this can be easy to avoid but challenging to come back from.
For individuals like frequent business travelers or those who are relocating, Dwellworks offers a variety of personalized intercultural solutions. The trainer works closely with you to identify issues you may encounter daily at work. Dwellworks understands that business travelers have enough to worry about, so our trainers help take the stress out of cultural communication by incorporating training into your schedule.
A trainer knows specific information about interactions between two cultures that is just not available online.
What is Covered?
A trainer helps you and your global team build the necessary skills to reach a successful deal. Negotiating across cultures is a challenge that requires specific instructions before beginning.
Trainers prepare teams to communicate across culture by covering topics such as:
- Office hierarchy
- Non-verbal language
- View of time/project management
- Navigating money, gifts, and bribes
- Relationship building
- Other unexpected challenges
The Bottom Line
To rise above the competition, your globally-minded team will lead the way after receiving proper training. International prospects will enjoy working with your team more than others if they feel understood and respected. Even if language, time zones, or distance seem like big problems, these will be lessened with a partnership built on clear cultural communication.
Training is worth investing the time in your team, because the cost of cleaning up a deal gone bad is much greater. As mentioned before, a poor deal can destroy the reputation of a company. Trust and understanding are essential when these high stakes negotiations come along; ensure your team is ready!
To read more about Intercultural Training and how it will benefit your global team, visit our blog and be sure to sign up for updates, delivered right to your inbox!