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Doing Business Abroad - Cross Cultural Challenges, Issues And Solutions

With a huge surge in development in other countries, more and more of us are doing business, and interacting abroad. While the opening up of markets and additional opportunities for international business is a huge boon, it also means that those who work in other countries, or with those from other countries need to hone multi-cultural communication skills and our understanding of other countries and how they do things.

Below you'll find more resources that can help you understand how to communicate more effectively when working abroad or working with people from other countries.

Some Cautions:

Cultures and "Norms" Are Not Universal In Any Country

You may have seen summaries of a specific culture -- for example, how people in Japan behave and communicate, and how it might be different from your homeland. You must be aware that these are generalizations, and that within each country are sub-groups who are quite different from each other. Do not make the mistake of taking generalizations about a culture as universal.

Don't Make Assumptions, And Instead, Ask

Related to our first caution above, don't make assumptions about a particular person's approach to communication, and culture. Ask. Don't wait until you aren't "sure", but ask as many questions as you can, show interest in others, and you'll learn and avoid mistakes.

Learn The Language Or At Least Some Of It And Don't "Expect" Everyone To Speak Your Language (English)

Most people appreciate it if a "foreigner" at least makes an effort to learn their language. Even if you will never be fluent, it shows respect to at least learn to say basic things in the other language. It shows you care.

Stop Comparing And Judging Their Ways

Cultures exist on their own, and if you constantly compare "their" culture" to yours, you won't be as open to learning their ways.

While its understandable to judge certain things in a culture that go against your principles (status of women in a culture is an example), remember that you are NOT going to change a culture, and that it's not your job to do so. If you object to their ways, you have two choices: Accept them as their reality, or leave. You can't be in the middle.


There are tons of resources on other cultures. As you read the various information below, please remember:

Do Not Over-Generalize About a Country



More Information On Arbitration To Address Conflicts

  • Why Don't We All Just Get Along Together?

    By Stephen Taylor - The purpose of this article is help international business people become more effective when working with people from other cultures. Having an understanding and appreciation for sometimes extreme differences is a critical first step in building better rapport and understanding. (Added: 3-May-2003 Hits: 1378 )
  • England - Doing Business In England (culture)

    By NA - Doing business in England can be a disconcerting affair. Aside from the obvious and much-publicized cultural differences, American executives doing business in the British Isles are placed in the peculiar position of speaking a common language but meaning things that are entirely different from the British interpretation. (Added: 6-Aug-2002 Hits: 1374 )

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