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What You Need to Know About Cultural Differences in International Business

What You Need to Know About Cultural Differences in International Business

When working with businesses overseas, you’re bound to encounter some cultural differences. It’s what makes our global community exciting, but it can also create stress and unknowns when making business deals and decisions. 

You’ve probably experienced cultural differences on a personal level in your own life, but cultural differences on an international business level can feel more intense. After all, they can impact your global IT deployment, so you want to be prepared to handle them in the best way possible.

Types of Cultural Differences

There are many cultural differences you will likely encounter when doing international business. Communication, in particular, is critical for an effective professional relationship, and speaking the same language is the foundation for that. Don’t be afraid to find an interpreter to ensure that messages are conveyed clearly. It’s also helpful to learn a few basic words (please, thank you, hello) in the other language, as that shows respect for the other person’s culture.

Another important difference you may encounter is body language. Even if you need to bring in an interpreter to help with verbal communication, you can still say a lot with your emotions, gestures, and the way you hold yourself. 

Some cultures, for example, view raising your voice as a sign of anger, while others see it as excitement. Body language also includes how closely you stand to someone and whether or not you should shake hands, hug, or otherwise greet someone new. Each culture has their own unique way of greeting one another, and sometimes it varies between personal and professional relationships. Do extensive research before you venture into a new country, and keep a note of what you should and should not do.

In some cultures, being on time shows respect. In others, when someone says “2pm,” they really mean 2:30. Some countries value being ahead of schedule, so it’s most courteous to arrive early. Again, make sure you’re aware of the unspoken cultural differences you’ll likely encounter during a global IT deployment, and you’ll be prepared to appropriately show respect to overseas customers, employees, and contingent workers.

In China, there’s a special business term called “guanxi.” Translated to “relationships,” guanxi in China emphasizes building a personal relationship with your business counterpart as equally important to the contents of the contract. It takes time and strategy to develop, as Chinese businesses tend to think and plan more long-term than American businesses. If possible, work with an established partner in China to expedite your guanxi efforts. Native Chinese people are far more familiar with the idea and are able to implement it more naturally.

Find a Partner Experienced in Cultural Differences 

Kinettix has been working with companies across the globe, including in China, for years, building up a network of partners. Because of our global coverage, we have experience in many regions and have a vast network of global technicians who already know their respective areas. No matter where your next global IT deployment is, Kinettix likely has an established partner relationship there already. We take the complexity out of finding international teams to act as your local liaisons. 

By partnering with Kinettix, you’ll have access to teams of people in China who know the ins and outs of guanxi and are ready to help you establish your presence in the area. Not looking to grow in China? No worries — Kinettix has worked in over 90 countries, so we’re sure to have teams and technicians wherever your next international business venture takes you. Let’s start the conversation today.

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Bob Supinger

Written by: Bob Supinger

With over 16 years of management experience in business and Information Technology, Bob has helped Kinettix build the infrastructure required to establish itself as a true leader in global IT field services, and in particular rapid response on-site troubleshooting and repair. At Kinettix, Bob leads field services, project management and vendor development organizations. His responsibilities also include operational P&L and expense control; operational strategy and overseeing plan execution; recruiting, employee engagement and development; ongoing process improvement; and customer experience. Before joining Kinettix, Bob worked for Comcast Business, Enterprise Solutions, and Contingent Network Services. He attended Edison State and Wright State University and attained a Degree in Business in 1999. He participated in and coached collegiate athletics and is currently the president of a non-profit organization supporting youth athletic programs in the community.

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