Nonverbal communication has lately received a lot of attention. Also known as a “silent language”, since we can send and receive messages without saying an actual word. When it comes to non-verbal communication among cultures, the problem occurs when the differences aren’t known, nor taken into consideration. It happens that some gestures are misinterpreted due to culture differences, which can lead to uncomfortable situations.
In some cultures, it’s necessary to be extrovert in order to fit into the business environment, while in others it’s not appreciated. Besides being extrovert, it’s really important to take into consideration the level of physical contact which other cultures find acceptable. Arab counties, Mediterranean region, Latin America and Latin part of Europe tend to have a more common physical contact, while most part of Asia, Great Britain and Nordic counties think of it as inappropriate.
Business card exchange has nowadays become a normal business routine. However, the differences occur in paying attention to the content of business cards. For instance, in the USA a little attention is shown when it comes to looking at the business card after taking it; it’s immediately put in our pocket. Nevertheless, in more formal cultures, such as Japan, its content is treated with respect.
Cultures which are more formal and reserved are Southeast and East Asia, Northern Europe and Germanic counties, while Mediterranean region, Latin part of Europe and Latin America are considered to be more extrovert. When it comes to time, in the West “time is money”, while in most part of Asia (besides Japan, where people are super punctual and pay a lot of attention to time), Africa and Latin America, time has no special value.
Communication is a very important factor in business. That’s why it’s important to know that in some countries, such as the USA and Europe the written form of communication is preferred, while Arab and Asian countries, prefer oral way of communication.
Exploring cultures is a very beautiful thing. We get to know a lot about their values, mindset, customs and tradition. It’s advisable before you start any business meeting or partnership with anyone who doesn’t come from your country, to find out which is the business policy in their region in order to avoid any cultural misunderstandings.