20 August 2013 5

Understanding Different Business Styles & Cultures – the Missing Link in Language Learning

Most multinationals now agree that one of the key operational challenges they face is the need for greater awareness and better understanding of their clients’ and partners’ business cultures.

Here’s the problem. I’m dealing with a client, a supplier or JV partner.  I’m learning their language. I can understand what they say. I DON’T understand what they really mean.

Why not? Because language doesn’t teach me how they think, what their business style is, how they manage, take decisions and communicate them.

As a result there are continued misunderstandings leading to a waste of money, a loss of management time, delays, penalties for late delivery, non-payment or late payment and possible termination of contract.

At the least, it means a strained relationship and at worst a broken one. Is that what you started learning the language for?

The danger is that you can communicate what you want in the foreign language to a degree but you haven’t taken into account your client’s or partner’s business style. Experience demonstrates that failure to take account of different national approaches to the business can result in increased costs and lost management time.

A simple example is a multi-national corporation that decided to save money. It consolidated all its accounts payable and accounts receivable department in one office in the UK and reduced the number of personnel by 60%. It also laid off all its foreign specialist staff in country.

Suddenly, money stopped coming in and the UK staff was bombarded with angry creditors wanting to know why bills weren’t being paid or being transferred using the wrong system. These people weren’t idiots. They were multi-national, multi-lingual well qualified staff.

But no-one told them about the business styles of their creditors and debtors and no-one told them how to communicate in order to get results. That’s why their HR manager came to us.

We helped her set up a series of company wide seminars for all staff to help them learn to communicate better by email and phone and also to understand the operational style of their creditors and debtors.

In a short time they were able to report positive results both in on-time payments and reduced stress, due to fewer angry phone calls.

This is what our specialist communication and global business consultants do. They work with your staff to improve communication and business cultural awareness, targeting increased productivity, reduced stress, greater time saving and lower costs due to delays.

In addition to your language learning – one day with our global business consultant on improving communication with your key markets can save you hundreds of thousands of pounds in extra costs and lost management time, perhaps the most expensive cost of all.

Our business development programmes cover: –

Market briefings

  • International project management
  • Communication training
  • Relocation preparation
  • Repatriation
  • Diversity management

Remember!  Knowing how to speak Mandarin, French or Russian is one thing – but you will never maximise your chances of doing business successfully in these countries if you haven’t invested time in better understanding how different their approaches to doing business are from yours.


Our dedicated one-day workshops will equip your staff for the communication, leadership, organisational, and behavioural challenges they are facing.  One day of training could save your organisation hundreds of hours of lost management time and thousands of pounds wasted by delays, penalties, design and materials failures, non-payments and possible termination of contract.

To see how our Cultural Training and International Communication Skills programmes will benefit your organisation visit our Cultural Training webpage – or call us now, on 020 7821 0999

Understanding Different Business Cultures and Styles
Article Name
Understanding Different Business Cultures and Styles
Most multinationals now agree that one of the key operational challenges they face is the need for greater awareness and better understanding of their clients’ and partners’ business cultures.
Publisher Name
Simon and Simon International
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There are 5 comments:

  1. m88 - 5th April 2016 at 8:43 am

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