My experience in a wide array of cultures gave me the awareness that business travelers encounter more challenges rather than delays in airport security checks, weather conditions, internet connections, and saying goodbye partially, or permanently to their luggage…cultural sensitivity challenges are on the top the list.
The usual greeting may become a nightmare when dealing with international business and cultural differences. Whereas, in the U.S and Australia, a strong hand shake is looked after, in some parts of Morocco, after a hand shake, your hand should touch your own heart, or your own hands must be kissed by yourself or you may kiss the other person’s hands – it all depends… In other cultures, no hands, just bowling.
I believe a great way to avoid tensions and accidental offences when doing business is to have a wiliness’ to be culturally flexible and aware to observe surroundings, acceptance of the differences and be tolerant.
This means, 99% is a mindset matter. Learn to understand a culture, and how to move in gently as this understanding becomes a mutual merge in the new land, and the realization of cultural reasons are greater than typical, right or wrong.
As there is an approach to understand the cause-and-effect relationships underlying different cultures either than your own, doors of knowledge and growth will open up.
And, when not knowing how to behave in an unknown environment, there is one single language that unite us all, the non-verbal, authentic smile 🙂
The remaining 1% goes down to research and information. This makes me remember a client’s visit to our offices, as my current organization dress policy is aligned with the countries’ culture and does not allow employees to show their knees or shoulders, the client didn’t know, wasn’t informed… Although, the situation was handled with acceptance by the company, a little investigation could have saved some awkwardness…
Finally, distinct cultures and beliefs is what makes this world so interesting, not boring and gives it the essence of living. I propose a challenge to build your cultural muscles, go to a club or international association with different nationalities, species of garlics, and try to interact, listen to music and watch movies from different parts of the world, ultimately, concentrate in the happiness and gratification found in the experiment done outside your comfort zone.