Differences in cultures and philosophies make the international business world an exciting place full of creativity and innovation. However these same differences, which can be beneficial in many circumstances, can cause problems with language and interpretation in others.
The way you act during a teleconference with people from other countries can easily cause offence without you even realising. In some cases, you are unlikely to find out that you made a mistake until the deal is rejected or they announce they are taking their project elsewhere.
This is why it's important that staff are trained in how to communicate with different cultures, particularly during international teleconferences. Make sure your employees know what they can do to avoid any unnecessary issues.
Limit humour and sarcasm
Humour and sarcasm plays an important role in Australian business and culture. Lighter moments can generally interrupt big decisions without offending.
However, on an international teleconference it would be best to limit the banter. Different cultures around the world see humour in business differently. While Australians use humour to break the ice, other cultures may find it rude or disrespectful to crack a joke. Some cultures may also not see you and your business as being serious if you use humour during business negotiations, potentially damaging your chances to close the deal.
When doing business with other cultures, be sure to look into their culture and understand what is best practice in business meetings.
Watch your speed
When talking amongst other native speakers, people tend to speak particularly fast and compromise on dictation. Due to this, international conference participants may have trouble understanding and following the conference call agenda if it is not being conducted in their first language.
One way to avoid this is to be conscious of your speaking speed. Be sure to speak slightly slower than you normally would and pronounce your words correctly to avoid confusion.
It's also a good idea to allow time after each topic or point for questions or further clarification. This will prevent your international guests from getting left behind or lost in the conversation.
Engage an interpreter
Interpreters or translators can be a good way to show that your business can work effectively with overseas businesses. A teleconference call can handle hundreds of participants, so there's plenty of room for an interpreter to listen and translate proceedings.
As well as providing instant conversion of the conversation, you could get the agenda translated into other languages so everyone is on the same page from the start of the teleconference.
Understanding cultures from around the world is an important part of international business. By following these three tips you'll be well on your way to being an excellent cross-cultural communicator.