Cross-Culture Communication in Your Own Business

Your Company has finally gone “international”… and now what?

Through cultural differences between Americans and Germans so-called intercultural misinterpretations often arise within the company’s structure, which in turn, lead to tension building up between the staff members on both sides of the big pond.

This tension is generally only recognized by a few numbers of employees, capable of differentiating on personal and business levels. Initial thoughts begin to go around: “Why don’t they understand what we’re saying?” or “Geez, we’ve repeated the message more than a thousand times!” Some employees tend to take subsequent messages personal and start to rebel, if only in small steps, against further communication.

Although it is impossible to NOT communicate – interpersonal barriers are created. Situations escalate. Target-oriented cooperations collapses. 
Not only do the employees suffer, so do your company’s efficiency and thus, your business.

Headquarters has reacted in an appropriate manner and informed its staff of the correct procedures… if only that little bit of “personal vengeance” wouldn’t be in the air. 
Let’s take a closer look at a “time change” example;

The American would like to create an offer for a possible new customer , and send a request to headquarters in Germany. As previously agreed upon, specific parameters are required at the time of request, allowing their German co-workers to convey the correct information. The Americans are under deadline; they want to and must be faster than the competition in order to make the deal! 
The American customer isn’t capable of providing all of the parameters, but wants a ballpark figure to start with.

From a German point of view, a request without sufficient parameters has been sent from the US-office, again.

As the German department has called for the request-parameters more than once, the German co-workers begin to react on an interpersonal level; instead of responding to the e-mail request from the states, they grab a coffee first, take their lunch break or do something “more important”.

From an American point of view, they are aware of the fact that the Germans require a full set of parameters, but these are available and they only need a ballpark figure. As the customer is still waiting for his offer and since the co-worker isn’t responding to their request they start sending out e-Mails to other employees in the German office, hoping to get a response of any kind.

And what are the results? We’re now not only confronted with a time change, but delayed responses PLUS lost sales as well.

The consequences arising out of a delay is like a leitmotif running through your business equation…

Delay in processing + delay in responding + delay in customer care = loss in turnover

Compared to private communication, in business you are dependent upon a successful exchange of information.

You’ve made it to here, and if you have by chance already made my acquaintance, you know that I don’t take a “it won’t work” for an answer. Let’s work together to show your staff how they can take in and convey how “it works”!