that not every detail will be filled in and not every business relationship will
be painstakingly enumerated. The buyer will more than likely leave things open
for interpretation, which could require some editorializing on the part of the
credit professional and their company. Taking the same tack with a lower context
culture, such as Germany or Finland, could have disastrous results, as such
cultures traffic in a more precise brand of communication.
Adaptation and Tips
While its impossible to overstate the importance of being able to successfully cultivate business relationships, being able to establish a tighter, essentially interpersonal relationship becomes especially important in higher context cultures. Business in these countries is much more of a family affair than it might be in their lower context counterparts, and being prepared for the time it takes to create that dynamic will be vital in laying the groundwork of a long-term exporting relationship.
Still, not every culture is high context, so credit professionals need to work to make themselves into communication chameleons, able to shift the shape of the message to suit the customer in question. "The best advice would be to understand the country and the culture before interacting on a global basis," said Simpkins. "In fact, err on the conservative side when interacting with companies and businesspeople in other countries."
A few techniques never go out of fashion, Simpkins noted. "Regardless of communication method, it is imperative to communicate in a manner that is well-received by the person on the other end," he said. "Some tips include listen effectively, speak in a slow and transparent manner, repeat yourself to ensure that you are understood, avoid slang or technical terms, speak in short sentences and try to use closed-ended questions."
Other items that are always important to consider include assessing the seriousness of the audience. Humor isn't always welcome, and a quick read on the room can save a credit professional some potential headaches. "For example, a person may begin the conversation with small talk related to the person's weekend or may begin a presentation with a small joke to break the ice, while the person on the receiving end may take the attempt at discussing personal business in an offensive manner, or they may take a small joke at the beginning of a presentation as being too casual or inconsiderate," said Simpkins. "Also, it is important to ensure that a presentation is designed to not include anything flashy or use words such as 'fantastic' or 'amazing opportunity,' as that can be portrayed as childish or immature."
But if the goal is to enhance your own ability to shift your point of view on a culture-by-culture basis, the best way to practice is to simply go for it. It's like cooking: if you want to learn how to cook, pretend that you know how to cook. "The common theme involved in the successful adaptation of behavior is the strength of a relationship and the size of your network," said Simpkins, who noted that the best place to start is within one's own company. "The best way to develop yourself when it comes to communicating with other cultures is to leverage the resources around you," he added. "In most global organizations, there are individuals of a similar culture that are located in a country in
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