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Five tips for a successful intercultural communication: interview with Gayle Cotton

In business trips it’s important to know cultural customs and traditions of the population we are going to encounter. Not always our habits coincide with those of other countries and cultures, and we can easily be misunderstood. Therefore it is of great consequence to know what’s the right thing to do in each country. Viaggiamo.it spoke with Gayle Cotton, author of the bestsellerSay Anything to Anyone, Anywhere: 5 Keys to Successful Cross-Cultural Communication.”

Gayle is internationally well known, being President of the Circles of Excellence and guest on NBC News, PBS, Good Morning America, quoted by PM Magazine, PM Northwest, and Pacific Report.

Let’s look at the five key tips described by Gayle Cotton, referring to the site to read the full interview.

1 – The most common mistakes done by Westerners during a business trip relate to vigorous handshakes and to a direct eye contact, holding out a hand with the business card and trying to close the deal standing. In Asian cultures it is almost the opposite: reduced eye contact, not strong handshake, business card offered with two hands and small talk to prepare the business conversation, which takes place later.

2 – The consequences of a cultural mistake can be of various levels, from minor infractions regarding how to introduce oneself, easily forgiven, to most serious errors that may offend Asian cultures, difficult to repair.

3 – It’s crucial for those who are in business trips to inquire about the way business is done and the cultural differences of the country they are visiting by enhancing their intercultural awareness in order to create trustful relationships.

4 – Body language is important and could easily be the first mistake one makes if used incorrectly. It’s really easy to offend someone with a gesture usual for us but outrageous for others.

5 – In emails is recommended to align our type of communication with that of our counterparty: if we receive a short communication or if surnames are used, we should do the same; same thing for greetings. In this way when in doubt we reduce the percentage of errors.

Posted in A world of Cultures, Featured, Intercultural Compass, Working in a global context: differences in daily life
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