As different cultures teach their young the practices of their own culture, it is increasingly becoming necessary for our parents and schools to teach our children the ways of neighboring cultures including their languages, customs, and practices. International business communication relies completely on the ability to understand the culture you are dealing with; it requires cross cultural communication. Success can be measured in one's handling of the cultural barriers almost more so than the products and services of the business. Just as the young are taught their culture from their parents Americans must educate themselves on the culture of our foreign neighbors to better prepare for international relations.
Cross Cultural Communication
Different cultures inherently communicate differently due to their natural state of being. Culture is not something we are born with; rather, it is learned. Because culture is learned and communication is directly effected by one's cultural upbringing it can be assumed that different cultures communicate differently due to the cultural teachings that were taught at a very young age. Every culture is different because they were taught differently because they were taught by a member of a cultural background different from the rest of the world.
This is obviously circular logic and bears resemblance to the chicken or the egg conundrum but it poignantly illustrates that though each culture communicates uniquely they can be understood by others through continuing education. For instance, in Japanese culture much communication takes place in the context of the situation.
An American might bluntly say that it is a beautiful day whereas a Japanese person might not mention the day as it is obvious that it is beautiful. In the business world such direct implications from the American might cause the Japanese person to feel as if the American is speaking too much and vice versa, the American might find the Japanese person to be cold as he doesn't exchange pleasantries the way the American is used to. This specific circumstance is obviously trivial and there are always exceptions but it is cause to wonder the implications of such differences in culture on a more significant business culture scale.
Business Culture Differences
Different cultures communicate in many different ways and to different degrees of contextual relevance. Many cultures have various forms of non-verbal communication that are foreign to others, some of which might even be offensive. Often there are customs that have little to do with communication other than the act of securing trust or respect. Cultural misunderstandings in business activities abroad can be destructive to a company and can greatly overshadow total quality management. It is for reasons such as these that it is imperative for successful business persons to educate themselves of other cultures.
As it is cultural differences are learned from birth so there is nothing to hinder them being learned later in life. In an effort to improve business communications in companies that deal with foreign cultures they must make it a priority to educate the entire company and more specifically the relations team which directly interacts with the foreign businesses and markets. Customs, traditions, methods of communicational delivery must be understood before significant market entrance can occur.
Obviously language barriers must be crossed. Often translators achieve this but even more significant to trust and direct communication is the learning of the foreign language. This is usually difficult to do later in life and not all people are capable of putting in the work to do this which is why the American nation must learn to act as one and emphasize the importance of foreign language education for our children. We have lived our lives and now find ourselves in the midst of a global business marketplace and we now know that to succeed in business cross-cultured education will lead to further prosperity. I believe that education starting at the elementary level will be businesses best friend for the coming decades.