Different meeting cultures Copy
If you are doing this course, it’s probably because you are or will be having meetings with other nationalities that speak English. This can lead to problems, not only because of the language but also because of cultural differences. Here are some tips to help you ensure a successful meeting for all
Using appropriate names
In Anglo Saxon cultures (UK or USA for example), first names are often used in business. In formal contexts, the use of first names with “Mr” or “Ms” is also common. If in doubt, go with the more formal approach, or follow the lead of the person you’re meeting.
Some cultures like to stick very closely to the agenda while others prefer a less structured approach. Try to be open for the different ways of working while trying to follow the agenda as closely as possible. You can use the language in unit(lecture) 4.7 here to get the meeting back on track.
Be aware that in certain southern European countries, meetings are rarely used to solve problems and reach agreements but to share information about decisions that have already been made. In central and eastern Europe, verbal agreements might not be taken seriously if not followed up by a written agreement.
Behaviour in meetings
Some cultures see meetings as formal situations and so remain reserved while others prefer a more relaxed approach and appreciate some humour. Be aware of these cultural differences when making judgements about the people in the meeting. Reserved formal behaviour doesn’t mean that someone is boring while a relaxed informal approach doesn’t mean that person is unprofessional.
In South East Asia, it is custom to exchange name cards and make sure to give and receive them with two hands. always Be also aware that senior executives from Japan will only discuss business with people from the same management level.
Disagreement and criticism
In general, German speaking business people tend to be direct with their criticism and see it as being an objective statement of the facts. However English speakers expect criticism to be put in a more polite and diplomatic way. The Americans in general are able to take criticism better than the British, who are more careful and sensitive about giving or taking criticism. Asians will also seldom give a direct message but imply it. They take direct criticism as a loss of face, meaning a great embarrassment, especially if it’s done in front of others.
Of course these are generalisations, so exceptions will exist. Just be open and aware of these differences.
You can find appropriate language for giving opinions in unit (lecture) 5.4 here.