International Business Topics: Chat #1

Intercultural Communications in International Business

On October 6, 2010, Eve Bodeux of Bodeux International (Twitter name: @ebodeux) and Becky DeStigter of The International Entrepreneur (Twitter name: @intlentreprenr) held a Twitter chat on intercultural communications in international business.

The tweets are below, in order, from first to last. Read through them for some interesting information shared in Twitter format about why intercultural communication matters for success in international markets. (Even if you are not familiar with “Twitter Speak,” there are still some nuggets in there that you can figure out!)

Follow hashtag #ibtopics to find out when our next International Business Topics chat will be and what specific topic we will be addressing. We’d love to have you!


Welcome to the #ibtopics chat for today. Today’s topic is: Intercultural communications for international business [by @intlentreprenr]

Please introduce yourselves as you come onto the #ibtopics chat so we get to know each other! #intro [by @intlentreprenr]

I’m an international business consultant focused on helping entrepreneurial companies to become more globally competitive #intro #ibtopics [by @intlentreprenr]

I’m a #localization consultant/project manager & work with tech & other clients to adapt their products for sale overseas #intro #ibtopics [by @ebodeux]

Here’s how it works: we will post discussion questions and just refer to the question # (Q1, etc.) when tweeting about it. #ibtopics [by @ebodeux]

Q1 What should #international #business professionals know about adapting to cultural styles around the globe? #ibtopics [by @intlentreprenr]

Q1 I think it’s important to keep in mind that we all come with our own culture’s scripts for assumptions, expectations, etc. #ibtopics [by @intlentreprenr]

RT @intlentreprenr: Q1 What should #international #business professionals know about adapting to cultural styles around the globe? #ibtopics [by @SCGLPRNetwork]

Q1 #ibtopics So true: this applies to interpersonal face-to-face as well as written and non-verbal communicatons. [by @ebodeux]

Q1 For instance, in Asia people typically won’t tell you when something is wrong because both you and they would lose face. #ibtopics [by @intlentreprenr]

Q1 #ibtopics Another ex: in France, it’s rude to eat w/hands below the table. It is hard for them to understand why we do it & for us to not [by @ebodeux]

Q1 @ebodeux what differences do you see in written communication styles between cultures? #ibtopics [by @intlentreprenr]

#ibtopics Q1 for communication on a daily basis, such as email to intl colleagues, forms of address & level of formality come to mind [by @ebodeux]

@intlentreprenr In South America, the customs and business culture vary significantly even in neighboring countries. #ibtopics [by @hyperizeweb]

#ibtopics Q1 for marketing materials to adapt, for ex, things often need to be totally rewritten to culturally adapt and u have to let go… [by @ebodeux]

So true in South America – oftentimes I hear business professionals talk about this continent like it’s 1 culture. BIG mistake! #ibtopics [by @intlentreprenr]

Q1 Which makes developing personal relationships extremely important, allows them 2 feel comfortable enough 2 help & explain diff. #ibtopics [by @gmkatopodis]

Welcome @hyperizeweb! Do you want to introduce yourself? #intro #ibtopics [by @intlentreprenr]

#ibtopics Q1 of your own cultural “script” and let the message be adapted as appropriate to get your real meaning/tone across [by @ebodeux]

@intlentreprenr Thank you for having me! I am an aspiring entrepreneur. Also work for a manufacturing comp. that does biz overseas #ibtopics [by @hyperizeweb]

A cringe-inducing error that people oftn make w/regard to L Amer is that Spanish is the lang of Brazil. Oops! Ad, it’is a BIG mkt! #ibtopics [by @ebodeux]

#ibtopics Q1 One professional I talk with says that he has trouble when his execs talk w S American clients & talk biz before relationship [by @intlentreprenr]

Welcome @gmkatopolis! If you want to introduce yourself, please go ahead. #intro #ibtopics [by @intlentreprenr]

Yes, I think that in most/many countries interpersonal relationships key to business success in a way we not used to culturally. #ibtopics [by @ebodeux]

@hyperizeweb Great! We have some questions lined up, but feel free to ask your own too. #ibtopics [by @intlentreprenr]

@intlentreprenr Q1: Plus look at how developed Brazil is. To do business there you must have their trust and a local presence. #ibtopics [by @hyperizeweb]

Q1 Regarding written communications, for ex, European written biz texts often quite “flowery” can frusrate “direct” Americans…#ibtopics [by @ebodeux]

@hyperizeweb True! Brazil’s growth rate is high – they were 1 of the 1st to come out of the global recession. & Growing fast #ibtopics [by @intlentreprenr]

Q1 While Europeans may think that American writing style is too direct #ibtopics [by @ebodeux]

Q1 Re Asian reticence, what are some tips for dealing with this? @intlentreprenr #ibtopics [by @ebodeux]

@ebodeux Excellent point! Does going to that country give one a much better chance of understanding? #ibtopics [by @hyperizeweb]

Also @hyperizeweb Brazil is a place that if u don’t have ur own biz contacts, you should hire an intermediary to get things going #ibtopics [by intlentreprenr]

RT @intlentreprenr: Also @hyperizeweb Brazil is a place that if u don’t have ur own biz contacts, you should hire an intermediary to get things going #ibtopics [by @hyperizeweb]

Q1 #ibtopics Re Asian reticence. 1st-don’t force the issue 2nd form 1-to-1 relationships so that u can ask ??s privately [by @intlentreprenr]

@hyperizeweb #ibtopics I mean, when they see you face to face – they “get you” better even those some of what you do seems “foreign” [by @ebodeux]

@hyperizeweb #ibtopics I think it does give better chance for understanding, due to people are also more willing to make allowances then [by @ebodeux]

Q1 #ibtopics Re Asian reticence 3rd don’t blame but problem solve together [by @intlentreprenr]

@intlentreprenr Great tip! Employment laws seem to be tough in Brazil. Tips on that aspect? #ibtopics [by @hyperizeweb]

#ibtopics Correction: they “get you” better even THOUGH some of what you do seems “foreign” [by @ebodeux]

Q2 What are some specific examples of #cultural differences YOU see when doing business globally? #ibtopics #international [by @ebodeux]

@hyperizeweb #ibtopics ooo good question! I’d recommend hiring in-country legal counsel if ur going to hire in Brazil [by @intlentreprenr]

#ibtopics On the tech side, things that make or break an product “culturally” are sometimes really obvious, but overlooked. [by @ebodeux]

Q2 #ibtopics for example, simply modifying date formats. As an American end user of a camera, I was very confused by Asian date format used [by @ebodeux]

Q2 @ebodeux can you think of any example for written communication style differences? #ibtopics [by @intlentreprenr]

Q2 #ibtopics and the camera was produced in Asia…downloading photos got really confusing. Professionally, I see this type of error… [by @ebodeux]

@hyperizeweb #ibtopics Are there any countries or cultures you’d like us to focus on in our answers? We’re here to serve… [by @intlentreprenr]

Q2 #ibtopics ..made by US companies taking their products to #intl #markets. Small things need to be adapted, or it’s obviously “foreign” [by @ebodeux]

Q2 #ibtopics For ex, in marketing piece calls to action, do not list US-based “800” tel #’s in your translated materials. US-centric. [by @ebodeux]

@ebodeux #ibtopics So true on the “foreignness” factor. And at least 80% of all markets are outside your own borders [by @intlentreprenr]

#ibtopics Q2 in adapting written text, it’s key to make sure your translation accurate and appealing…not offensive. I have a story… [by @ebodeux]

#ibtopics Q2 was not good from PR standpoint…we corrected it [for them] in later versions, but ouch! [by @ebodeux]

#ibtopics Q2 story: tech client had used a Spanish word that meant something innocuous in some SPanish regions, but s/t sexual in others. [by @ebodeux]

@ebodeux #ibtopics I’ve seen the “800” mistake on websites before. It makes the company look less worldly & “clumsy” overseas [by @intlentreprenr]

Q3 Should a website or email have a different call-to-action if it targets international sales prospects or potential partners? #ibtopics [by @ebodeux]

@kadavids Great! Welcome Kim #ibtopics [by @intlentreprenr]

Q3 Sorry I’m late! Yes, everyone web site should offer localization options – language, contact info, etc #ibtopics [by @kadavids]

Q3 #ibtopics I say yes. In relationship-based cultures, u will have better success if u drive the sales process to a person [by @intlentreprenr]

Q3 #ibtopics @ebodeux, what changes do you recommend when you localize websites? [by @intlentreprenr]

@kadavids Q3 #ibtopics Yes, important to think of how you will address email/chat/phone communications that you will get in diff languages. [by @ebodeux]

@intlentreprenr Q3 #ibtopics I recommend clients come up w/strategy that encompasses #translation but also the “how to’s” of transactions [by @ebodeux]

Q3 #ibtopics Exactly! Just had that come up…u must think through, can they pay in EUR? Also, what payment METHODS b/c methods vary [by @ebodeux]

Q3 @ebodeux Do you find that online customers expect to be able to pay in their own currency? #ibtopics [by @intlentreprenr]

Q3 #ibtopics re payment methods, I mean, in some (European) countries, CREDIT cards not common…online purchases made much less, etc. [by @ebodeux]

@ebodeux Def takes more resources but can create better customer experiences. Not everyone is comfortable speaking English #ibtopics [by @kadavids]

@kadavids #ibtopics It might cost more up front, but def improves sales revenues! [by @intlentreprenr]

@intlentreprenr Q3: Yes, most major retailers allow international customers to pay in their native currency. Boosts sales! #ibtopics [by hyperizeweb]

@kadavids #ibtopics Is there any question you have for us today that can help your current projects? [by @intlentreprenr]

@hyperizeweb yes, good example. companies just entering intl market often need to think this through. #ibtopics [by @ebodeux]

Thanks to participants for today’s discussion on #intercultural #communications in #international #business! #ibtopics [by @intlentreprenr]

@intlentreprenr Any comments on how social media & privacy are viewed in various regions? for i.e., in Germany privacy is major #ibtopics [by @kadavids]

@ebodeux Q3: #ibtopics But credit departments usually want currency in USD because it minimizes exchange rate risk. key is right balance. [by @hyperizeweb]

@kadavids Yes! Social media privacy preferences vary widely. Countries like S. Korea -privacy less imporant. Germany- opposite #ibtopics [by @intlentreprenr]

RT @intlentreprenr: Also @hyperizeweb Brazil is a place that if u don’t have ur own biz contacts, you should hire an intermediary to get things going #ibtopics [by @Pelosato]

@kadavids This is a big issue for American companies going to Europe – to make sure they comply w/privacy laws there. #ibtopics [by @ebodeux]

@hyperizeweb Q3 #ibtopics Well, USD not always the one to use to minimize risk-at least not in last few yrs. But, I get what you’re saying. [by @ebodeux]

@kadavids #ibtopics This is an issue that big social media players will need to address better in order to get global market share [by @intlentreprenr]

@ebodeux @intlentreprenr Did you hear about Google Street View in Germany? #ibtopics [by @kadavids]

@kadavids #ibtopics yes – interesting to see how (big and small) companies deal with compliance that spans so many countries [by @ebodeux]

@kadavids No, but thanks for the tip! #ibtopics [by @intlentreprenr]

Well, our hour is up for the #ibtopics chat, but of course, we will keep looking for your tweets. [by @ebodeux]

@ebodeux I am sorry, I stand corrected the USD has been weak compared to many foreign currencies #ibtopics [by @hyperizeweb]

We’ll be posting an archive of this chat for future reference, so look for info on that to be tweeted soon. #ibtopics [by @ebodeux]

@hyperizeweb well, your point is still well-taken. Many American companies want/need to deal in USD for bottom-line. #ibtopics [by @ebodeux]

I had a blast participating in this week’s #ibtopics @ebodeux & @intlentreprenr! [by @kadavids]

Thank you, Merci, Danke to our chat participants: @hyperizeweb @gmkatopodis @kadavids #ibtopics [by @intlentreprenr]

Yes, thanks everyone! RT @intlentreprenr: Thank you, Merci, Danke to our chat participants: @hyperizeweb @gmkatopodis @kadavids #ibtopics [by @ebodeux]

@hyperizeweb companies can accept payment in EUR or whatever, & adjust that rate so they get what they need in USD when converts #ibtopics [by @ebodeux]

@ebodeux Thank you so much for this chat! #ibtopics [by @hyperizeweb]

@intlentreprenr Thank you for this chat and your valuable information! #ibtopics [by @hyperizeweb]


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