When maintaining international business communication it is vital to be aware of the multiple stylistic peculiarities inherent in communicative processes of various nations and cultures. The present paper focuses on the communicative style, non-verbal communicative practices, and business communication norms of Japanese, Argentinean, and Egyptian cultures, as well as outlines the basic strategies to increase the overall efficiency of cross-cultural communication in business.
Expecting respectful treatment of its tradition, the Japanese culture is ultimately group-oriented. Lasting personal relationship is the basis for long-term trust and respect. The key notion is ‘keeping one’s face’ cool and composed, and not making one’s partner lose his face either.
The style of humility and cooperation dominates communication. The non-verbal side of communication maintains a reserved approach: subtle gestures, infrequent eye-contact, and restricted physical contact are the key characteristics of non-verbal behavior. Certain widespread gestures, such as OK, may be taken wrongly, and traditional pointing at objects is offensive. Handshakes are permitted between business partners.
Based on the national communicative style, Japanese business norms feature strict hierarchical organization of large negotiation teams, with senior management present at each stage of the process. Long-term scheduling and detail-focused approach are fostered, together with reserved and indirect negotiation style. (Katz, 2008c)
The Argentinean culture is group-oriented and focused at lasting and trusting long-term relationships as well. Personal relations rather than company ones are of great importance. Despite the generally warm, friendly, direct, and emotionally open communication, respect of face, dignity, and honor is vital to maintain successful communication.
Non-verbal communication is characterized by maintaining a close proximity and wide use of expressive body language. However, care should be taken with using gestures like “OK”, which is offensive. Frequent eye-contact and physical contact with representatives of the same gender provide positive effects.
Impeccable appearance is a must. Among the norms of business communication, hiring a local intermediary to introduce one’s business and advance and detailed scheduling of the negotiation process are standard. Hierarchy and punctuality are strictly observed. Since the negotiations are long-term oriented, they are held in slow pace and aimed at ‘win-win’ result. Polychronic working style and emotional negotiation techniques are widespread, yet the latter should be employed with care. (Katz, 2008a)
Egyptian culture combines group-orientation with the need for individual interests and preferences. Long-term perspective relationships are built between people, not companies. Face-saving tactics are greeted, together with concealing negative emotions and sharing positive ones.
Indirect communication features flowery rhetoric which may result in ambiguous meaning. Non-verbal communication features close proximity levels and extensive use of gestures, body language, and body- and eye-contact. Since left hand is considered generally unclean, it is not used for handshakes or eating.
Impeccable appearance produces a positive effect. Business norms allow both individuals and teams as negotiators. Aimed at long-term perspective, negotiations go at slow pace with employment of deceptive negotiation techniques but a general positive and persistent attitude. Bribery is often considered as mere gift, but should be used with caution. (Katz, 2008b)
Successful cross-communication presupposes careful planning and background research in accordance with the local norms of the culture. In general, developing long-term trust, mutual respect and cooperation, keeping everyone’s face, as well as avoiding haste and aggression are the keys to success. But in any case in-depth acquaintance with each separate culture is vital to efficient cross-communication.
Katz, L. (2008a). Negotiating international business — Argentina. Retrieved Feb. 12, 2010, from http://www.globalnegotiationresources.com/cou/Argentina.pdf
Katz, L. (2008b). Negotiating international business — Egypt. Retrieved Feb. 12, 2010, from http://www.globalnegotiationresources.com/cou/Egypt.pdf
Katz, L. (2008c). Negotiating international business — Japan. Retrieved Feb. 12, 2010, from http://www.globalnegotiationresources.com/cou/Japan.pdf