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#579: Pay Attention to Culture Even Within Your Own Country

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, June 2, 2011
Updated: Thursday, June 2, 2011
I get that consultants should attend to cross-culture issues when doing business in foreign countries. However, in some cases, there are cultural issues from region to region within one's own country. Aren't these also important?

They absolutely are. Although perhaps the biggest (and potentially most embarrassing) gaffes occur in misunderstanding across nations, the need to understand your audience does not go away within one's own country. It is more than just differences in dress, language, business customs and how one conducts a meeting. It extends to how one uses technology, expectations about making and keeping commitments, and tolerance for lateness.

With a global business audience, a person's ethnicity, country of origin, and the region of your own country in which they generally conduct business all flow together to create a unique social construct for each person. No longer can you say, "He is from Germany so he will behave like X." or "She has worked in the southern part of the state, so she will not mind Y."

Tip: Despite all the books that claim to tell you how to deal with a person from country X, recognize that each person is more complex and requires a nontrivial bit of research to best understand how they work and think. Consider it like dating, where you spend some time understanding someone before deciding how best to develop a relationship.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  business culture  client development  customer understanding  market research 

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