Read the extract about Busyville and tick the things the visitor to Busyville does right and put a cross by her mistakes.
“In Busyville, people start work at eight, and officially finish at six, though many managers stay much longer. There is a culture of presenteesm: being at work when you don’t need to be.
There is a two-hour lunch break, and a lot of business is done over restaurant lunches. (Lunch is the main meal. The working breakfast is rare.) There are no snacks between meals, just coffee, so eat properly at meal times.
As for punctuality, you can arrive up to 15 minutes “late” for meetings. If invited to someone’s house 9unusual in business), arrive 15-30 minutes after the time given.
Don’t phone people at home about work, and don’t phone them at all after 9 pm.
There are a lot of public holidays (about 15) during the year. Busyville is empty in August, as many companies close completely for four weeks. Employees have five weeks’ holiday a year and they usually take four of them in august.”
I phoned my contact in her office at 7.30 pm. (1…) I suggested a working breakfast the next morning. (2…) She wasn’t keen, so I suggested lunch. (3…) We arranged to meet at her office at 12.30. I arrived at 12.45 (4…) and went to a restaurant, where we had a very good discussion. That evening I wanted to check something, so I found her name in the phone book and phoned her at home. (5…) She was less friendly than in lunchtime. I said, I would be back in Busyville in mid-August. (6…) Not a good time, she said, so I suggested September. (7…)
Here are some areas of potential cultural misunderstanding. Read them carefully and define which points mentioned the following passage refers to.
Areas of potential cultural misunderstanding:
1. distance when talking to people;
2. eye contact;
4. greetings/ goodbyes;
6. physical contact;
8. rules of conversation and the role of silence;
Sally, a student, is working for a company abroad for work experience. The company has employees from all over the world. The head of the company, Henrik, invites Sally to a barbecue for his employees at his home, at 3 pm on Saturday.
She is the first to arrive, at exactly at 3 o’clock. When the others arrive, some shake hands with each other. Some kiss on one cheek, others on both cheeks. Others arrive and say hello without kissing or shaking hands. (1 …) Some bring wine or flowers, which the host does not open and puts to one side. Others bring nothing. (2…)
In conversations, some people move their arms around a lot and seem to make signs with their hands, others keep their hands by their sides. (3…) Some people do not let others finish what they are saying, and others say almost nothing; the people with them seem upset and move away when they can. (4…) Some people look directly at the person they are talking to. Others look away more. (5…) Some touch the arm of the other person whenever they are speaking to them. (6…) She notices that some people seem to be slowly moving backwards across the garden as the conversation goes on, while the person with them is moving forward. (7…)
Later, somebody makes a jokes but nobody laughs. Everyone goes quite. (8…) People start saying goodbye and leaving.
Different business cultures have different ideas about how initial contacts should be made. Different business cultures also use different types of information to determine whether a company is worth working with. Here are two examples of how to get connected in other business cultures.
In Egypt, the government is usually the customer; private businesses usually do not have big international accounts. A good introduction in Egypt requires governmental references. For example, an American businessman in a large company in Arizona, United States, wanted to do business in Egypt. His company has no history of working in the Middle East. He had to get letters of references and introductions from a US senator and the US government’s envoy (government contact) to Egypt before the Egyptians would consider doing business with his company.
The social relationship that develops between the two business parties is also very important. The social relationship is not limited to the one person in charge of the account. During the first meetings, the same respect and social interest should be shown to all persons who are in the key contact’s office, even if they are not directly involved in the business deal. These people may influence the key contact’s opinion.
It is best to make the first contact with a Korean company through a third party. If this method is chosen, it is important to contact a highly respected Korean. South Korea has a clear social structure. People work with people who are in their own social level. In high business circles in South Korea, everybody knows everybody. An introduction through a well-connected individual will open many doors. High-level government officials are the most effective contacts because they can promise some governmental cooperation. The government has a lot of influence on business in South Korea. There are also many trading companies and banks that successfully introduce foreign businesspeople to Korean business.
In Korean society, a person’s status is defined by education, family, place of birth, current address, friendships, connections, and the size of the company. When businesspeople are introduced in South Korea, it is important that thay give personal information about their own connections and education along with the company profile. People sometimes give biography (a short description of their life) to provide additional personal information. All this information should be given before the first meeting so that the people involved have a chance to learn about each other.