In today’s globalized world where businesses are operating in countries scattered around the world, understanding different languages can be extremely advantageous. Many professionals assume that speaking a common language with other cultures is enough for success. While in fact, spoken language is only 30% of communication. Cultural differences are inevitable in global business environments. Therefore, in today’s business world it is simply not enough to share a common language. To be successful, one must develop a diverse cultural perspective.
The need for cultural intelligence is growing rapidly as business settings continue to globalize. Communicating properly in terms of cultural norms can be the difference between success and failure. For example, an American worker once answered a phone call from a Swiss German by asking, “Hello, how are you?” The Swiss German refused to answer the personal question and was disgruntled as he wanted to begin business negotiations right away. While this is an extreme example, it stresses the importance of understanding cultural norms before conducting business in a new cultural setting. In another cultural setting, personal questions and friendly questions like the one above would have been welcomed and encouraged. In Latin American countries, meaningful small-talk and relationship building is seen as a requirement before business begins. These are a just a few of the many cultural differences existing in our world today.
Due to the wide continuum of cultures, every professional should look to develop strong cross-cultural communication. As cultural identities grow in strength across the world, simply understanding the perspectives of different cultures can provide innumerable benefits to your career.