Archive for August, 2010

Cross Cultural Articles, Cultural Clues, Cultural Tips: Gayle Cotton

Posted on August 2, 2010 by Comments are off

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Cultural Clues… Do’s & Taboos

A series of cultural tips for countries from A to Z

Communication Guidelines for Colombia

It’s an asset to make the effort to learn Colombian history and culture before your visit. Having a basic knowledge of these subjects will do a great deal in establishing rapport.

In general, Colombians are very proud of their culture and national accomplishments.

It is considered polite to maintain close eye contact during conversations.

Ensure that you take safety precautions when in Colombia. Ask your counterparts what areas of the city are dangerous. Be aware that both the murder rate and frequency of kidnapping is significantly high.

The formality of inland Colombians extends to their mannerisms; they do not like to engage in expansive gestures and animation. Residents of the coastal regions tend to be more expressive and less formal.

The standard greeting is the handshake upon introduction and departure.

Among close friends, women may clasp forearms or kiss each other on one cheek. Men embrace and slap each other’s back. This particular hug is known as the “abrazo.”

Colombians typically ask numerous polite questions and go through other pleasantries. Expect inquiries as to your health, your trip, your family, and any friends or acquaintances you have in common. It is considered callous and disrespectful to rush a greeting.

Colombians are not known for punctuality. They may arrive at a business meeting 15 or 20 minutes late, since this is considered the norm.

Selecting representatives from your company is probably the most crucial decision you can make before entering into business with Colombians. They will want to get to know your representatives personally and establish a warm rapport and comradeship.

Colombians make decisions on the basis of feelings, rather than empirical evidence and other facts. This can be true even if you present them with an enticing deal and a “bottom line” that seems sure to be profitable.

The importance of hierarchy should never be underestimated in Colombian business culture. Nevertheless, subordinates within the group, as well as underlying circumstances, also have some influence in the decision-making process.

Before the meeting begins, there is always some preliminary “small talk.” Small talk is necessary, since it conveys to your peers that the personal rapport that you have established with them is a higher priority than just doing business. In most cases, you should wait for your Colombian associates to initiate the business discussion.

When the meeting is over, stay a little bit longer and continue chatting with your colleagues. It’s actually considered an insult in this culture to leave immediately after a meeting because it suggests that you have better things to do.

As a follow-up to your meeting, it is a good idea to send a brief thank-you note, as well as minutes, that is, a written confirmation of what was discussed.

Inland Colombians are probably the most formal and traditional of Latin Americans. Only along the coast is a more relaxed attitude the norm.

Welcome Topics of Conversation 

  • Positive aspects of Colombia, including their wonderful coffee and cuisine.
  • Colombian history, literature, art, and music.
  • The lush Colombian landscape, mountains and coastlines.
  • Your home country and the region you are from.
  • Family discussions are appropriate when initially building rapport.

Conversation to Avoid 

  • Avoid mentioning anything about drug traffic or illegal cartels.
  • Don’t make negative remarks about bullfighting.
  • Avoid talking about differences between the Columbian culture and yours.
  • Avoid any discussion around terrorism, politics and religion.
  • Avoid making complaints of any kind.

Bon Voyage! 

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EMMY AWARD WINNER &International Keynote Speaker, Gayle Cotton is featured on SpeakerSite!

Posted on August 2, 2010 by Comments are off

Dallas TX August 1, 2010 – Speaker Site is now the world’s largest social network of public speakers and event planners. What happens when thousands of expressive people get together? When folks with something important to say (about their passions, professions or products) share experiences and best practices? Here’s what happens: people planning events have a place to go to find the right speaker, emcee, panelist, or expert when they want to learn about a particular topic. So we opened the communal doors of Speaker Site! If you are looking for a speaker, you can browse the membership or we can help you to find that perfect speaker, in your price range, with just the right experience and message.

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