Posts tagged with dos and taboos for south africa

Not Knowing = Not Selling! How to Sell to Different Cultures

Posted on August 1, 2015 by Comments are off

Not Selling2Not Knowing = Not Selling! How to Sell to Different Cultures

In today’s global business marketplace, the ability to sell to and communicate effectively with different cultures cannot be underestimated. I found this out very quickly when I lived and worked in Switzerland. I didn’t expect that there would be specific things about me that would have a negative impact when promoting my company’s Cross-Cultural Training Seminars. However, I found out very quickly that I had 3 very specific strikes against me. First I was American, and their attitude was “what could an American teach them about culture?” Second I was female, and there are still considerably fewer business women at high levels in Swiss business. Third I was blonde, and yes — the dumb blonde jokes are global! I decided that I needed to adapt my image and my communication approach to better fit their expectations. That consisted of classic, professional suits; hair in a French twist, and high heels since I’m short. For a group of senior bankers in Zurich, I even wore fake eyeglasses! I also changed my communication style to be more factual, direct, and to the point, something which the Swiss appreciate. I smiled less, minimized my tonal modulations, and was less demonstrative in my body language, gestures, and facial expressions. And – it worked!

Now, you don’t have to travel outside the United States to experience this. The U.S. is a melting pot of people from all over the world. And even though the standard rule ‘When in Rome – do as the Romans’ may apply, we sometimes don’t position ourselves in the best light, and subtly rub someone the wrong way with our actions, gestures, communication style, or even perhaps how we look.

Common Cross-Cultural Mistakes That Are Made When Developing Transcultural Relationships

  • Not being proactive and not adapting to different cultural business expectations. It’s all too easy to get off on the wrong foot and become reactive – especially in the sales process.
  • Not knowing how formality, hierarchy, and timing can affect business interactions, the sales process, and decision making with different cultures. These things can have a tremendous impact on negotiations. Not knowing = not selling.
  • Having your enthusiasm perceived as aggressive, impatient, or even arrogant! Developing a sales relationship often takes longer with different cultures, especially in other countries, so plan accordingly.
  • Coming across as egocentric or too ‘I’ oriented. Many cultures are more team focused or ‘we’ oriented than the typical salesperson in the U.S. This can also greatly impact your choice of marketing style and material.
  • Unintentionally offending someone with your choice of body language or gestures. This is one of the biggest cultural taboos, and can be very difficult to recover from. A basic guideline is to use open- handed gestures. Don’t point with your index finger, don’t use the OK sign, and don’t use the thumbs up or thumbs down gestures. They are likely to subtly offend someone somewhere – even in the U.S.

How can you proactively prepare for multicultural sales?

Awareness is the 1st step! Observe how people communicate with you in person, on the phone, and by email. Notice if they are more formal and expressive, or more direct and to the point. They are telling you how they like to be communicated with so model their style.

If doing business in another country — know your facts. Be aware of the relevant historical data, economic issues, major industries, and geography to name a few. There is nothing more embarrassing than not knowing your facts or geography!

To develop cultural rapport, learn what is important to other cultures. For example, it made international headlines a few years ago when Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah visited President Bush at his Crawford ranch. They were photographed strolling hand in hand through the bluebonnet garden. This was an important sign of their friendship and trust. Sometimes you may even need to go a bit beyond your comfort zone to establish rapport!

Know a few words in the language of the country. 5 simples phrases: “My name is”, “Nice to meet you”, “Please”, “Thank you”, and “Sorry, I only speak a little of your language”. Another phrase that will always be useful is the toast of the land, “Cheers!”

Keep in mind that we are blending and homogenizing into a global culture, so even with all the knowledge we acquire, we can’t ever take cultural tendencies for granted. As soon as you do — you’ll be surprised by something completely unexpected!  That’s why observation and awareness is so important.

5 Keys to Successful Cross-Cultural Communication

  1. Create Proactive Communication: Stay out of the reactive cycle. Focus on positioning yourself, your product, and your company so that it facilitates partnerships and trust. This is an important first step before jumping into the business at hand.
  2. Rapport Secrets: Adapt your marketing material, sales style, and business approach to the cultural preferences of the customer.
  3. Organize Productive Interactions: Work towards collaboration and a ‘win-win’ outcome for all parties. This helps to avoid conflict and cultural sensitivities. It establishes trust, and influences decision-makers.
  4. Strategies for Relationships: Create strategies based on cultural expectations, and incorporate the appropriate level of formality. Understand the business hierarchy, the decision making protocol, and the timing necessary for sales cycles.
  5. Success Leaves Clues: Learn the Dos and Taboos of the country and cultures you sell to and partner with. Notice what works and what doesn’t. Change your approach based on the results, and enjoy the process!

Bon Voyage… Cheers to successful multicultural sales in 2015!

To learn more about the Dos and Taboos for different cultures, and the communication styles of Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East – order Gayle Cotton’s bestselling book SAY Anything to Anyone, Anywhere! 5 Keys to Successful Cross-Cultural Communication’ available on Amazon as a Book, eBook, or Audio Book

Create Rapport and Organize Strategies for Success

The CROSS of Cross-Cultural

Check out the ARTICLE ARCHIVES ‘Cultural Clues Do’s and Taboos’ for countries you may have missed!

Emmy Award Winner, Gayle Cotton, is the author of this blog and of the bestselling cross-cultural communication book, SAY Anything to Anyone, Anywhere! 5 Keys to Successful Cross-Cultural Communication’, available on Amazon as a Book, eBook, or Audio Book. She is President of Circles Of Excellence Inc. and a distinguished Professional Keynote Speaker. Contact Gayle if you need conference speakers for events, speakers on cultural diversity, or professional keynote speakers that specialize in cross-cultural communication training and cross-cultural training programs. She is a leader in the industry of professional motivational speakers and professional public speakers. Known for her cross-cultural communication books and intercultural training, she is among the best of female keynote speakers, women motivational speakers, and international keynote speakers. She is a cross-cultural speaker and expert on social business etiquette. Gayle travels worldwide, entertaining, educating, and inspiring audiences with her fresh and unique style, and is sure to please any audience with her charm, wit, and humor!

Circles Of Excellence provides Corporate Training, Executive Coaching, and Professional Keynote Speakers for companies of all sizes and in all industries, including over 50 Fortune 500 companies. Contact us about our customized programs for Communication Skills, Cross-Cultural Communications, Customer Service, Diversity, Leadership & Management, Presentation Skills, Sales & Negotiations, Stress Management, Team Building, and Time Management.

 

Website: www.circlesofexcellence.com

MEDIA: Newsroom Media Interviews

Gayle Cotton’s speaker website: www.gaylecotton.com

Video clips: Speaker preview for Gayle Cotton

Gayle Cotton’s book website: SAY Anything to Anyone, Anywhere!

Soon on the: Circles Of Excellence blog

Cross-cultural article: Cultural Clues, Do’s and Taboos for SOUTH AFRICA

Soon on: Gayle Cotton’s blog

Cross-cultural article: Cultural Clues, Do’s and Taboos for RUSSIA

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Cultural Clues, Do’s and Taboos: A Touch of Grace

Posted on January 18, 2015 by Comments are off

To touch or not to touch?

How about a touch of grace!

Touch of Grace-Kate -Labron JamesCultural etiquette, politeness, and good manners are passed down through societies from generation to generation. Etiquette refers to the cultural guidelines for what is appropriate or inappropriate and polite or impolite. It gives a culture structure, integrity, grace, and finesse—all of which are uniquely adapted from one culture to another. Fortunately, simple business and social etiquette are often based on basic common sense. Although etiquette styles and fads may come and go, the fundamentals of global etiquette remain essentially the same.Often I’m asked about cultural ‘faux pas’, especially as they relate to gestures and touching someone in a way that breaks cultural protocol. This unintentional breach of protocol happens frequently, and will continue to happen, however the real etiquette come into play when the breach is handled with such grace and dignity that the breach dissolves unnoticed! Two examples of this come to mind.

Recently when Prince William and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, were presented with a Cleveland Cavaliers T-shirt for Prince George by LaBron James, LaBron put his arm around Kate’s shoulder for the photo, unaware that touching the royal family has been known to break the accepted protocol. Neither Prince William nor Kate showed any sign of being uncomfortable with LaBron’s gesture, showing instead dignity and a touch a grace.

Another similar situation happened in March 2012 when President Obama and the First Lady meet Queen Elizabeth in England. In this case, the Queen first extended her arm to touch Michelle Obama’s back, at which point Mrs. Obama responded in like creating an embrace between the two. The British media was abuzz with this show of affection by the Queen who had not publically displayed this sort of affection in 57 years! From the perspective of “rapport”, perhaps the Queen was welcoming Mrs. Obama in the manner more typically comfortable for the U.S. than England. Traditionally, the protocol would be to follow the customs of etiquette for the country you are in, however Queen Elizabeth and the First lady showed that doing things differently can be just fine!

A touch of grace happens when we let go of traditional cultural expectations and connect on the level of the culture we have in common – the ‘Human Culture’. As we begin 2015, perhaps we can focus more on what we have in common rather than on our differences. The following 7 tips will help us do just that!

§  Be respectful: Respect is a universal language!

§  Show you care: Learn what’s important to the cultures you visit or work with

§  Strike a balance: Find the comfortable middle ground between cultures. No one expects you to be just like them!

§  Know your geography: There is nothing more embarrassing than not knowing the location of a country and its neighbors!

§  Mind your manners: Learn what is considered polite and impolite for the countries you visit

§  Learn how to greet: Greetings are as diverse as the cultures themselves. There are handshakes, kisses, hugs, and bows, and they come in all different sizes!

§  Show a touch of grace: Differences are the spice of life! When it comes to cultural etiquette, no one expects perfection. Enjoy yourself, and it’s highly likely your counterparts will do the same!

To learn more about the Dos and Taboos for different cultures, and the communication styles of Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East – order Gayle Cotton’s bestselling book SAY Anything to Anyone, Anywhere! 5 Keys to Successful Cross-Cultural Communication’ available on Amazon as a Book, eBook, or Audio Book

 Create Rapport and Organize Strategies for Success

The CROSS of Cross-Cultural

Check out the ARTICLE ARCHIVES ‘Cultural Clues Do’s and Taboos’ for what you may have missed!

Emmy Award Winner, Gayle Cotton, is the author of this blog and of the bestselling cross-cultural communication book, SAY Anything to Anyone, Anywhere! 5 Keys to Successful Cross-Cultural Communication’, available on Amazon as a Book, eBook, or Audio Book. She is President of Circles Of Excellence Inc. and a distinguished Professional Keynote Speaker. Contact Gayle if you need conference speakers for events, speakers on cultural diversity, or professional keynote speakers that specialize in cross-cultural communication training and cross-cultural training programs. She is a leader in the industry of professional motivational speakers and professional public speakers. Known for her cross-cultural communication books and intercultural training, she is among the best of female keynote speakers, women motivational speakers, and international keynote speakers. She is a cross-cultural speaker and expert on social business etiquette. Gayle travels worldwide, entertaining, educating, and inspiring audiences with her fresh and unique style, and is sure to please any audience with her charm, wit, and humor!

Circles Of Excellence provides Corporate Training, Executive Coaching, and Professional Keynote Speakers for companies of all sizes and in all industries, including over 50 Fortune 500 companies. Contact us about our customized programs for Communication Skills, Cross-Cultural Communications, Customer Service, Diversity, Leadership & Management, Presentation Skills, Sales & Negotiations, Stress Management, Team Building, and Time Management.

 

Website: www.circlesofexcellence.com

MEDIA: Newsroom Media Interviews

Gayle Cotton’s speaker website: www.gaylecotton.com

Video clips: Speaker preview for Gayle Cotton

 Gayle Cotton’s book website: SAY Anything to Anyone, Anywhere!

 Soon on the: Circles Of Excellence blog

Cross-cultural article: Cultural Clues, Do’s and Taboos for SOUTH AFRICA

Soon on: Gayle Cotton’s blog

Cross-cultural article: Cultural Clues, Do’s and Taboos for RUSSIA

Article archive for what you’ve missed! Cultural Clues, Do’s and Taboos

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Cultural Clues, Do’s & Taboos: Communication Guidelines for SOUTH AFRICA

Posted on November 15, 2014 by Comments are off

The Latest! Cultural Clues, Do’s & Taboos – A Series of Cultural Tips for Countries from A to Z: SOUTH AFRICASouth Africa

The article ‘Cultural Clues, Do’s and Taboos for South Africa’ is a brief snapshot of conversation guidelines for South Africa, tips for communicating in South Africa, and strategies for doing business with South Africa to help with understanding the culture in South Africa. It’s important to keep in mind that as we homogenize as a ‘global culture’, cultural tendencies change and evolve as well. Awareness is the first step when it comes to tips for intercultural communication!

Emmy Award Winner, Gayle Cotton, is the author of this article and of the bestselling book, SAY Anything to Anyone, Anywhere! 5 Keys to Successful Cross-Cultural Communication’, available on Amazon as a Book, eBook, or Audio Book. She is President of Circles Of Excellence for Corporate Education, and a distinguished Professional Keynote Speaker. Contact Gayle to be a conference speaker for your events! She is a cross cultural expert that will entertain and inspire audiences of all sizes with her fresh, unique, and humorous approach to cross-cultural communication and social business etiquette. Gayle travels worldwide from business bases in Texas and Switzerland.

Cultural Tips for SOUTH AFRICA

Business travel tips for South Africa that will pave the way!

When doing business in South Africa, keep in mind that the English, the Afrikaners, and the black Africans all have distinct forms of greeting, and while united as South Africans, each tends to mirror their collective personality.

South Africa is the industrial center of Africa, and is a key producer of minerals including diamonds, gold, silver, and copper.

Any hint of ignorance about the South African domestic or regional political scene will almost surely disqualify you from doing business in this country.

With Apartheid gone, South Africa has emerged as one of the most multicultural nations, being composed of British, Afrikaans, Malay, Indian, Zulu, Xhosa, and other black tribes.

South Africa is not a “melting pot”, but rather a society composed of various communities and races that remain separate yet integral forces in seeking a new union aspiring to lead and repair the country.

English speaking South Africans tend to be reserved, proud of their cultural heritage, have good manners, elegant, expressive speech, and avoid unnecessary conflict. Afrikaners, like their Dutch ancestors, are more direct and to the point and have a tendency to “tell it like it is.”

Many South Africans are bilingual, and speak English and Afrikaans (of Dutch origin).

Some South Africans speak English with a heavy accent, as well as in a fast rhythm. It’s important that you pay close attention, because constantly asking people to repeat themselves will eventually be insulting.

Introductions are usually orchestrated in order of seniority. South Africans appreciate a good education, so an advanced degree from a well-known University may be referenced in the introduction.

Typically, South Africans follow the British style of a polite, formal exchange of handshakes and business card exchanges.

Always wait to be asked to sit down. Once seated, expect to be asked a couple of times if you want coffee or tea. It’s a good idea to accept, as this provides a break in the formality and allows for the start of some preliminary “small talk.”

A common interest in sports goes a long way in solidifying the personal side of a business relationship. Casually mentioning that you’d love to see a cricket match or rugby game might just get you an invitation to one!

By nature, South Africans are a warm, friendly, outgoing people, and conversations can get personal after a relatively brief period of time. They will take a genuine interest in the way of life in your home country and what you think of South Africa.

If there is a long period of silence in the course of a conversation, it is a sign that the situation has become awkward or there is something else that is wrong.

South Africans tend to use demonstrative body language when talking. You’ll likely experience a lot of handshaking and some backslapping. With friends and close associates, hand-holding is a sign of friendship.

In contrast, business discussions are conducted in a cordial manner and in quiet voices. A raised voice will be interpreted as an insult. Also, increasing your volume runs the risk of getting you branded as a pushy foreigner more concerned about the “bottom line” than the personal side of a business relationship.

South African businesspeople aren’t easily impressed with slide presentations. The first meeting is about establishing personal rapport and deciding if you’re a person they can trust. It would be a mistake to expect any instant decisions or deals until the relationship is well established.

Keep your presentation short, to the point, and filled with specific ideas related to the special circumstances of doing business in South Africa. Sometimes, the logistics and financing of the deal are more important to South Africans than the actual product or service that you are trying to sell.

Generally, South Africans don’t like to admit that they don’t know an answer. A lot of this tendency has to do with the tradition of hospitality and the desire not to disappoint. Don’t push for an immediate answer, and the correct information will likely be provided to you in the very near future.

The pace of business is somewhat slower and more relaxed when it comes to negotiations and the decision-making process. Being overly aggressive about deadlines will be counterproductive. Avoid the “hare-sell” since that may be perceived as pushy.

In negotiations and decision-making, South Africans strive to build consensus, and prefer to see all sides gain something. For the most part, they are ruled by a sense of fair play, and it’s rare for them to “haggle” over prices or obsess over details.

5 Key Conversation Topics or Gesture Tips

  • Maintaining good eye contact is essential
  • Talking about sports is an effective way to personalize business. Make the effort to learn about the country’s accomplishments in golf, rugby, and cricket
  • A small yet thoughtful gift for your business associates or their families will be greatly appreciated. Personalized gifts are the best
  • Talking about your home country, as well as your interest in South Africa — it’s diverse and beautiful terrain, rich culture, and wild life
  • The evolving racial and social policies are open to discussion, but make sure you are well versed on the topic, and don’t impose your views

5 Key Conversation Topics or Gesture Taboos

  • It’s impolite to point with your index finger so use an open hand
  • Talking with your hands in your pockets is considered rude
  • When passing through a doorway, it’s customary for African men to precede women
  • Don’t initiate or participate in racist or sexist conversations should the topic arise
  • The “V” or peace sign is the same as giving “someone the finger”, and it’s usually punctuated by an upward thrust of the hand

Bon Voyage!

Join us in the future for SOUTH KOREA!

To learn more about the Do’s & Taboos for South Africa, doing business in South Africa, and the communication and business styles of Asia/Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East – order my bestselling book SAY Anything to Anyone, Anywhere! 5 Keys to Successful Cross-Cultural Communication’ available on Amazon as a Book, eBook, or Audio Book

Create Rapport and Organize Strategies for Success

The CROSS of Cross-Cultural

Check out the ARTICLE ARCHIVES ‘Cultural Clues Do’s and Taboos’ for countries you may have missed!

Circles Of Excellence provides Corporate Training, Executive Coaching, and Professional Keynote Speakers for companies of all sizes and in all industries, including over 50 Fortune 500 companies. Contact us about our customized programs for Communication Skills, Cross-Cultural Communications, Customer Service, Diversity, Leadership & Management, Presentation Skills, Sales & Negotiations, Stress Management, Team Building, and Time Management.

 

Website: www.circlesofexcellence.com

MEDIA: Newsroom Media Interviews

Gayle Cotton’s speaker website: www.gaylecotton.com

Video clips: Speaker preview for Gayle Cotton

Gayle Cotton’s book website: SAY Anything to Anyone, Anywhere!

Soon on the: Circles Of Excellence blog

Cross-cultural article: Cultural Clues, Do’s and Taboos for SOUTH AFRICA

Soon on: Gayle Cotton’s blog

Cross-cultural article: Cultural Clues, Do’s and Taboos for PORTUGAL

Article archive for what you’ve missed! Cultural Clues, Do’s and Taboos Articles

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