“No One Travelling On A Business Trip Would be Missed If He Failed To Arrive” Thorstein Verblen
It’s that time of year when businesses in Europe, especially in Southern Europe, close or have closed for their annual summer break.
It’s that time when businesspeople trade their business suits in for bathing shorts and swimwear exposing their pale legs to the summer sun!
Can you picture the scene? Mmmm…say no more.
However, it’s business as usual in other parts of the world and that may even include business travel including foreign business travel and that’s what I want to talk about in this post.
Listen to the post
[soundcloud id=’335796678′ height=’false’]
Do you travel overseas for business?
Let me ask you…when you’re on a business trip, what’s your schedule like?
Do you try and fill your working day and evening with meetings? It would be understandable if you did. After all, time is money and if you’re only on a short business trip you want to achieve as much as you can in the short space of time you have available.
However, have you ever thought about the people you’re doing business with? In other words, the person you’re visiting?
Have you ever checked with them if a late evening (dinner) meeting or an early morning breakfast meeting would be convenient for them? Or have you simply expected them to be available for you just because you’re coming from abroad? In other words, your trip is a special event and the others should ‘drop everything’ to fit in with your schedule.
I have often seen this happen, either through my previous business experience or what my clients have told me.
Here’s the thing though…
The expectation you, as the foreign visitor, have that your host be available whenever you want can cause tension and get right under their skin (irritate), especially if you haven’t apologised in advance or shown appreciation for the inconvenience caused.
There’s a feeling that you have forgotten your manners (politeness) at home. In other words, you appear to be rude and inconsiderate.
This scenario is described in this article I read in The Economist (shared by a reader). It is about how business travellers often forget their manners while on a business trip.
The article also shares different examples of bad manners that often come from a lack of cultural awareness.
A lack of cultural awareness
For example, the journalist mentions how Americans prefer to have breakfast meetings and don’t drink wine at lunch, so when they visit London they’ll arrange a brainstorming meeting over scrambled eggs (breakfast) or order fizzy water at lunch (no wine).
This is something the Europeans don’t especially like.
On the other hand, according to the article, the Europeans have been criticised for dressing incorrectly (too immodest) when visiting parts of the Middle East and Asia. (I have seen this in Malaysia.)
I have written about this before and I’m sure you’d agree that when doing business with other cultures and visiting their countries, we should make sure we are up to speed ( fully informed) of what is expected of us. That way we don’t cause offence but show respect.
Similarly, if we’re on a tight schedule and need to have many meetings that could extend into late evenings or start early in the morning, we should be courteous and give the other person(s) plenty of warning and show our appreciation for their flexibility.
Who’s ‘calling the shots’ here?
Having said that, as the Economist journalist points out, most business relationships are unequal in terms of who holds the power. So, a buyer can be ruder than a seller, for example.
If you want business from a prospective client, they have power over you. So, they ultimately call the shots (decide everything). If they want to see you at 7.30am, they can.
But if you hold the power, you can decide to say no AND to order wine with your lunch! Yes! Victory, at last!
Do you have examples of impoliteness (unintended, I’m sure) by visitors to your company and country? What were they and how did you deal with them? Or have you occasionally been guilty of not showing enough consideration to your host?
I’d love you to share your experiences with me in the comments box.
Before you go,
If you liked this lesson and want to receive more lessons directly to your inbox, why not join the EWAT community?
Not only will you receive your FREE weekly lessons every Friday, you’ll also receive 3 more bonuses completely free.
Sign up today and be a part of the fast-growing EWAT community of professionals.
I can’t wait to welcome you.
Ciao for now