Business people who hope to profit from their travel should learn about the history, culture, and customs of the countries they wish to visit. Flexibility and cultural adaptation should be the guiding principles for traveling abroad on business. To succeed overseas, Americans must pay close attention to different styles of doing business and the degree of importance placed on developing business relationships. Attention to detail can go a long way in making you stand out among the competition.
For example, attitudes toward punctuality vary greatly from one culture to another, and misunderstanding those attitudes may cause confusion. In fact, when cultural lines are being crossed, something as simple as a greeting can be misunderstood. Misunderstandings over gestures are also common occurrences in intercultural communication and can lead to business complications and social embarrassment. Proper use of names and titles is often a source of confusion in international business relations as well.
Through research or training, you can acquire a working knowledge of the business culture, management attitudes, business methods, and consumer habits before you travel abroad. This knowledge is very likely to have a positive effect on your overseas travel. The U.S. Commercial Service publishes Country Commercial Guides that include a section on business culture. Click here to access these guides.