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Opinion

Enabling efficient cross-cultural interactions

This week, Eviliina Lutfi shares her perspective regarding communication that resonates across cultures.

Recently, the societal, economic and environmental status quo has been shaken up by rapid global changes on multiple levels. It has become obvious that without cross-sectoral international co-operation global challenges cannot be overcome. Co-operating on a theoretical level is no longer enough. New collaboration practices are needed in order to achieve success in the business sector.

The journey to business practices that enable efficient cross-cultural interactions can be long. On this journey, it is good to remember that even fundamental things can be different between the cultures. The most important thing, however, is to keep relationships warm and friendly.

Based on my personal background and professional experience, I can say that the use of language, such as word choices and phrasing, is different between representatives of different countries. In the process of negotiations, or any other business interactions, it is much wiser to first build good personal relationships with the partners and then move forward in the business discussions.

Other important aspects for building successful business relationships between different cultures are co-operation on the local level and integration into the local business network. In Finland, the majority of enterprises are SMEs, which makes it challenging to develop individual companies’ skills for successful internationalisation. Business clusters and ecosystems are a much more efficient way to move in the same direction, at a faster pace.

By joining forces, businesses can tap into domestic resources, deepen their understanding of target markets and develop professional capabilities towards successful local integration. Neutral parties can take leadership roles in these business clusters, assisting with cultural adaptation and business advisory work. In my opinion, non-profit organisations are the most suitable candidates for the role of “bridges” between enterprises due to their impartiality and recognised expert role in the society.

Cross-cultural business communication has many dimensions and there is no such thing as “one model fits all”. Quite often the Finnish enterprises which attempt to go to foreign markets are not paying full attention to how different the mindset is between the countries. Instead, they might immediately proceed to the technical and implementation aspects of business, completely forgetting the cultural aspect.

Published on 21.06.2018