When communicating with clients and partners throughout your international Supply Chain, there are many important factors which must be considered. Here at GEODIS, we have 41,000 employees world-wide constantly in contact with different team members and customers scattered across the globe. Each of us has different requests, concerns, and assignments which require communication and collaboration to successfully complete them. Although we are all striving towards the same goal, the influences of our location and culture are always an undertone to most interactions.
In international business, receiving an email at 3:00 a.m. is a normal occurrence as the email’s sender could live on the other side of the world from you. Answering emails outside of work hours and having flexible response times has become expected and part of the norm when working with international clients or partners. For this reason, time difference is one of the most important things to consider when communicating with your global peers or customers. Simple tasks such as meetings and deadlines can quickly become confusing if time zones are not articulated effectively. Additionally, be prepared for delayed responses or late task completion when working with a coworker in another time zone. To combat these problems, make sure to be clear and concise in your communication and even follow up to make sure all deadlines were understood properly.
Language and culture are also important aspects to consider when operating internationally. For instance, different cultures have different holidays that are celebrated throughout the year, so having a calendar which lists international holidays by your desk might often come in handy. Moreover, each culture has their own traditions that they follow. For some it might be the norm to engage in conversation and mannerisms before carrying out business topics within a meeting while for others, they would prefer to get straight to the point and carry on with their day. It is important to be aware of the cultural differences so you can prepare and plan your time accordingly. In terms of language, it can often be helpful to keep humor limited. It is crucial to understand that the context of jokes is very idiomatic, being that every culture develops its own sense of humor based on its personal influences and language. Often with humor, for a non-native speaker, a joke could come off wrong or at the very least not translate effectively between two languages. When I say to limit your use of humor, I am not saying to be unfriendly or dry at all times, but that it is crucial to understand your audience and the context of your conversation. Another great tip for dealing with global business is that if you know even a little of the client’s country language you should try to demonstrate that knowledge within communication. By doing so, you can show you care about who your customer is and where they come from and can help you develop a more well-rounded relationship.
Making sure to have consideration and awareness are two things that will take you far in your international business activities. They are traits that can also benefit you in all aspects of life – from engaging in business, to traveling, or to simply being social – so knowing how to utilize them will make all the difference.