Culture cannot be global: doing business outside your comfort zone

Dorottya Okros|12th April 2017

Communication is a critical business skill, and in marketing, it is our business. Mastering the art of communication, however, usually means reading books or taking seminars run by people from our own culture who are teaching us how to communicate better within that culture. But you can be the best communicator in all of Britain, and still fail to get your point across in a meeting with the EMEA or CIS Director of Marketing if you haven’t taken their cultural communication style into account when preparing for your meeting.

Cultural context is everything when you’re working with teams from a different background to your own. Think of how many times you experience miscommunication and misunderstanding with your own family members - and these are people who share your cultural context.

In this article, Senior Associate UX Researcher Dorottya Okros talks through the common communication and negotiation pitfalls of working with Eastern Europe and the CIS for British presenters.

Culture develops on different levels

Culture develops at a national, local, and even company or team level. And communication styles can differ wildly from culture to culture. You might see this on a micro level within a company – one brand team may have a manager who prefers very direct, succinct communications, while another brand team may communicate in a more formal, long-form style. Neither is ‘wrong’, but if someone moved from the formal style team to the direct team, they would likely have an initial struggle to adapt.

Now magnify that problem to the country level. From a business perspective, understanding national behaviour can be the key to success when developing content and strategy for our clients, or simply, when we have a business meeting with an affiliate. Think of how many companies sit within the EMEA region. This grouping into a region falsely suggests that Europe, the Middle East, and Africa will have the same requirements, same understanding, and same attitudes, culture, approach, religion etc. Clearly, they do not. And treating a meeting with the brand leaders of EMEA as one entity would be a grave mistake.

As soon as we understand the cultural differences between regions, and even the differences within that specific region, we can better prepare ourselves for the upcoming conversation, negotiation, or presentation. We can prepare more relevant deliverables, and hold better trainings and workshops. We can also foresee their reactions to our plans for them. Meeting cultural and communication needs is essential.

Getting communication right: an Eastern European example

Because British managers tend to be more politically correct, confrontation avoidant, and emotionally less expressive then other cultures, they may face great challenges when they need to hold a training for Eastern Europeans (who are more confrontational and emotionally expressive). When providing feedback, they would say things they are used to within their society and culture. For example, “I only have a few minor comments regarding your document”  is understood by Brits to mean that one should think again and have another go at the document, but for anyone else, this could be understood at face value as minor suggestions.

In the precision medicine era, the line between products and services is blurred

Amit Sheinholtz and Ilektra Safari|27th August 2020

Precision and personalised medicines are more than products, they are services in their own right. So, how should pharma approach this uncharted territory to ensure targeted therapies work for patients?

read more

Understanding COVID-19 and varying responses across the globe

Lauren Fernandes|28th July 2020

At the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Senior Account Executive Lauren Fernandes took a course at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to better understand how the global response to the virus and to ensure we were best positioned to serve our clients during this challenging time. She shares the key learnings and why understanding the epidemiology of the disease is integral for fighting it.

read more

Delivering impactful customer engagements in COVID-19

Blue Latitude Health|14th July 2020

Blue Latitude Health, and our parent company Fishawack Health, have developed exclusive intellectual property, processes and tools to ensure you’re engaging customers in the right way. View our service one-pagers below to find out how we can help solve your challenges whether you’re in a medical, brand, portfolio or an above brand role.

read more