Why successful business English communication means personal growth

Do you ever feel like you're walking on eggshells in international business meetings in English?

Imagine you are in a meeting with an Indian business contact. You are not sure how she might react to your proposal. You are afraid you won’t find the right words when she asks a critical question. 

 

The conversation feels more and more hectic. You get more and stressed. Nervous. Beads of sweat form on your forehead.

You can read from your conversation partner’s face that he is getting more and more confused.

 

You’re starting to think you should just reschedule the meeting.

You wonder if you are saying the right thing to your Indian client when you deliver negative news.  It would be wonderful to be your confident self in negotiations with other cultures. Have a business relationship based on trust and feel comfortable doing all this in English.

 

All of these great outcomes you want and deserve as a business person can be yours.

But you’re going to need to grow as a person to get there. It’s just not about English.

In this blog post I would like to share some tips “how to grow personally – also your confidence” – in international business. So, how do you grow personally while increasing your confidence?

 

Here are 5 qualities you’ll have to cultivate in yourself to be successful at international communication

 

Willingness to get out of your comfort zone

 

In international business you are confronted with a lot of new situations like for example business partners who react differently to what you are used to from your own cultural upbringing.This can leave you feeling anxious and confused, but remember, you just need time to learn enough about people of different cultures to feel truly comfortable interacting. Some confusion is normal - it is part of doing international business. 

When you need to comment on a complex process for example take a short moment to think carefully about your reply before getting nervous and rushed. It is absolutely okay although it might be new to you and a reaction out of your comfort zone.



Open-mindedness

 

This is an important attitude that you need to speak English successfully on the international stage.

You need to have an open mind because your business partners will certainly do things in a completely different way than you are used to. By open-mindedness, I mean accepting that the way you do things in business is not THE only way of doing things. It's important to remember not to judge others if their way of doing business is different from yours. However, you 

will need to explain to your business contact if this way of doing things can create legal issues for you.

E.g. in some cultures mainly Arab countries it is okay to agree to a proposal without signing a contract. It is just not part of the culture to work with signed contracts but to agree to them orally.

It is important to respect that people from other cultures do things differently. It is a part of open-mindedness and leads to mutual understanding.

 

Empathy

 

Showing empathy towards your business partner is an important basis for building trust. Show that you understand him, have some empathetic words for him and most of all – show interest in his culture. You could ask some questions about his culture and the way he does things. Just make sure you don’t overwhelm your business partner with questions. It is more important to give him a good feeling and to show respect.

 

 

 Flexibility

 

Flexibility is another basic attitude for international business because you need to be flexible in your reactions – especially when you need to react to unexpected behaviour. You’ll also  need flexibility in language.

You might need to explain something from a different angle or you need to express yourself in an easier way if your business partner doesn’t have the same level of English.

 

 

Mindset shift

 

The most important skill in international business is being able to adjust your behaviour a little. Here are a few mindset shifts you can start working on today that will help you build rapport with your international business contacts:

 

Change your perspective 

When you have the feeling an international business meeting isn’t running smoothly try to see the whole situation from a different point of view. Can imagine being a spectator who watches the scene from another part of the room for example.

How do you see yourself interacting with your business partners? What comes to mind?

Take a few minutes to think about these questions and what you might need to change here.

 

Challenge your own personality a little.

When you are an introverted person try to make a little small talk to connect with your business partners. It might be challenging but you will see that it is worth the effort.

 

On the other hand when you are an extroverted person and need to deal with business partners from a more introverted culture try and restrain yourself a little.

Give your business partners a little room to reach out to you and participate in the conversation in their own time.

 

Conclusion

 

Dealing with international business partners in English is challenging but rewarding at the same time. Once you got out of your comfort zone and show a little open- mindedness you will make get to know a lot of nice people from different cultures. They might do things differently which requires your empathetic understanding and flexibility.

 

Sometimes you might need to change your perspective to be able to accept a different behaviour. But this is just another step for your own personal growth.

 

Ready to try this in the real world?

Can you think of one situation where a change of perspective or more empathy could help you improve your business rapport?

 

Can you think of a time you’ve used one of the above qualities in your own business dealings?

 

Tell me about it in the comments.

 

Want to take this a step further?

Is your intercultural communication something you need to work on right now? Do you have a specific business situation that requires a specific solution? You might want to work with a coach.

 

 

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