This Diversity Day I would like to promote contemporary music as the ideal communication to show diversion and human relation. Not only because the origin of composers all over the world, but also because music is the international worldlanguage.
Compose and enjoy this very day, Stan Paardekooper
Gnr. Manager
Asko|Schoenberg Ensemble
Verzonden vanaf mijn draadloze BlackBerry®-toestel

It was just a small mistake from somebody trying to be helpful but it had big consequences. I was part of an international group staying in a hotel in Dublin, Ireland and a few of us were at the reception desk trying to obtain our receipts. The receptionist was having problems and was getting more and more flustered. Finally a German from our group leant over her computer to see what was going on and started offering advice by saying, ‘You have to click here and then here.’ at which point the receptionist burst into tears…
Interculturalists and cross-cultural communication
specialists are the first to advise caution when it comes to using humour in  international business. Copywriters and marketers often avoid humour for fear of offending readers in an increasingly diverse market place.

However, according to a recent study laughter may be a profit-enhancing business tool when used in negotiations by increasing trust and rapport. Read below to understand the role of humour on the early stages of negotiations and its subsequent impact on the trust between the negotiating parties – and, most importantly, whether there was any commercial gain…


Cross-cultural differences in colour meanings are sometimes the least of our worries when communicating internationally. I have just finished off an article which is to appear in the next edition of Winning EDGE magazine for the Insitute of Sales and Marketing. In it, I caution marketers to know their target audience as different cultures ascribe various meanings to colours. How easy is it to convey the wrong meaning by getting colour choice wrong?

White in the west symbolises brides, angels, good guys versus funerals and death in the East; black in the West symbolises death, funerals and bad guys versus a colour for young boys in China and restoring balance in Chakra energy (Indian medicine). Then I went on a hunt to find out more. This is what I found out…

Why is it that serious attempts at sharing knowledge acrosscross-culture
cultures frequently end in frustration, disappointment and a sense of aggrievement on all sides?

The problem is that people from different cultures have fundamentally different beliefs about the proper roles of bosses and subordinates, teachers and students, and even about the nature of knowledge itself.

absolutely-interculturalI recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by Ann Fox of Absolutely Intercultural! And, being two interculturalists, we had LOTS to talk about. In this first part podcast Ann is asking me about intercultural communication and my speciality – how to shape your message when presenting to an international audience. Click on the link to find out more: how to present to international audiences.

Talking to Ann Fox about her award winning audio blog site was extremely interesting. Check out the site and see what a range of people and topics ther are on offer.

An Emotional Appeal

Have you ever negotiated with an Italian?  The experience I had was very much like attending an opera.  Of course there is always a tragic story that you need to know before the negotiation starts. And the person you are negotiating with is the victim …. Unless you help.  The overture starts and the scene is set.  He rises before you, the room is dark, the people sombre. The first act will begin. The negotiator expresses his heartfelt sorrow over the situation, his despair; he shows you pictures of his children, and tells you how they will suffer if things do not work out for him in his work.  Only you can help. He then goes into his second act with a higher-pitched voice, and his arms starting to swing as he shows you their agony through his voice and face and intonations. Then the negotiation story reaches a climax with his needs or plea to you, however outrageous it may be. He stops, checks to see if he has totally lost you, and then slowly lets you down to rest. The story is over. He sits down. He pulls out a cigarette and takes a long draw from it. He wipes his brow. And you are left to ponder his tragic case.”

  Excerpt from Dr. Tracy Willen’s book
“International Business: A basic guide for women”

  • Treat business card giving with more respect.
  • Your card is your ambassador; a cheap and nasty one says the same about you. A poorly designed and badly printed card will help to make you appear cheap and nasty too. Invest in decent cards.
  • If you don’t already, start to carry business cards everywhere you go.
  • Carry spare business cards in your bag, briefcase, and even in the glove compartment of your car.
  • Keep your cards in a particular pocket or the same place in your bag so that you can retrieve one without difficulty. Put all ‘incoming cards’ into a different pocket or a different place in your bag.
  • Consider putting your photo on your card – it helps people remember you when they flick through their card collection. Rather than a boring head and shoulders shot, use something that shows you being active or doing your job.
  • How about including on the back of your card, a brief summary of what results you or your company provides its customers? In other words, sell the benefit and emphasise the pain that you provide the solution to.
  • Add “We met at…” This allows you or the recipient of the card to add details of your meeting. This can help your contacts remember you more clearly.
  • If you perform a number of different job functions – have different cards. If you are self-employed, rather than including what you do – just use your name. Your card will have wider usage.
  • Perhaps include on the back too. “Please keep this card for reference or pass on to a colleague”.
  • If someone is particularly interesting when you meet them ask for two cards. 
  • Discard any out of date business cards and have new ones designed and printed.

Source: my thanks to Roy Shepard and his excellent book “Meet, Greet & Prosper”

Find more information about cross cultural differences in the exchange of business cards by clicking on the following links:

Top Ten Tips on passing business cards with cultural fluency

Japan: everything you need to know about business card ‘meishi’ etiquette

U.S.,  Britain, Australia: Business Card Etiquette

The art of business card giving: an East West perspective

My previous two blogs have focused on the etiquette bus cardsand rituals
surrounding (or not) the exchange of business cards in the Far East and in passing cards with cultural fluency. This blog focuses on How and when to offer your business card when you do business in the Anglo-Saxon countries.

It seems a really strange topic for someone in the UK to read/write about it because we almost don’t care and aren’t bothered – we just ‘toss’ them around and ’dish’ them out as and when required without much thought. It’s a very informal gesture – but – that informality has a MUCH deeper meaning…

xcflag1In the global commercial world you can’t survive without a business card. A business card is the thing that consolidates ‘who you are’, gives you a ‘proper’ identity and tells the world that you are ‘open for business’. However, people around the world project different meanings on the exchange of cards doing it, therefore, in different ways.

In some cultures, the exchange symbolises the beginning of a relationship. The most ritualistic and sensitive to the practice of business card exchange are the Asian countries (Japan and Korea in particular). Perhaps the least are the British/US/Australians where NO significance whatsoever is attached to the exchange – it’s merely a function of giving someone your details – a reminder.

If you want to ensure that you don’t offend, read the Top Ten Tips below and the special section on Japan and the other on US/Britain. Instructive and comical videos included: