On March 7th over 150 community leaders, Anderson University graduate students, and local residents throughout the Anderson community joined together for two informative sessions on cultural competency and international business at the Anderson University Flagship Center. A project with roots in education and economic development, the Flagship International Symposium’s purpose was to recognize the 19 international companies that call Madison County, Indiana home and educate local professionals and residents on the importance of cultural etiquette.
The International Center from downtown Indianapolis presented on multiple topics including international protocol, intercultural communication, and how to acclimate international employees to a foreign culture. CEO and President of the Indianapolis International Center, Mr. Martin Baier hosted a panel on "Attracting and Retaining Global Talent and Creating and Maintaining International Business Relationships." Among the panelists were Colin Renk, Executive Director, America China Society of Indiana, Daniel Grimm, Director, Strategic Partnerships, Alliance Française d’Indianapolis, and Christopher Case, Director of Operations, SRAM.
Five Major Takeaways from the 2017 Flagship International Symposium:
#1. Assume nothing about people. Just because a person doesn't look you in the eye doesn't make them dangerous or untrustworthy. Eye contact is deemed as disrespectful in many cultures.
#2. Use open ended questions to communicate.
#3. Misinterpretation can happen quickly when humor fails to translate. Translations are extremely important to get correct when marketing products to international markets. Gestures that are acceptable in the U.S. may not be other places. For example, the okay sign is offensive in many parts of Europe. Color should be used carefully. Research what colors mean to different cultural groups. For example, in China, white is a color of mourning and is not used or worn in weddings.
#4. Communication lines are different by location. Western is linear, Middle Eastern is a spiral, and Eastern is circular
#5. When receiving/giving a greeting, reciprocate what is offered (if someone bows, you bow. If they offer a less firm handshake, reciprocate the same firmness).
To learn more about cultural etiquette and workshops available on the topic, visit: www.theinternationalcenter.org
Above: The International Center slide shows how Western communication styles differ from that of Middle-Eastern and Eastern communication styles