International Market

Learn The Clues to The Taboos In Cultural Signs and Signals

Examples of Cultural Ignorance: 
Test Yourself and Your Employees

Consider the following situations:

u Companies:

  • Culture ignorance means losing business:

  • Steve, International Marketing Manager, arrived to the host country after a 19 hours 
    of flight. He has his big meeting next day with a major foreign distributor.

    Due to the jet lag, Steve couldn't sleep very
    well. He woke up around 5:00 AM and decided to go jogging to unwind. While running he slipped. To break his fall, he used his hand and ended up with a wrist sprain.
    Since his meeting was at 8:30 AM, 
    he decided that it would be best, after the meeting, to tell his host about it and may be get a bandage. 
    Steve arrived to the meeting on time and he had his right hand (sprained wrist) in his pocket (using it as a support to minimize the pain). He was met by the manager who extended his right hand. Steve shook his hand with his left hand and started to explain to him what happened. The manager had a strange look on his face, and before Steve can say anything, the manager, said:" The CEO wanted to meet you, he is coming down on his way to the airport".

    The manager looks at a gentleman approaching them and the manager proceeds to introduce Steve.  The CEO extends his right hand and Steve does the same, shaking his hand with the left hand while keeping the right hand in his pocket.

    At this point, there was a terrible silence.  The CEO looks at Steve, then turns to his manager and starts screaming at  him in his native language. The CEO leaves without as much as one word to Steve. Now, the manager shocks Steve with the bad news:
    "I am sorry, but my CEO said if you are not able to respect our culture, we will not do business with your company, good bye."

    The manager leaves, and Steve finds himself standing in a foreign country, just lost a 
    huge account, and doesn't even know what happened!

    What was Steve's mistake? And how much did his company lose for this mistake?

u Finding And Losing Distributors:
John, a US executive  spent several months in search for the qualified distributor in the target country. The distributor,  Nessos even came to the USA for a detailed training and orientation on  company policies and products.

Overall, the company invested a lot of time and money in finding and training Nessos.

One day, the CEO asked John who was rushing to catch a FEDEX pickup man: "What do you think of Nessos? John responded with the "OK" sign. Nessos happened to be standing upstairs and saw John's response. 

When John came back to the office, Nessos told him  that he has to leave for urgent business and took off. 

Two days later, Nessos called John and told him, he no longer wants to handle the distribution for his company. 

What happened? Why did Nessos drop the
distributorship and at what cost to the company?

If you don't know the answer, you may consider contacting DMS. We can save your company lost time and revenue.

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  • .
    Do You Know In What countries 
    You Will Find Those Gestures?
    • In (_____) , it is offensive to place your arm over the back of a chair in which someone is sitting, or to affectionately pat someone's shoulders or back.
    • In (_____) , the V for victory sign made with your palm facing yourself, is a highly offensive gesture.
    • In (_____),  people smile both when they are happy and when they are upset or angry.
    • In (_____) , to signal that someone is cheap, you would rub your nose with your forefinger from the bridge in a downward motion.
    • When seated, (_____) men will cross their legs at their knees. It is considered "unfeminine" for women in (_____) to cross their legs.
    • In (_____) , always pour wine with the right hand, never with the left hand.
    • In (_____) , to express appreciation, one may pinch his earlobes between thumb and forefinger.
    • In (_____) , holding the palm upward and then spreading the fingers signals that someone is "stupid".
    • In (_____) , people  love to applaud, thus don't be surprised if you were received by a round of applause. To ignore the applause is considered rude and to show respect, you should return the applause.
    • In (_____) , to show your respect to someone while talking, you place your arms folded behind your back.
    • In (_____) , if you need to point, never use a single finger, as this is used only with inferiors

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