Doing Business and Interacting Across Cultures


When it comes to navigating cultural differences and doing business across cultures, we need to develop our intercultural competences, in order to be socially and professionally successful.

This translates into making an effort to understand our own personality, our own cognitive, behavioural and attitude dimensions and be open to understand the other’s.

People tend to expect from others the same behaviour they learned themselves .Also, people have the natural human tendency of, facing the unknown, act and “fill in” the information gaps, with assumptions based on each one’s emotional and cultural background.

A Dutch professional, who was about to relocate in Lisbon, to assure a managing position in a Dutch/Portuguese company, asked me once:

  • “How am I expected to behave as a team manager in Portugal?”

His question revealed that he had already developed a good level of Cultural Awareness and wanted to develop his Intercultural Competence about Portugal.

Most authors and intercultural experts such as Hall, Hofstede, Trompenaars, Erin Meyers and many others, agree that a normative pattern emerges in each country. They identified different cultural dimensions, which must be considered.

In the “The Cultural Map” book, Erin Meyers showed how cultures vary along a spectrum from one extreme to the opposite, when it comes to communicating, evaluating, persuading, leading, deciding, trusting, disagreeing and scheduling. Erin also pointed out The Cultural Relativity paradigm:

-“It´s the relative positioning of each Culture in the range that determines how people view the others … UK people, for example, can be perceived as very task based when observed by the French, but as little task-based when observed by Germans”.

There is a lot to say about the challenge of interacting, managing multicultural teams and doing business across cultures. All of us had, I believe, many interesting learning experiences.

Would you like to share which were the major cultural differences you found between Dutch and Portuguese business cultures? Which was the best advice someone ever gave you ?

By sharing our thoughts and best learning experiences, we all can grow together.