absolutely intercultural 122 +++ besig +++ contracts +++ mindfulness +++ longterm relationships +++ pragmatics +++

In this show we’re going to be hearing about why knowledge of the local culture is important, how different cultures understand the notion of a contract, what sort of intercultural problems business people have, the right and wrong way to express disagreement and lots more. In the past we have brought you tasters from various conferences on intercultural topics and in this show we are very lucky to have been given permission to bring you extracts from the recent online webinar organised by IATEFL’s Business English special interest group on the topic of intercultural communication. IATEFL is the International Association of teaching English as a foreign language and IATEFL has many special interest groups of which Business English is just one. Carl Dowse in Germany was the organiser of this recent webinar and you can see the full recordings on the BESIG webiste at besig.org and they are also on YouTube

absolutely overlooked
We’ll start with an important observation from Baoquan Liu who was talking about how to test intercultural competence in his students when he mentioned something which is often absolutely overlooked…So could YOU describe your own local culture? Baoquan also included an interesting case study at the end of his talk which would be a great starting point for a discussion. You can see the case study on the besig.org website where the recording and slides are available free of charge.

absolutely contractual
For our next segment we are going to go absolutely contractual and find out some of the problems various business people operating across cultures experience with one of the basics of business – the contract. Listen as Evan Frendo, an intercultural trainer, talks about some of the problems he hears about with contracts and why the last thing you want to do is have a lawyer in the room when hammering out the details. 

absolutely problematic
The next speaker in the webinar was Sabrina Gerland, an American based in Germany for the last 30 years, who spoke about the crucial importance of tone and expression. In this segment Sabrina starts by listing the types of real life questions which German business people present her with during her training sessions and then talks about how what you say can also be absolutely problematic even when it is grammatically correct.You can hear more examples of communication going wrong by listening to the whole of Sabrina’s talk on the besig.org page

absolutely mindful
So far we have heard about very specific aspects of intercultural communication in business; be aware of the local culture, what do you understand by the word contract and how can you express disagreement politely. Our next segment, , will bring this all together. Peter Franklin, the final speaker in the Besig webinar, presented results of extensive research into what he calls intercultural interactive competence. He then pulled it all together into an idea called mindfulness… 

absolutely short term
One of the great joys of this webinar was the constant reference to real life, real people and real situations so in our next segment, absolutely short term, we’ll hear why the usuall advice to nurture long term relationships in order to build trust in business may not work. 

absolutely German
And talking of real world problems, I’m going to end the extracts from this webinar with a lovely case study; an incident related by one of Sabrina Gerland’s course participants. I think we have to call this segment absolutely German!

So my thanks to Carl Dowse, the organiser of this wonderful and free webinar, for allowing me to bring you some extracts today.Did you like this taste of an online conference? Do you know of any other relevant upcoming online meetings? Do you have an idea for a show or a segment of a show. Do get in touch if you’ve got something to say about the podcast. And don’t forget that if you catch the show online it is now very easy to do so on your iphone or ipod.

The next show will be coming to you on 1 October from Dr. Laurent Borgmann in Germany.
So long…stay tuned!
The host of this show is: Anne Fox
Editor: Dino Nogarole

1 Response to “absolutely intercultural 122 +++ besig +++ contracts +++ mindfulness +++ longterm relationships +++ pragmatics +++”


  • Ann, this podcast is very informative on how culture may affect how we do business in this day and age of globalization. Owing to the fact that business transactions are conducted via internet across the world, it is absolutely imperative that the players understand the cultures of the people they are interacting with to ensure smooth process during negotiations, contracting, and delivery of services or goods.

    Your discussions brought to light very important points which I found compelling and informative. For example, the notion of understanding one’s own culture which was brought up by the Chinese presenter. A lot of times we engage with people from other culture and we focus on their culture while we barely understand ours, hence disconnect may ensues. In addition, the discussion about understanding how other cultures perceive contract, or disagree (how to use polite language, or what is considered polite in other cultures) is very important. Sabrina brings out a good point when she asserts that tone and expression during communication should be sensitive to the cultures of the people one is dealing with to cultivate mutual respect and successful outcome on the transaction.

    I may add that in certain cultures, mostly found in Africa, time may be a factor. For example, before the introduction of western culture in most African communities, people used the position of the sun to tell time. In fact, up to today it is very common for many Africans to come to a business meeting late and not think anything of it (without any apology) because the notion of time is money is not part of their culture. Hence, when doing business in African, one needs to be flexible and willing to accommodate lateness.

    Thank you for a very informative session.

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