cultural barrier

We all know that when you start your business in a foreign country there is a cultural barrier. This barrier is, by far, the most known one, but in most cases is the most ignored one or at least it is the one that we pay less attention in order to reduce its possible effects.

Whether you are thinking to establish a new subsidiary of your company in another country, whether you are an employer ready to start working in other country, it is highly probable that you leave behind a few issues that you should keep in mind.

No matter if it is your native language

I moved to Chile in 2011, as a Country Manager of a Spanish company, there was an economic boom in the country and it is an Spanish speaker country, so it looked great. I am Spanish, so I did not consider the language as a possible barrier. Big mistake.

It is important that you are aware that all languages have a lot of differences regarding the different geographical zones where it is spoken. Although it might be your native language, you will have to do an effort to adapt to this. The first step will be to understand perfectly the language where you are moving to. Seems obvious, but believe me, it is important to repeat it. It is not the same Spanish that you may speak in Chile, Argentina and Spain. Start by understand perfectly their most common expressions and how is their pronunciation. It is important that you dare to ask what you do not understand, event during a meeting. It will simplify a lot your adaption.

The next step is to analyze those expressions that are spoken in the same way but have completely different meanings. For example, in Argentina I learnt that the hour of maximum traffic is called “hora pico”. A few days later I arrived to a meeting in Santiago de Chile and I said something about the traffic jam and the “hora pico”… You will learn what “pico” means.

Understand and make yourself understood.

Last, try to use local expressions. People will understand you better if you speak their same language. However, please, always do this in a natural way. If you force yourself using an expression… will not look good.

It is very common that people do not want to use local expressions. I believe that is due to some kind of love to their country, just a guess. It is as if they felt they were losing their identity, they do not accept the change. From my point of view, it is a big mistake. You are the one moving to another country, you are the one that must make yourself understood, make that effort. Empathy. I think that, once again, you will be simplifying your meetings. Remember, understand, do not make mistakes and be understood.

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