My first small business meeting within a country where English was not the native tongue was in Germany. I was terribly nervous. I didn’t know German, and nobody was with me that could speak it. I fell all over myself trying to make apologies for speaking in English and not knowing their language.
They brushed it off as no large deal. It turns out that English is widely accepted in Germany as the language of business and most Germans are taught it as a second language all through their early college years.
So started my journey into the new planet of international enterprise travel. I created many errors along the way, but eventually I was in a position to create these trips and hold organization meetings routinely with no all of the drama. I’ll spare you the learning curve and share these international company travel Dos and Don’ts with you:
Do use the buddy system. It’s very important to have someone with you when you travel internationally. Making your way in an unfamiliar country can be bewildering and is more work than you realize. It usually takes two sets of eyes and ears to do things that you would normally do on autopilot when you’re at home.
Do uncover local aid. For those who can have somebody meet you in the airport, get you settled at the hotel, enable you to with logistics, and join you for the meetings, then never pass up the opportunity. It simplifies factors significantly. As well as although English would be the language of enterprise, never take it for granted. You will discover important points which will be missed within a meeting simply because it’s too challenging for your hosts to assume with the right words to say in English. A helper who knows the language will choose up on this nuance and take the time for you to get all the things around the table and be sure you have an understanding of.
Do speak slowly. You need to slow it down and pause frequently so that your hosts have time to translate in their heads. This way of speaking will feel unnatural, but if you don’t do it they will either stop you repeatedly so that they can catch up, or they’ll give up altogether and tune you out.
Never cram an excessive amount of into a meeting agenda. You have to reduce your expectations in half a minimum of. It takes twice as extended to exchange ideas when there are actually translations going on.
Don’t be an ugly American. Keep the mindset at all times that you are a guest and that their time and company is a gift to you. Try to learn a few phrases of their language for little things like, “thank you”, “pleased to meet you”, “good morning”, and “good bye”. Show an interest in their culture and history, and be respectful of their traditions and past. Do be prepared for culture shock. Total immersion in another culture will take it’s toll on you. Between this and the jet lag your mental energy will run out and you will crash hard the first couple nights. Don’t be surprised if you are dying for a cheeseburger and all you want to do at night is hide in your room. But resist these urges and get out and see the world. Your chances to do this are few and far between, and the memories will last you a lifetime.