Arabic people are genuine, honest and very welcoming. Treated with respect in their own language you will win not only superb business partners, but very welcome friends.
In recent years, the Middle East has exploded as a business destination. The growth of cities such as Dubai and Doha has made them hubs for international travellers, and with this, the cities have become central points for doing business. Doing business in the Middle East is not too challenging, and Arab countries are extremely open to doing international business. Having an understanding of business etiquette and a grasp of the Arabic language can and will make a tremendous difference to doing business in the region.
For thousands of years the Middle East has been a trading hub. It has been on trade routes for gems, spices and in times gone by, slaves as far back as man can remember. The Arab world is extremely civilised and appreciation of this with simple good manners, hellos and goodbyes makes all the difference.
Calendar and Weekends. One of the biggest mistakes newcomers to the Arab world make is the working week. Only 3 countries, Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia work what the western world call a working week. All other countries use Friday and Saturday as their weekend. Don’t head into the Middle East hoping to get a meeting on a Friday as chances are it won’t happen. Secondly, there is an overlap in calendars used, while Arab countries tend to use the Gregorian calendar for business and many other activities, the Islamic Lunar Calendar is an influence when it comes to religious activity. Familiarising oneself with the likes of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha for example will be tremendously beneficial.
Arabs and language. As with most nations, Arabs are extremely proud of their language. Even the most basic understanding of the Arabic language can be helpful, but a more fluent understanding will demonstrate deep respect among those one is doing business with. Very often there are almost formal or expected greetings and responses such as As-salaam alaykum when initially meeting, being traditionally followed by Wa alaykum as-salaam.
Like most languages, Arabic has a formal and informal form. Having a good grasp of the language will lower barriers between parties fairly quickly, once it is known you speak Arabic. Very often you will be politely asked to be less formal. However, should a person senior to your guest enter the meeting, conversation may revert to formal out of respect, should the person be unfamiliar.
A control of the Arabic language will grow ones understanding of the people and culture. A deep respect for Allah is prominent, and this may take some getting used to, but politeness and gentleness will make things easier. With the understanding of the Arabic language and culture settling in to the ways of the region will become less difficult.
Time and hard bargains. Time, it seems, in the Arab world, moves at a slower pace. It would not be unusual for a meeting to begin an hour or an hour and half late, there is no rush. Interruptions to meetings will not be uncommon, and meetings may extend a great deal longer than planned. Arabs are, and always have been traders. They have all the time in the world to get the deal they want. It may be a little uncomfortable, and you may feel a little pressured to negotiate, so don’t say you have not been warned. Having an understanding of Arabic will make negotiations easier and may result on more favourable terms. The value of speaking Arabic will pay off for anyone doing business in the Middle East, and once a deal has been struck strong bonds will remain.
Arabic people are genuine, honest and very welcoming. Treated with respect in their own language you will win not only superb business partners, but very welcome friends.
How many of us envy those people who grew up or are growing up in bi or multilingual homes? Having the ability to switch and swap languages like changing channels on a TV makes some people green with envy or just smile at the sheer brilliance of it. Speaking a second, third, fourth or any number of other languages is to some people like some kind of magic and they wish they could do the same. For any number of reasons, people get the idea into their head that they will never speak another language, or believe that if they do, they will never use it. How wrong these people are.
Learning another language is more challenging for older people, it is a fact. Young developing brains soak up information and languages like a sponge and those who may seem like gifted children are merely using their brain as nature designed it. However, as an adult the brain still absorbs and retains information, and a language can be picked up with some ease albeit a little slower than a child. Don’t let age stop you from learning another language.
If you can learn a language, don’t then convince yourself that you will never use it. A second language is a wonderful thing to have. Speaking another language makes you more marketable as an asset in the career world and opens up new avenues of travel and adventure in your personal world. Knowing this should incentivise you to begin learning another language.
Language is still one of the most valuable assets a person can have. Pitching one accountant or salesman next to another, each with the same ability but with one being able to speak Italian for example, makes a difference. Job opportunities for people that speak another language increase and value to a prospective employee increases. Salaries are higher for roles where language or time in a foreign country is required and the extra income should be a wakeup call, especially in these tough times we face today.
The business use of a language is undeniably an asset, and companies that have native language speakers gain respect faster and business deals are signed that bit easier. The simple fact that someone speaks the language lifts the levels of respect considerably and no matter what anyone says, respect is still and always will be why business is done between people.
However, it is not just business where language is an asset. Travel and vacations with a language become more exciting and more of an adventure. A language will take you off the beaten track and away from the flocks of sheep-like tourists. The real country can be visited, speaking French can take you to where the French enjoy their vacations and the same is true with any language in any country.
A language will allow you to not just communicate and get directions but to blend in when away on your travels. Strangers, made stranger by not speaking English, can become lifelong friends and life becomes a great deal richer and fuller just by having control of a language.
Learning a language is all part of the fun, and once learnt, using it is more exciting than many people will dare to imagine. Once you have mastered a language, those people you once envied or admired, will not be seen the same again, you will be part of a special and wonderful group of people who can converse beyond your mother tongue. Contact VLLC if you would like to increase your employability by learning a new language.
Every country has its 'do’s', 'don'ts' and 'what on earth is that for’s' when it comes to business. Italy is no different and understanding basic Italian Business Etiquette, with a knowledge of the Italian language, can make life easier. Business success in any country is often only a signature away from understanding or appreciating some of the basics. Here is a little insight into some Italian Business Etiquette
Setting up a business meeting. Getting a meeting is one thing, making it count it is another altogether. With many Italian companies, especially ones you are new to, it is mandatory to make an appointment about 3 weeks in advance. This appointment should preferably be in Italian verbally, to ascertain the best time to meet, and in written Italian to confirm. Speaking Italian is vital and it makes learning Italian something any serious businessperson should really consider.
Pre-Meeting. Planning is essential and ensuring you have copies of all relevant documentation and presentations in both Italian and your language. This ensures all parties understand what is being presented and that there is no misinterpretation.
The meeting. Italians are very vocal, and interruptions to someone speaking are normal. Do not be surprised to find the entire room speaking at the same time. Understanding Italian will allow you to not only understand the multiple conversations, but also take control or make reference. Use last names and title until you are formally introduced and requested to speak on first name terms. Married women in business in Italy generally work with their maiden name.
Post meeting. Do not expect an answer to anything in your first meeting. Meetings are considered a discussion forum in Italy, and not so much a decision making moment. Italians take their time to come to a decision; with you being able to speak Italian, the chances of you getting business over someone who cannot are more favourable.
Read the cards. No, this is not some sort of psychic trick to get business but a sign of respect. Business cards are exchanged in most formal meetings and it is polite to take a moment, read the card and make eye contact with the person you received a card from. This simple gesture can set a positive tone for the meeting ahead. Another simple piece of advice is to have business cards translated into Italian.
Dress for success. Italy is a country where fashion, style and looking smart mean a lot. Make the effort to polish your shoes, press your shirt and if you don’t buy a new suit, at the very least ,have it dry cleaned. A formal and smart look makes a massive first impression for first meetings, and it will show you have made an effort and shows respect.
Doing business in Italy is about taking things slow, doing things with intent, and looking smart. As with most countries, politeness goes a long way. Above all, speaking Italian makes a favourable and lasting impression, and is one of the best ways to secure business in Italy.
Working overseas is what many people dream of. It is more than just the work, it is the travel, the adventure, the challenge and for many the chance to earn more money. But how can you improve your chances of getting a job overseas? There are a number of ways to improve your chances of working overseas. There is also one sure thing that will put you in the running more than others.
Get the facts: The first thing to do is get as much information as you can about the country, city or company you wish to work for overseas. If you are already employed in the company and are eyeing an overseas position having as much information as possible about the country and city is still vitally important. By having the information you will be well equipped to answer any questions that may arise. Being able to answer the question “why do you want to work in this country?” with facts and something that will show are taking it seriously will help you.
Network: There is a very good chance that you know someone working overseas in the country you wish to work in. Using social media reach out and start asking questions. Let people in the places you want to work know that you are looking and keep in touch. This way when a job does come up you will spring to mind.
Know the industry or job well: Knowing the industry you are working in or wish to work well will often increase your chances of a getting a job overseas. Many big companies employ many foreign nationals in many countries; there is something to be said for a diversity of cultures. However, knowing the industry or the role you wish to work in well will make you stand out from others. Overseas work is highly competitive and not all roles are equal, normal job hunting rules do not apply.
The one sure thing? Language. Language. Language
The word language has been repeated three times for a reason. Speaking the language, showing you have taken or are taking the time to learn another language is the number one way to improve your chances of getting an overseas job. You may be Australian, have great friends in France and be a great systems architect but if you cannot speak French then you stand less of chance of getting that job in the Paris office over the person who speaks French. Even someone learning French has a better chance.
A job overseas is not just about doing the work and hoping those you work with speak your language, primarily English. An overseas Job means living in the country and conversing with locals of which a large number may not speak your language. By speaking the language, you automatically become a better fit for job, having taken the time to learn you have shown determination and dedication to further yourself and many employers are looking for this. Speaking French, German, Polish or any other language automatically opens up, and yes maybe improves, your chances of getting that dream job overseas. With a language, you become valuable; companies are looking for you rather than you looking for them.
In short, if you want to leapfrog yourself into a job overseas go and learn a new language. You will not regret it.
In South East Asia’s Indochina peninsula lays the country of Thailand, formerly the Siam so well portrayed in the musical The King and I. For many,
Thailand is known for its wonderful food made with fragrant spices creating a flavour that is uniquely Thai and for vacations, massages and honeymoons. With images of practicing yoga in peaceful lush surroundings with a statue of Buddha in the background, Thailand is a place that many people have on their bucket list.
But Thailand is not just great food and vacations, and with a population rapidly approaching 70 million, Thailand is a country open for business. Over the last decade, doing business in and with Thailand has been made a great deal easier having implemented a number of reforms that have benefited entrepreneurs and seen new businesses grow. These benefits have seen regulatory hurdles fall and a greater integration and use of technology such as electronic documentation being accepted as business standards.
Thailand is most certainly open for business and whilst to the outsider Thailand would seem to be primarily a country that thrives on tourism, and tourism does play a huge part, it should be noted that more than 50% of the population are employed in the agricultural sector that accounts for less than 10% of the GDP of Thailand. Industry in Thailand has grown on the back of the large numbers employed in agriculture and whilst directly it only accounts for 10% of the GDP it indirectly influences the rest of the economy.
But what about doing business in Thailand on the ground? With the growth in entrepreneurial business, one can expect to be dealing with a new generation of business owner or manager, many will speak English especially those who are determined to break into international markets but, and again, this goes back in a way to the large number employed in agriculture, being able to speak the local language, Thai, is essential for trade to really begin.
Thailand’s tourism sector has grown, and in this industry, English is almost a must, but for those areas less touched by tourism that want the same success, often rural or remote areas that are stunningly beautiful, language becomes the barrier. Even an executive who has Thai speaking guides or staff may feel a little excluded from the dealings and conversation without even the smallest amount of spoken Thai.
The Thai language is a powerful tool for any business or person looking to trade beyond the stereotypical Thailand of Buddha's and Massages that are a little more outside Phuket and Bangkok. Speaking the language breaks down barriers and further opens up opportunities the country has created. Even in the boardrooms of Bangkok, speaking Thai makes an impact, it shows respect, and if you have the wherewithal to learn the language you will be seen as a person worth doing business with.
Thailand is sneakily making its way up the ranks of countries that are easy to deal with and learning the language may just get you in to a growth market sooner than the rest. With the language you can have the pleasure of doing business in Thailand and enjoy the pleasure that Thailand is renowned for.
Since the end of World War II when two atomic bombs changed Japan forever, the nation has fought to become the nation it is today. Japan is a nation that had two choices after the bombs were dropped, to die or prosper. Prosperity was chosen and ever since then the nation has been a leading innovator in engineering and technology making Japan a top country to do business with.
Innovation persists in Japan; miniaturising and automating processes have been the hallmark of Japanese industry and for outsiders to get in on the leading edge today one needs to have an advantage. One advantage that few consider, primarily because many Japanese people speak English is language. Language in any culture opens up doors, breaks down barriers and deepens respect and in Japan, respect especially is something of great importance.
Mastering the bow is a start when doing business in Japan, as is handing and grasping a business card with two hands. To the Japanese a Business card is an extension of the person referred to as Meishi. However, getting beyond this and further than Konnichiwa or Sayonara is the biggest challenge for many aspiring business people looking to do business in Japan. Relying on a translator is uncomfortable and awkward, emotion is lost and to be honest one doesn’t really know if the translation is truthful or exact. Translators also cost money and when some face time is required with your potential Japanese customer or partner, the translator is like a third wheel on a date.
Speaking Japanese automatically removes the third wheel and business relationships can grow deeper and stronger quickly. Even when making a few errors in Japanese your errors will very likely be forgiven because you are attempting what few actually do. Speaking Japanese shows respect and lifts levels of trust very quickly and when getting to the front of the queue to do business with a new product or partner with a progressive company you are leapfrogged to the front. Language in any country gives anyone an advantage, being able to converse and even make small talk or chuckle at a joke breaks down barriers fast. Not that Japanese business meetings are big on small talk but having a conversation with the receptionist or striking up a conversation with a general employee can prove useful.
Speaking Japanese gives you and your business a unique advantage when doing business in Japan. Not only does command of the language help in business meetings is also makes socialising with your customer, partner or supplier easier and just like every country in the world most business in Japan is not done in the board room. Speaking Japanese makes a round of golf much easier and conversation on any golf course is well known to be the conversation that closes the deal.
Japan is a country steeped in tradition and culture, and ensuring business etiquette is met in Japan in line with the traditions and culture is often the biggest fear for any person doing business with the Japanese. A great deal of the etiquette is common decency and politeness, but having some knowledge of what should or should not be done in a meeting, goes a very long way.
Perhaps the most common of all known elements of Japanese business culture, is the bow. It is common courtesy. Some people would say that it is better not to bow at all than to bow badly, but, the Japanese are very forgiving. If it is your first time doing business in Japan I am sure you will be respected. In communication prior any meeting, it is well worth while indicating this so when you do bow your client or host will understand and respect the fact that you are nonetheless aware of custom and are at least trying to conform. Do not offer a handshake immediately on a first time meeting and rather wait for the handshake to be offered to you, most people will offer one.
Another curious point about doing business in Japan is the seating. If your host is seated, do not wait to be asked to sit, it is considered polite to sit with your host. If none of your hosts are seated, do not break the ice and be the first, there is a certain hierarchy that is followed, the host or more senior of your hosts must sit first and then others will follow.
Much of the culture around business is common sense. Don’t rush and take your time, and with everything, being conservative is recommended. Don’t be brash, forceful or demanding as this can be disrespectful, and never dress in flash clothes or use expensive pens to make you look good, better or wealthier. Just be yourself. The Japanese are not easily impressed by money and showing off. And a little secret, only ever sign in blue or black ink unless instructed to do so otherwise.
Once you have settled in with your host or client, you will need to make conversation. Many Japanese businessmen speak very good English, but, speaking Japanese, even just a few phrases can make a tremendous impact on the person you are with.
Having an understanding of culture and etiquette is one thing but being able to converse in Japanese is something entirely different.
The Japanese language may seem a challenging language to learn but in actual fact it is not, English as a second language is by far the most complex and your Japanese counterpart is having to or has had to work a great deal harder to learn English than you have Japanese. Speaking the language creates trust and confidence. Your host will tell you things he or she would not it they were speaking another language with which they struggled, merely because they do not know how, or how to say it correctly. So much can be lost in translation but taking the time to learn the language and just do a little bit of research into doing business in Japan goes a very long way.
So, you have got the chance to live and work in a foreign country. You are excited and perhaps a little apprehensive and it is perfectly understandable. What are some of the challenges of living and working in a foreign country? Below are some areas to consider before you go.
Housing. Many Australians are used to high quality houses of a certain size, with certain appliances. Finding a good place to stay is often one of the first challenges to overcome. It is all well and good staying in a guesthouse for a short period of time, but for a longer or more permanent stay, your self-contained housing is a must. Finding property in the right area and getting used to the local quirks are some of the challenges that must be overcome. There are plenty of nightmare stories and many fantastic stories, and taking time and getting plenty of advice before heading off, make things easier.
Rules. One of the challenges that many Australians and other people have to overcome when relocating overseas, is that of paperwork and regulations. Some countries have transparent and straightforward process and others do not. Getting ID cards, opening bank accounts and even registering for tax, are often hurdles that must be crossed.
Weather. Don’t expect the weather to be the same as you left behind in Australia. If you are heading to a country, and have only seen holiday snaps or scenic pictures, be prepared to not get that weather all the time. For Australians who are used to warmer climates, adjusting to Europe, especially Northern Europe can be a challenge. But this is all part of the adventure, isn't it?
Social. Socialising and getting to meet people is somewhere high on the list of challenges facing Australians who are heading overseas to start a new life or spend a considerable length of time away from home. Of course meeting local ex-pats is helpful but meeting locals is where the challenge lies. Knowing the places where the locals hang out and how to fit in is something that is not easy.
Family. The biggest challenge for most is missing family and friends back home. It is to be expected, and at first it can be difficult. As time passes by, it becomes easier as new friends are made and life settles down to a new normal.
These 5 things are all usual considerations for relocation, but there is a way to overcome them all with added ease. To address all of the above, apart from the weather of course, the easiest way to settle in and get things sorted is to be able to speak the local language. Having a grasp of the language really does make a difference. Finding a place to stay would be easier as you can ask the locals for their opinions, make enquiries and understand the process much more easily. The same would be true for all the rules and regulations. Socialising becomes a breeze and once you have friends you will find yourself comfortably relocated and ready for your new adventure.
China is booming, it has been for a number of years, and like a small dragon born from an egg, she has now grown, become something remarkable, feared by some and embraced by others. No matter how this dragon is seen, China is a place where business people see some kind of future, some success and continuity or expansion of existing business.
One thing that is for certain with China, is that it has become a place where gaining an advantage, getting in first, or having a shot at trading with a partner in a particular province in a particular field has become more of a challenge. Being the best at what you do and even having the most money is no assurance of doing business, China and Chinese Business have become wary of business and the dragon has become wise.
For the astute, or progressive businessman, there is a way to not so outwit the wizening dragon that China has become, but work with it and become better acquainted. This way is through speaking Chinese and thus being able communicate in their own tongue. It is not that the dragon doesn’t trust those who cannot speak its language, but has more to do with respect, trust and a willingness to work that bit harder for what will inevitably be gain.
A businessman or company who has staff that have taken the time to learn Chinese means that this company is taking China seriously and the dragon commands respect. This Chinese Dragon that we call industry has learnt to respect serious intent over money and even over being number one, that is very often the same one who will throw most money at a deal. The overseas company will be dealing with their Chinese counterparts and while in a growing number of cases these counterparts will speak English and a variety of other languages, speaking in their native tongue will nonetheless instil a level of trust that will go a long way in sweetening the deal or transaction.
Doing business in Chinese and even bilingually reduces the chance of things being lost in translation as this can prove costly. Having an understanding of, and a willingness to learn the language, will ultimately sustain the business transaction and while in the past, the quick buck for a quick win, was seen as good business the wiser and older dragon now understands the error of this.
But it goes further than the board room table and business in China. As is evident in the rest of the world, China does have a social and family element to it. Speaking Chinese opens up social, recreational and those more interpersonal elements of doing business in China. Speaking Chinese makes a person who was once merely a business associate who seemed to care only about his own profits a person of trust who can be introduced to families and be invited to social gatherings. Long term relationships can be formed that provide a solid foundation for doing better business going forward and this all starts with language and a willingness to learn.
China may have become a feared and even fearless dragon, but by speaking the same language as the dragon, means in many ways it can be tamed, and mutual success over an extended period of time can be assured.
So what’s the magic formula to making sure you ace your interview and conveying that you are, in fact, the best person for the job? While there is no one clear answer, we’re betting you that learning a second language will get you there faster. Let’s take a look back at those three important traits that we discussed earlier and how being bilingual (or multilingual!) can help with each and every one of them. Here’s how:
1. The ability to work collaboratively on a team — Learning a new language will increase your level of empathy with others. You’ll learn important differences between various communication and learning styles—the key to working effectively with others or managing any team.
2. The ability to communicate clearly and effectively — Of course, communication is key when learning a new language. You’ll learn important differences between languages and cultural nuances that may only exist in another language but not English. Being bilingual will teach you how to think more creatively about multiple ways to get your main idea across to different audiences.
3. The ability to obtain, process, information and to create ideas — Learning a second language will actually enhance information processing in the brain. We’re serious. Studies show that brains in bilingual individuals have more grey matter than those in monolingual individuals. Grey matter is a major part of your Central Nervous System, which plays a key role in information processing. Additionally, we live in an increasingly globalised age, with an influx of language and cultures infiltrating all major cities. “Knowing multiple languages is important in the professional world for the purpose of international business, cultural understanding, and building good will with a diversity of partners and customers.”
Fluency in more languages, now more than ever, is considered extremely important by many employers. CNN Money has deemed fluency in a foreign language “the hottest job skill” 3. Also, according to them, 25,000 jobs are expected to open up for interpreters and translators between 2010 and 2020.
Getting fluent in another language of course, in addition to helping fast-track your career, fluency in another language comes with some pretty obvious perks. Just picture yourself working remotely, while sunbathing on the Costa del Sol in Spain, or ordering off the menu in Italian and your accent being on point.
And, you know, adding it to your resume and impressing your future employers at an interview doesn’t hurt either. Knowing more than one language will increase the likelihood of getting hired by sharpening the skills that all employers look for, while also opening up many professional opportunities, whether they’re in the states or abroad.
1. “The 10 Skills Employers Most Want In 2015 Graduates.” Forbes.
2. “41 of Google’s Toughest Interview Questions.” Inc.
3. “The Hottest Job Skill Is…” CNN Money.
These blogs are about learning a foreign language and utilising that skill to forward your professional path.