If you are running a business in UK, especially in London, you are very likely to be working with people from all over the world. Since I am presenting seminars and business chats on cross-cultural communication, I am often asked what the implications are on a business. I have already presented some aspects of it in the perspective of off-shore development. I shall now consider the angle of business in general. So, in short, what if you are working with colleagues, partners, providers who are from another country?

Maybe I will start by answering something I already hear coming in your mind: “that surely won’t apply to me since I’ve been working in UK for XX years.” Well, I am far from convinced it is the case. If you are yourself a foreigner in the workplace you live in, at best you are adapted and work on adaptation mode without knowing, but deep inside there are elements of yourself that probably remain what you were educated as.

Before going further I will quickly recap what culture is about in the context of this article. I am using the definition given by Gert Jan Hofstede: Culture is the unwritten book with rules of the social game that is passed on to newcomers by its members, nesting itself in their minds. In other words, it is the sum of all the rules you have learned when you were a kid without necessary knowing you were learning them. They were just “the way to do things”. There are several depths in what makes culture. If we think of it as an onion with layers, in the outskirt we would have the Symbols made of Words, Gestures, Pictures, and Objects [...]