Tag Archives: Communication

How different cultures handle time

Categories: Management, Of Interest | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

This entry is a little hard for me to write because my personal experience differs completely with what the textbooks say about cultures.

Who is fast & who is slow?
When Americans go to France, they complain that the French are so slow. When Indians deal with the French, they complain that French are so rigid about deadlines. So, which is which? The answer is that sensitivity to time and deadlines is cultural, and it is relevant. Additionally, individuals in particular cultures handle time restraints very differently from others in that same culture which adds another layer of complexity.

Mapping different cultures
While perusing Harvard Business Review’s blog, I came across an article about mapping different cultures. Instead of having a geographical map showing where particular countries are, you have a cultural map showing where cultures are relative to other cultures in particular respects. This was very interesting to me.

Factors in culture mapping
The factors that were considered in management culture included sensitivity to deadlines, how specific you were in communication, how directly you voiced negative feedback, how hierachical society is, how people avoid confrontation, and other factors as well. This particular article is focusing more on how various cultures handle time sensitivity.

If I drew my own map for time sensitivity it would look like this:
Korea; Japan; Germany; Switzerland; Scandinavia; US; Canada; China; France; Italy; Russia; Arabia; Latin America; Southeast Asia; India; Pakistan; Subsaharan Africa.

Koreans just can’t wait.
Koreans in my experience are the most impatient people who exist. There have been studies on Koreans that show particular traits of impatience. It is common for Koreans to hover next to the microwave when making instant noodles counting every second in the count down as if they are watching the space shuttle awaiting for take off. I remember having massage from a Korean grandmother. After the massage was over, she always wanted to barge in with a few dixie cups of water before I had my clothes on. I asked if she could wait 20 seconds, but I was asking too much. In other cultures, they might keep me waiting seven minutes for my water until I got the water myself. And if they microwaved soup in a slower culture, and get into a conversation, and it might be cold by the time it reaches you.

The culture map that I referenced did not have any data on Arabs, or Thais as it only examined six interesting and diverse cultures in so many ways. I wish it had more like two dozen cultures to be more thorough.

My problem with Indians
After looking at all of the differences between cultures, I begin to realize what my problem with Indians is — they have a strict hierarchy. I don’t mind following authority providing they are doing what they are doing what they are supposed to. But, what if they are being hypocrites, causing dysfunction and chaos? I can’t keep my mouth shut under those situations, yet Indians require that I do — hence a huge clash. On a brighter note, I am very relationship oriented like Indians, and value holistic thinking like the Japanese. Overall, I am not really clashing with other cultures any more than I clash with my own.

My experience with faster cultures
America is not one of the faster countries on the list, but overall is faster than average. I find that when I assign work to Americans, there is never any rush to get the work done. It is like living in a very expensive third world country where abandoned construction projects leave a pile of bricks for four months by the side of the road — except that I am in e-business and have the cyber equivalent of what I just described. In my business experience, Americans are not fast to get work done. In fact, I have found that Indians in the IT industry are a little faster than the average Americans in IT. I have also found that Indians like to map projects out point by point and typically won’t get started unless every minute detail is spelled out. Although oral communication with Indians is generally bad, and workmanship is not as tidy as in the US, they tend to get more work done more quickly and with less drama.

Intra-cultural diversity: what does that mean?
Additionally, Arabs have a reputation of never being on time. Sure, they are shrewd in business and impatient, but try getting them to show up for your business meeting at 3pm — they’ll show up at 5 or 6pm if you’re lucky. But, I also know Arabs who are always on time and get tons of work done very quickly. Cultural maps don’t take into consider intra-cultural diversity: the diversity among members of the same culture. Many cultures have huge gaps in the attitudes and behaviors of their members. There is some truth to the idea of the politically correct that “you can’t generalize.” Although, I will say that with Japanese, I’m not sure if there are any slow ones. I think that the samurai killed off all the slow ones a few generations ago leaving a condition that I call: survival of the fastest!

You might also like:

A tool that maps cultural differences

Do you know how to communicate what is better about your company?

Categories: Marketing | Tagged , | Leave a comment

I wrote another blog entry regarding what is better about your company. This entry is similar in nature, but focuses more on the communication aspect. If you already know what is better about your company (most people don’t,) mastering communicating those facts in a graceful and convincing way is paramount.

Most of us are not salespeople. I am very awkward in sales. I am slightly better if I am selling a product that I sell a lot of. Normally, people want to buy listings from me. They ask why they should spend more on a listing, and will that help them get ahead. I tell them that many people who pay more for high placed listings do very well, but that there are multiple factors involved and I don’t want to make promises that I can’t guarantee. As you can see, I am very reluctant to make claims. My information is more statistical rather than a sales pitch. Fortunately, my reputation for delivering jobs to people via my directories speaks for itself, so I don’t have to do the bragging myself! I tell them that the customers who have high placement and do everything else according to my recommendations typically do very well, although a few who are unlucky don’t. It is worth the risk since 90% of the ones who do everything well, get enough jobs to pay for their investment. The odds are very much in your favor. But, enough about me!

You need to practice communicating. Interacting with clients is an art. If you don’t practice, you will not be smooth at it. When you interact with clients, take notes on what you did well, and what you need to work on. Fortunately for me, I do only 10% of the sales for my company. I have someone who is a natural saleswoman do the rest of the selling. She is not afraid to make claims and tell stories of people who got rich from doing business with us.

Obviously you need to have a memorized list of things that make your company better. When clients ask about your company, you need to talk about each attribute or aspect of how you are better. But, don’t stop there. See if they have objections or what they say. They might want to question you, or argue with you about something. Are you smooth at handling yourself in a difficult situation? You need to be in sales. You need to understand how the other person feels, and try to find a way to make them more comfortable without telling them a bunch of nonsense. Let’s do an example

Vikas: Hi, this is Vikas from VKS Web Design
Fred: Hi,this is Fred. I need to hire a Web Design company.
Vikas: We specialize in all aspects of Web Design. We are also very specialized in flash design.
Fred: I don’t like flash design, and the last guys I dealt with tried to sell me on some flash design.
Vikas: Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. Would it make you feel better if you meet our designers face to face and have them show you their work?
Fred: Hmm, that would be very nice. Instead of a sales pitch, I get to see the real deal!
Vikas: Exactly, and if you don’t want to have flash work done, we can accommodate you in any way you like. We cater to those at any budget.
Fred: I am liking this more and more. I get to have it my way, and you’ll be nice about it!
Vikas: Yes, that is how we like to do it. If you are happy, then we are happy.

See how nice Vikas was. He didn’t try to twist a stranger’s arm into signing a contract. He was just nice, helpful, and dealt with objections in a very kindhearted and smooth way.

In any case, make it an art form how you deal with prospects. If you do a good job, that can change your life. Remember, getting clients is no good if you lose them. But, if you can get them, and keep them, then you can become a large company and be rich!

Outsourcing 101 Course Outline

Categories: Outsource Marketing | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

For a long time, I wanted to create a course for outsourcing companies. Rather than try to sell them something that they won’t want to buy, why not offer something for free. Then, if they get a passing score on my free test, they can go to the next level. I haven’t written the course yet, but will be doing so hopefully over the next several months.

The contents of this course will be:

(1) Communication
Answering the phone
Interacting with prospects
Getting back to people

(2) Double checking your work
Hiring people who can double check work
Training employees to double check their own work

(3) Meeting deadlines
Planning for deadlines: allocating labor resources
Managing deadlines and changing the course of scheduling

(4) Hiring
Selecting, assessing and training new workers

(5) Management structures
Having the right middle management to be able to handle interacting with your clients, and managing the workers to ensure seamless work.

(6) Having a good website
Good artwork, clear navigation, and substantial information are what is necessary.

(7) Marketing
Understanding the multiple channels in which you can promote yourself.
Social Media
Lead Generation Specialists

(8) Foreign offices and phone numbers
Is it better to have a sales staff in the country where the client is?
Or is it better to have an American number that rings wherever you are?
Either way you need to answer your phone during American business hours.

(9) Small talk
Prospecting clients is a real skill. Mastering the art of small talk is a huge topic that Indians understand in their social life, but typically avoid in business.