Cross-cultural insensitivity can blow your biggest deal away…

Many of you will have territories or clients that span different countries and cultures and will be working in multicultural workplaces. Having a global mindset and increasing your cultural awareness will be key to leading effectively in this environment.  If this sounds like you then this section is for you.

STORY: (Changed name for privacy)

We were pitching to a major global hotel chain in Singapore with one of our C level executives. He told me before the meeting to leave it to him as he was an “Asia Expert” so I  assumed we were in good hands.

We entered the boardroom. He takes his jacket off – sweat marks the size of dinner plates. He sits at the top of the boardroom table and starts dealing his business cards across the table to our Singaporean clients. I could see all the faces of these hotel executives shut down in horror momentarily before forcing a smile.

They sat politely through our presentation.

We didn’t win their business.

Was it because John dealt his business cards out LIKE A LAS VEGAS CROUPIER rather than handing them out personally and with respect or was it some other reason?

We’ll probably never know.


– What I do know is that when you respect the cultural sensitivities of the country you are in you increase your chances of earning respect, building relationships and ultimately placing yourself in a position to win.

– Check in with your colleagues to see who may be the real expert on the particular topic at hand and leverage their knowledge for the good of the team. Its ok not to be the smartest guy in the room.

A little antiperspirant wouldn’t go astray either.

Photo credit @anniespratt

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