Culture is one of the most important aspects of doing business. Yet when companies merge or people try to establish a business in a foreign country, they often give very little thought to culture, which usually turns out to be the biggest problem afterwards.

In high context cultures, such as Africa, Asia and Latin America, implicit communication and nonverbal cues are of the utmost importance. Relationships build slowly and rely on trust. Change is slow. Space is communal. Hierarchy and power are revered.

In low context cultures, such as Europe, UK and America, explicit communication is the cornerstone of all interactions. Relationships begin and end quickly. Productivity depends on procedures. Privacy is important. Nonverbal elements are not significant and challenging the boss is the norm.

Every country has cultural norms that are, well normal, to those who live there! To outsiders who want to do business in that country, navigating these cultural norms can be a minefield.

Our advice to anyone wanting to establish business relations abroad, is to gain deep knowledge about the culture and its people before entering the market. Look at their history, literature and philosophy. Most importantly, identify the gaps in your understanding and identify when you are making assumptions. Then you must work to address these if you truly want to succeed.