4 Cross-Cultural Communication Mistakes to Avoid

We are increasingly working in a globalised world with colleagues, clients and suppliers from different countries. According to research from the law firm Baker McKenzie, Chinese companies invested 3.84 billion pounds in the UK in 2018. Furthermore, British companies are increasingly competing with global companies for contracts and employees are working as part of global teams with numerous different nationalities.

Chinese market

Avoid making damaging communication mistakesThis article will explore five cross-cultural mistakes to avoid when working with people from other cultures:

1) Not understanding different communication styles

In different countries people communicate in different ways. For example generally German and Dutch people are very direct in their communication style – what they say is what they mean. On the other hand, Japanese people often communicate in an indirect manner. This means that you will frequently have to read between the lines if you want to understand their meaning.

Furthermore, in some countries simple words such as “yes” can have different meanings. In most western countries when people reply “yes” it usually means they understand what was said and agree to do something. On the other hand, in several Asian cultures when someone uses the word “yes” it simply confirms that someone is listening to you. Someone might say “yes” and then later on say “no”, or you might find out that they didn’t understand what you said.

In this case it is important to double check if the other person understands your point by looking at their facial expressions, asking them to summarise what you said or sending them a summary of what was agreed in writing.

2) Comparing other cultures to your own

Some expatriates working overseas sometimes struggle to get used to different cultural habits. For example, this could be French people kissing on the cheeks in greeting or Japanese bowing. If you keep comparing a different culture with your own in a negative way you might offend people from that culture, and it could lead to conflict. This can affect your ability to build strong relationships.

3) Being negative or critical

 Some people complain a lot about working with clients or colleagues from other cultures. If you are negative about other nationalities or cultures and criticise the way they behave, this will have a very negative impact on your ability to work together.

4) Not adapting to the other culture

 Some expatriates work in other countries but do not adapt at all to the local culture. They live in a compound with other expatriates, they don’t eat the local food and they don’t mix with the local people. These same people often do not adapt their style of communication and way of conducting business, then are surprised when they struggle to be successful.

When working with clients or colleagues from another culture it is important to read up on the cultural differences and common cross-cultural misunderstandings. This could be something as simple as giving and receiving a business card with two hands in China.

Cross-cultural differences are important to consider when working with clients and colleagues from other countries to ensure your staff work efficiently and productively. If you would like to improve the ability of your staff to work more effectively with clients or colleagues from other cultures, read about our Cross-Cultural Communication Training.

Achieving Account Management Excellence

What DO Excellent Account Managers do differently?


There’s account managers who seem to just about do enough in terms of generating profitability. And then there is successful Account Managers who are critical to their business and the customers they serve.

This sounds familiar with account management teams across the responsible for developing account managers….so we’re asking the question….

Just what is it that they do differently?


What behavioural characteristics do they demonstrate that makes them the Account Management supremo?

There are several key traits that make up what an excellent Account Manager does and we thought we would share what we’ve noticed during our experience of working with account management teams.


The great account managers will continually maintain all channels of communication and will often find themselves making dozens of calls in a day.

And it’s not just keeping their key contacts and stakeholders updated and informed as to what’s going on, but also suppliers and project managers. Excellent Account Managers will never fully ‘switch off’, they’re always available and will religiously check email and remain in the loop, even during periods of annual leave.

How do they do this? Simply put, they are masters of communication.

Superior account managers embrace the latest technology. They use multiple platforms to communicate in a versatile way with their client.


They call on their organisational skills and are usually known for their ability to do so. Excellent account managers also can organise on a small or a large scale whether it’s a conference call with several parties, a business meeting or an event and their efficiency at organising these is always noticeable and evident. Their productivity is high and they can always call on the right support for the right customer project.


A great account manager possesses excellent relationship skills. They will constantly strive to develop their personal relationships.

These do not happen overnight and are perfected over time and then used to open and establish what will become a long-lasting relationship. The adage that we’ve all heard goes ‘people buy from people’…. there may be an element of truth to that, however people buy value and quality based on a relationship of trust.

Great account managers take the time to understand their contacts, their business, their motivators, their issues, their headaches and what keeps them awake at night and will work on solutions…..they research tirelessly so they are prepared and never take things for granted. Great account managers care for their customers and will very often go the extra mile to ensure deadlines are met.

Another essential component in relationship building is that recommendations are given for new business opportunities emerge which can benefit the account manager.



Account Managers who are more successful than other account managers  usually manage larger spending accounts and with added responsibility to their customers. They will not be afraid to tell a large spending account that they are potentially not making the right decision, or not selecting the right product or service. They will then present more options and see through to a solution.