The Smile Factor and International Business

smile-emoticon-free image 640x640For busy businesspeople, flying off to some foreign country to conduct a deal, the things that are most on their minds are their upcoming meetings, their PowerPoint presentations and, in that zone of the brain that does not forget threats, the soft somber voice of their boss who intoned, “Come back with results.” Their crowded brains have little space for pondering about how they should or should not smile upon landing. Even less room is available for wondering about how they will consciously or unconsciously react to their foreign partner’s smile — or lack of one.

Yet how to interpret a smile when doing business is vital because the difference between smiling or not may be the difference between doing successful business or not. For this reason alone it is crucial to learn about what a smile means in which situation and to which person in which culture.

Many people, for example, those from relationship-oriented regions (such as Asia, the Middle East, Southern Europe, Latin America, parts of the U.S., India, etc.) who live or do business in task-oriented countries (much of Scandinavia and the German speaking lands, for instance) often share a common complaint: “Nobody smiles here!” [Read article here].


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