The spirit of El Chupacabra has once again raised its ugly head on planet Earth. Some have called it the essence of the “Ugly American,” stereotype. In the last month, I have experienced first hand, an ugly American influenced business process coming back to the
The innovative issue at hand is a partnership with other high-tech companies to deliver intercultural training locally. Many businesses can not offer a fully utilized class of 18 participants, but the training is still necessary. One solution is to offer a course locally and allow other companies to send their employees to the training. This is a win-win situation. Everyone gets the training needed to be successful working internationally and it also opens up networking opportunities and future partnerships in the local community. The challenge is in the communication and ownership. An assumption on the part of a Malaysian (course owner), drove her to shoot down the proposal and send an email to many people (HR directors and other manager peers) stating that she did not know or approve anything. I lost a whole lot of face with my partner at this company. My hurt pride has kept me from responding to the Malaysian course owner’s email, for about two weeks. I know it is the right business decision to work together to offer these courses, but I don’t need this company attending my classes, I am not desperate. I was trying to get a win-win and help everyone develop and enhance relationships. The last thing I expected was to get treated with disrespect from
Next week I will swallow my pride and communicate with the Malaysian counterpart to work out the details. The casualty of this issue is my local contact at the company who was doing me a favor in communicating a great opportunity. I happen to be married to this individual. In addition, my wife, does not desire to be apart of, or be my local contact in the future due to her loss of face with her business network relationships in New Mexico (my wife had nothing to gain by her communication). The Malaysian counterpart has severed the relationship through a communication faux pas to “All,” denying the partnership and approval of a great opportunity in a true Ugly American fashion. This action hurt everyone. My main concern about the issue, is around this trend becoming the future of doing business globally? I sure hope not!
Typically, Americans are known for being a little cut throat and going for the jugular vein (much like the El Chupacabra), looking for a quick resolution, rather than trying to work out differences at the lowest possible level. I have heard business acquaintances say “Americans are very nice people, but they just don’t care.” People make a lot of assumptions when doing business, especially internationally. Here is my top 5 list of virtual team assumptions. Have you made any?
- Assuming that everyone internationally has a computer to use themselves. In
and China , many people often share a computer so access is not always available. In some instances, 17 plus individuals share a computer terminal. India
- Assuming that everyone internationally has a car or transportation to get to work early or to stay late. Many people internationally rely on public transportation that does not allow for staying late or arriving early.
- Assuming individuals have internet service from their home. Americans are blessed or cursed (depending on how you look at life) on the number of early and late meetings you attend. Do you live to work (24 x 7) or work to live (8-5)? Internet connectivity leaves much to be desired in many countries.
- Assuming that silence is a bad thing. When is the last time that you had to translate Japanese into English, think about what was said and come up with an intelligent response? Give your international peer some time to digest what has been said. Silence is golden.
- Assuming that a requested response that is older than 24 hours needs to be escalated to a manager. It is best to resolve issues at the lowest possible level. Build relationships with your international peers don’t go for the jugular vein. Trust is important in doing business internationally.