When your business or work ends up becoming international, there’s a chance that you’ll be invited to go to other countries for it. But you may have heard about people committing the wrong kind of cultural appropriation, and you don’t want to do that. How do you avoid it, you ask? The following are some hints for you to succeed in blending into the local culture.
Watch What You Wear
One of the more obvious ways in which you can commit a faux pas is with your clothing. It’s generally best to err on the side of caution and dress more conservatively. For example, if you’re into purchasing fine bracelets for sale online and wearing a lot of them everywhere, you might want to stick to a few essential pieces instead. Of course, if you have a chance to, ask for the dress code. Your business partners will most likely take it as a sign that you want to respect their culture than the other way around.
Let Locals Lead
In general, since you’re not in your home country, it’s best to let your foreign business partners take the lead when it comes to participating in activities. It saves you from committing too many mistakes, and stepping back to observe is also a great way to learn. If they ask you to do something, then you can feel free to. If there’s something that you want to try instead, you can always ask if you can. There is nothing wrong with asking for clarification.
Do What They Do
Other than passively observing, it’s also good to learn about other people’s cultures by doing what the locals do. That is especially effective if you’re a person who absorbs information best by doing. Try to mirror your business contacts’ actions, if possible, and get a feel for how they do it. If you’re having problems, again, you should feel free to ask.
Be Your Best Self
Some people go overboard with fitting in that they forget that they’re still an individual and that they’re still foreigners in the country. It’s good to be considerate, yes, but you might as well relax, as you’re mostly a visitor. If anything, people make mistakes all the time, and your business partners are people as well. And add to that the fact that they should be the ones extending their hospitality to you, not the other way around. It’s a good idea to be polite in the best way that you know how, and let the others correct you if necessary.
In general, you can avoid and save yourself from committing a faux pas by being open and learning more about the culture that you’re going to immerse yourself in. Take the time to research beforehand, and don’t be afraid to ask the locals about any local custom or item that’s unfamiliar to you. It’s always better to try to know rather than assume something. Most importantly, be honest about what you do and don’t understand.