5 tips on how to do business with the British
How can you know the dance if you don’t know the steps?
Dealing with any country in business can be challenging, especially if you don’t understand the culture. Here are 5 tips to stop you treading on people’s toes and help you learn the dance steps when doing business with the Brits.
Tip 1: Not all British are English. Many foreigners mistakenly use ‘English’ to talk about the nationality of all the other countries in the United Kingdom, not just England. The Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish are all British but not English.
Tip 2: Bear in mind that the British are less direct in their communication than other cultures. In fact, they might even misinterpret direct speech as being rude or arrogant. This also means what is said is not always what is meant. If a Brit says ‘There might be one or two issues with your proposal’, they could mean they just don’t like it. It’s always best to clarify what they really mean by ‘one or two issues’.
Tip 3: Small talk is essential when building rapport with the Brits. So expect to talk about your journey to the office, the weather or last night’s football game. As in many cultures, it’s best to stay away from politics or religion, and please don’t mention Brexit!
Tip 4: Socializing outside of work is an important part of building relationships, with many Brits going for after-work drinks on a Thursday or Friday. This is a good way to discuss work in a more informal setting and can help you establish a better relationship with your counterparts.
Tip 5: Humour is often used in business situations and can be seen as a tool to ease the tension in tricky discussions. So, if you’re good at telling anecdotes or jokes, you’ll feel at home and, like me, if you’re not, just remember to laugh!