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Business Don’ts - What ESL Students Should and Shouldn’t Do

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Joined: 01 Oct 2009
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 4:17 pm    Post subject: Business Don’ts - What ESL Students Should and Shouldn’t Do Reply with quote

For many ESL students, doing business abroad can be tricky. Not knowing about the foreign culture can really work against you. Excessive anxiety or being overly eager to do business can become enormous obstacles that end up closing doors rather than opening them.

When business students learn English they accomplish their desire to know the language, which they need for business contacts. However, it does not mean complete and adequate preparation for international collaboration. When communicating with their foreign counterparts, business people encounter a different type of thinking, which determines decision-making. Thus, to be prepared for international cooperation there are many things to consider and many things to avoid. If you want to know what you shouldn’t and should do, read on.

Don’t get over eager to do business - They might take advantage of your disadvantage

Take your time to fully understand what is being said. Don’t make any rash decisions, ask for clarification if necessary. Use expressions like “can we go over that again” when in doubt. If you feel at all uncertain make sure you have everything written down and ask for a second meeting. Take all the time you need to review and go over all the info. Also, you might want to take an electronic dictionary. They have certain unique functions, such as error tolerant input, cross-referencing (e.g. synonyms and antonyms), and word and spelling and they are probably faster to use.

Be prepared

Make sure you have the information you are going to discuss written down. Take notes with you so you are very familiar with what you are going to talk about and how. Make sure you know what you’re going to say; don’t assume people will be willing to help. Practice before the encounter so you will feel confident. You have to know all relevant vocabulary and expressions before any meeting and or presentations.

Try to learn a little about the culture, business and people you’re going to do business with

Because English is so widely used around the world, it is quite possible that many members of your audience will not be native English speakers. In other words, they will not have an Anglo-Saxon culture. Even within the Anglo-Saxon world, there are many differences in culture. If we hypothetically imagine a German working for an Israeli company making a presentation in English to a Japanese audience in Korea, we can see that there are even more possibilities for cultural misunderstanding. You should try to learn about any particular cultural matters that may affect your audience. This is one reason why preparation is so important. Cultural differences can also be seen in body language for example. To someone from Southern France or Italy, a presenter who uses his hands and arms when speaking may seem dynamic and friendly. To an Englishman, the same presenter may seem unsure of his words and lacking in self-confidence.

The importance of studying mentality differences has practical implications. Being aware of mentality differences leads to international cooperation and the chance to avoid many cross-cultural conflicts. If you feel you need to improve your English speaking skills, there are great ESL Programs designed to help you overcome your language barriers.

Rachel Clarkson
Rachel Clarkson is an English teacher at LCI English and blogger at the ESL Blog.
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