SALT LAKE CITY — The International Trade and Diplomacy Office in the Governor's Office of Economic Development wants Utahns to participate in a seminar on how to avoid cultural mistakes when doing business abroad. Having cultural awareness could deliver a business deal, the office said.
“In some cultures for example, relationships come first,” said Franz Kolb, director of international protocol and diplomacy for the International Trade and Diplomacy Office. “You have to know the person first and then you talk business. In other cultures you separate business from pleasure.”
One Utah businessman has benefitted from going the extra mile to learn more about clients’ cultures. Don Salazar, president and CEO of Creative Times, said making the extra effort could open doors to more business opportunities.
“You have to broaden your base a bit as far as the culture, the city,” said Salazar. “In South America, I always try to familiarize myself with the city's soccer team.”
Business executives also suggest learning the client’s language. Ben Card, president of Arlington Scientific, recommends not relying on jokes to communicate or make a point when conducting business abroad.
“If English is their second language, then they don't get the nuances and the innuendos associated with humor,” said Kolb.
Those who attend the seminar will learn how language and culture can impact Utah business owners and their companies.
"The seminar is designed to help you build a strong foundation in communication, understanding, and cooperation between individuals, businesses, governments and cultures," said Kolb. “Presentations will center on learning appropriate protocol skills essential to avoiding cultural mistakes when hosting and conducting international business and diplomacy. Such skills are very important for success in international relations."