Bridging the Cultural Divide: How to Build and Maintain Offshore Relationships

It’s not enough to spend minimally in your foreign relationships—it involves thoroughly understanding the people and culture you’re working with—as the world continues to get smaller and the global supply chain expands. These connections may develop into a significant asset for your company, giving you an edge over rivals.

The standard is higher for businesses getting ready to handle global partnerships than just having a working understanding of the local language and a list of holidays and celebrations. Innovative thinking and curiosity are needed to invest in these partnerships.

Let’s look at five suggestions that can help you forge enduring connections with people from various cultural backgrounds while avoiding potential pitfalls.

offshore relationships


Learn to Understand Cultural Differences

As trust develops and potential business deals are negotiated and closed, cultural differences are highlighted at first. It’s crucial to understand how to handle these connections and what trust looks like (and doesn’t seem like).

Here are a few examples:

1. South America

Even before commercial decisions can be taken, trust must first be developed in South American cultures. This could seem like a waste of time for those from a results-based culture, but it is necessary for a lasting relationship.

2. China

Guanxi, a network of contacts and connections, is the foundation on which business partnerships are created in China. Introductions from mutual acquaintances might help you establish a rapport with the other party and establish your authority in the area.

3. India

Give yourself enough time to engage in conversation and small talk about Indian culture. Direct communication isn’t the greatest approach because it frequently results in unwarranted pressure being placed on others. Learn to interpret what is being stated by looking beyond the obvious.

By taking the time to choose the appropriate course of action and acting with respect when interacting with your business partners, you will be better equipped to bridge the cultural divide.

Develop a Healthy Curiosity

If maintaining a good connection with your offshore team is crucial to you, then so is constant learning.

Be enquiring! Keep an eye on everything around you and in your interactions. Observe how responses are offered and ask thoughtful questions. If at all feasible, visit the area to get a sense of the local culture. Even meet the team in person (if appropriate), and get a sense of how people interact.

Your continued interest in your offshore partners will help you learn more about them and develop a mutually beneficial relationship.

Learn More About Communication Styles

Learning about the local culture goes beyond the fundamentals of cultural events and general assessments of how a region behaves in business situations, though they can be helpful, and extends to the specifics of their communication techniques.

Best-selling author and leadership coach Mark Murphy has a method of communicating that is useful. He divides communication into four major categories: functional, analytical, intuitive, and personal.

This strategy focuses on the details that each conversational style seeks out and how to speak to them.

Most communication is emotionless and logical. The emphasis is on facts, figures, and specific information.
An intuitive person thrives on quick solutions and big-picture concepts. They seek a thorough summary that avoids going into much detail.

The procedure is everything. This type of communication emphasizes plans, processes, and step-by-step instructions.

This communication style prioritizes emotional language, connection, and relationships. In addition to advancing a project, communication offers an opportunity to get to know others.

When attempting to establish long-term relationships, it might be beneficial to use these communication patterns to understand how your counterparts in other cultures prefer to communicate (whether by observation, inquiry, or consultation with references).

Most Importantly: Invest in the People

In the end, it comes down to understanding the interpersonal dynamics underlying the business dealings, particularly when you work to establish and sustain strong relationships with your suppliers and factory owners. Be observant, be curious, and use your resources to study into culture in greater detail and beyond the fundamentals.

The process of learning about the culture will then give way to learning from one another.