International business meeting? Remember this one thing…

If you mention the words Sean Bean to anyone in the UK they will instantly refer to the famous actor. However, to anyone who understands Irish Gaelic, they might think of something different, as his name literally means old woman.

A mistranslation like this might be funny in everyday situations, but in an international business meeting, it is important that everyone understands each other.

The most important thing to establish before an international meeting is, do they speak English? If not, organise an interpreter that can help both you and your potential new business partner.

Also, remember that idioms are unique to each country, so it is best to avoid them.

Do your research. Some cultures rely on small talk to build relationships and some view it as unnecessary. Know when to talk about family or home life and when it is more appropriate to get straight to business.

Your words are important, but so are your actions. Research how to formally greet people in their country and find out what gestures are seen as positive and negative. For example, in the UK we signal that things are ok with our thumb and forefinger. If you do this in Spain, you’re swearing at someone. Actions speak louder than words is a cliché, but it’s true in cases like this.

Whether it’s a yes, si, oui or ja you’re hoping for, you’re much more likely to get it with careful planning and preparation.

Luckily at Stone Junction we speak seven languages between us to improve our customers’ international services. To find out more about our international PR offering call us on +44 (0)1785 225 416 or e-mail me at 

Alison Gardner

Stone Junction is a cool technical PR agency based in Stafford. We work for all sorts of businesses, with a particular focus on technology, technical and engineering companies. We like being sent cake and biscuits by clients, journalists and prospects.

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