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Culture Shock

If you don't learn to bridge the gap, you may risk alienating potential business partners.

By Marc Diener

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Did you know that in Japanese, there are 19 different ways tosay "no"? In a world increasingly dominated byinternational, multinational and transnational corporations,culture plays an important role in negotiation. The literature onthis subject is large, fascinating and goes far beyond curiousquestions of international etiquette.

For example, the Japanese eschew direct confrontation,preferring an exchange of information. Russians love combat; theirvery word for "compromise" is borrowed from anotherlanguage. Spanish negotiators are individualistic; Koreans are teamplayers. Nigerians prefer the spoken word, Indians the written one.Asian languages are high in context, so you must pay attention toinflections, body language and what is not said. LatinAmerican cultures are physically demonstrative. And we Americansalienate everyone with our impatience and obsession with gettingthings done . . . fast, fast, fast!

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