When we do business in the global world we tend to go to the country we have our customers in with an idea of how the people will be. We could call this “stereotype”. This means that through the stories we have heard about that country and its people, through reading books and watching movies, listening to our friends and reading the newspaper, we think we have a clear image about how the natives work, negotiate, do business and communicate.
Unfortunately, stereotyping is a way to help us understand another culture, it gives us hints about possible behaviour we our going to encounter, however it can also have a negative impact on our business. Why is that ? Well because let´s imagine that you are going to meet your customer in Germany. A stereotype of Germans is that they are very punctual. Now your customer arrives late, what happens in your mind ? You might think that he is disrespectful, he did it on purpose because usually Germans are very punctual ! In fact your customer being late will create already a barrier to communication as what you were expecting from the stereotype you had did not happen.
Stereotypes can be used to help us recognize certain aspects of cultures, however they are not to be taken literally ! Because in every culture you have different people who have different personalities, a different education and thus they may not belong to the stereotype of the country you are going to.
Here is a little video about French stereotypes, those of you that know France very well will probably smile as these stereotypes reflect the way French people are seen by others, Please do not do business or go to France with these stereotypes in mind, you may be disappointed.