Business communication in UK organizations is different from customs familiar to the average American.
After reading the online article Understanding business etiquette in the U.K. I was surprised at the cultural norms and differences between the people of the United Kingdom and the United States.
Although it’s a place I hope to one day visit, and a place I’ve seen documented on film and in pop-culture extensively, there are many new facets of U.K. culture I wasn’t aware of previously.
- One interesting cultural norm in the U.K. is how they communicate. “Communicating too directly — or showing a great deal of emotion — is considered inappropriate in many circumstances, particularly when doing business” (Aetna).
- British people also use self-deprecating humor, but it’s not a sign of weakness. “But don’t mistake any jokes made at their own expense for a lack of confidence or ability, or as an indication that their work is not being taken seriously” (Aetna).
- Like Americans, folks in the U.K. are versed in small talk before meetings and engagements. “It’s also considered polite to exchange some small talk before the meeting formally begins” (Aetna).
After thinking about differences from the U.K. to the United States, and my personality, I would have the most significant difficulty with being too direct. When I communicate, I’m very direct and voice my concerns immediately, so I could see this potentially causing a problem.
Can you improve your business communication in UK organizations?
Ultimately, to combat this cultural difference when communicating with people from the U.K. as an expat, I would work to chaperone my directness and keep it in check. It would be a struggle, but I feel I could reverse my usual tendency and instead offer vaguer, pleasing responses in business.
Studying cultural differences can pay huge rewards when in business situations, as knowing the local culture and communication style lends itself to increased trust, and an improved ability to make business deals and advancements.
UK friends — I’ll work on being less direct when I visit!