Cross-cultural communication: how squash helps to better understand foreign partners

Cross-cultural communication: how squash helps to better understand foreign partners

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English is considered the most popular language of international communication. However, there is another way of communication - sports, with the help of a racket and a ball. This language is able to unite peoples, cultures and business. How exactly? We consider in the material on improving the understanding of foreign partners with the help of squash.

It is unlikely that your Chinese business colleague will be happy that you will accept his business card with one hand, you will gesture a lot and express joy too emotionally regarding the signing of the next contract. Likewise, the American will not appreciate the lack of a smile in response to his trademark "Hollywood".

In a globalized world, business communication is often international and, as a result, intercultural in nature. And if the European heritage is more or less close and understandable for Ukrainians, although each country also has its own characteristics, then the communication of our entrepreneurs with representatives of, for example, Asian and Arab cultures often causes a significant number of sometimes funny and sometimes offensive incidents.

Misunderstandings can develop positively: when partners simply laughed benevolently and switched the focus to continuing negotiations on much more important common issues. But it may be quite the opposite - the loss of multimillion-dollar contracts, the termination of partnerships, a decline in business reputation, the gaining fame of a person who does not respect the cultural traditions of another people.

To prevent the negative and devastating consequences for business of not knowing the culture of another people, it is important to always prepare before meetings: google, study literature, communicate with familiar entrepreneurs who are more experienced in this matter. However, personal experience is no less important: observation and practice of intercultural communication. Where can you get it? Undoubtedly, travel is the most obvious and attractive way, but there are others that are more affordable for an entrepreneur with a busy schedule, which does not give the opportunity to devote a week or a few to things that are outside the business. And this is a hobby! Here you should immediately think about the fact that there is hardly an occupation that better "takes off the masks", unites and inspires communication than sports. And one of its varieties, which I recommend paying attention to, is squash.

How does it help to learn more about the culture of each country? Let's start with the fact that international squash competitions are held all over the world, including in Ukraine. One example of such events is the friendship tournament between Ukraine and Pakistan this September, which is organized in Kiev by the Ukrainian Squash Federation, the Kiev Squash Federation with the support of the Pakistani Embassy. Such competitions are an ideal place to study the cultural characteristics of different peoples, because this is facilitated by the time and conditions of the event, participants and organizers, and the general atmosphere.

Usually the duration of an international tournament is not limited to one day. This means that you will have enough time to form your own impression of the representatives of a particular nationality. You will be able to observe the behavior, the level of emotionality, gestures, facial expressions in dynamics, in different situations (positive and negative for a particular person), which will take shape during the tournament.

Temporary advantages are enhanced by the fact that squash players usually come to the competition not themselves, but with a team, coach, support. That is, you will be able to observe how representatives of another culture communicate with their fellow countrymen and, conversely, with foreigners in the most natural and emotionally open environment. It will be useful to pay attention to gestures, facial expressions, speech style.

Remembering the emotional state of the participants and the atmosphere, it is important to note such a property of squash as "unmasking". This sport is characterized and distinguished by the fact that, thanks to its high intensity, it reveals the true character of people. This way you will be able to see the true nature of representatives of different nationalities on the court.

For those who have already participated in such events, it is no secret that a squash tournament is not only intense confrontations on the court, but also fun parties in order to get to know colleagues better. An informal atmosphere is also one of the most conducive factors for observation and direct communication with representatives of the international community.

Just the perfect place to practice! Indeed, unlike business partners, nothing actually connects you with other participants and guests of the tournament, except for a general interest in squash: no contracts, no financial obligations, no projects. Of course, one must be careful not to offend a person's national feelings, but one can safely minimize the fear of consequences, even of a minor mistake in the cultural aspect.

The question is pertinent: behavior in sports and in business are completely different things. And would it be relevant to implement observational squash in business communications? My answer is yes! After all, it should be remembered that first of all people run around the court and sit at the negotiating table, and the cultural peculiarities of the country are manifested not only in specific individuals or situations, but in general.

There are exceptions, but we are talking about general patterns and traits that are useful to a businessman. Of course, you should always analyze, look at the situation, think over an individual approach to your business partner.

So, squash is an ideal environment for exploring the cultural characteristics of different nationalities: observation and practical communication. Therefore, every businessman who works with foreign partners should pay attention to this sport as a hobby, a tool for expanding horizons and replenishing knowledge about the peoples of the world.

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