A Tale of Two Cities – Atlanta, GA and Paris, France

I got word that one of my colleagues has a daughter that was traveling to Paris, France for a summer study abroad program. As a random act of kindness and surprise to my friend, I contacted a French tourist office and asked for maps, city guides and magazines for my friend’s daughter. The email was sent in French and included all the necessary contact information. Within a week, I received the package and a welcoming letter courtesy from their coordinator. My friend and her daughter were delighted to their surprise. But that is not where the story ends; I wrote a thank you note to the coordinator and included an Atlanta souvenir. A couple of weeks later, I received a thank you note from the coordinator and he would gladly assist me or my colleague with any of our requests for the future. My excitement and enthusiasm lead me to believe that showing cultural sensitivity can broaden my horizons and develop great business relationships.

From this memorable experience with the coordinator, here are a few tips that anyone can implement in their business practices:

#1 When doing business with foreign counterparts, respect the language and culture.

Make it a point to contact your foreign counterpart in their native language. Not only will your message be well received but your request will be processed in a timely manner.

#2 Always say, “Thank you” (in French: Merci) and acknowledge the efforts of others.

Use business etiquette to show appreciation and build cross-cultural relationships. It is always a kind gesture to send a handwritten thank you card and a small gift.

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