US Tops Relocation Choice But Watch for Subtle Communication Cues

Guess the most popular destination country for relocation? We gave away the answer in the headline, from a study by Cartus Corporation, a global relocation services provider.  

Rounding out the top 10 destinations are: 4) Switzerland, 5) Hong Kong, 6) India, 7) Germany, 8) China, 9) Netherlands, and 10) Canada. Data was culled from 50 percent of Fortune 50 companies.

Cartus relocated more than 165,000 transferees out of about 165 countries. “No matter the country, it’s imperative for employees to understand a culture’s values, beliefs, and behaviors that differ from one’s home country,” said Jenny Castelino, director of intercultural and language solutions for Cartus in a statement.

“Adapting to a new country—whether it’s in a business situation or on a personal basis—typically requires intercultural training to ensure success,” she added.

Cartus also provided insights into the corporate culture of each country in the list that global mobility specialists should keep in mind.

In the US, expats should watch out how American managers may preface bad news with good. Don’t be surprised to hear this line: “You’re doing a great job!… but I really need you to…” If you misread the secondary part, you could get in trouble.

In Germany, eye contact is respected and expected, as it demonstrates attention and interest in a conversation, while avoiding eye contact may be interpreted as conveying the opposite message.

The Dutch in the Netherlands communicates directly and mean what they say; they’re task-focused, pragmatic people who value swift action.

In Asian countries like Singapore, respect for hierarchy may be more important than expressing individual opinion. They may seem very Westernized, but they also have an Eastern mindset, and respect for hierarchy and “saving face” are key business drivers.

An implicit rather than explicit conversational style is required in order to save face in China, especially in meetings. This may result in employees publicly agreeing with the most senior leader in the room even if they privately have opposing views.

In Hong Kong, business cards are crucial to establishing your identity. As your face “face” to the professional community here, you must have them all the time.

Employees on global assignments must know that it’s even more important what not to do and what not to say.