Building strong relationships in the United Kingdom requires you to understand the way the British like to build work connections and establish agreements.
The British are target-driven with a short-term outlook for business, but prefer to cultivate long-term relationships, so it is worth making the effort to socialize in the pub after work and get to know people. A good command of English is also important, as the British are generally speaking relatively poor at learning and speaking other languages outside of their own.
British are relationship-oriented, therefore you need to build relationships based on trust and remember that first impression is very important. You will not have another chance to make it count.
When building relationships with British people, remember to do following points:
- Be open, honest and sincere and make sure you deliver results in order to build trust with the British, for the reason that they value and appreciate long-term relationships. Once you have established trust, then your friendship and business relationship with your British counterpart will be a genuine one.
- Be prepared for indirectness in communication. For example, “May I suggest that . . .” instead of “I’d like you to . . .” This politeness is meant as a courtesy, but can be confusing to someone used to a more direct style of communication. Pay attention to tone of voice and facial expression as well as to what is actually said.
- Be prepared for a strange mix of open, friendly people who can also appear uptight and reserved, and who often say the opposite to what they really mean. Trying to emulate this, probably won’t work but being prepared not to take the British too literally does help.
- The use of implied language: “Perhaps we could consider some other options”, really meaning “I don’t like your ideas”, and humor as a tool to defuse tension, are characteristics of British management dialogue. If somebody says something is ‘quite good’, it probably means they really don’t like it at all. Irony is used frequently in the UK.
- The British are not very tactile people. They often display discomfort with perceivably intimate physical contact such as kissing, hugging, back-slapping or touching in a formal situation. Such actions are reserved for close friends and family only.
- Avoid asking too many personal questions. Privacy is important.
One more important thing is to expect a high level of humor even in business situations. The humor is often ironic – saying one thing, but meaning another. And it can also be self-deprecating as well as sarcastic and cynical.
Even if you feel frustrated, and experience culture shock when in the UK, you should keep in mind the British communication style and values if you want to be successful in the United Kingdom. Keep your chin up and try to adapt to their culture. Go ahead, show a positive approach, and follow these instructions and you will see that the outcome will be great.
If you want to find out more about building relationship across cultures read this article: