The American culture poses as a hulking barrier to cultural understanding because the ingrained notion of national superiority goes beyond the more universal cultural pride. Consider that the “American way” has the potential to offend and destroy a business deal. It should therefore be largely disposed of abroad. Consider cultures that place a high value on gifts, the lack of one would be a snub. The French who hold dear to their native language become offended if business professionals refuse to make a mere attempt at speaking french, and the discussion of juicy American burgers in India would certainly cause tension between business partners. Likewise, while Americans value results, South Africans value relationships; Americans like firm prices, Indians want to negotiate. Americans must put off their cultural preferences in order to prevent miscommunications that could prove deadly to a business deal or relationship. Business professionals abroad should go beyond understanding the culture by taking off the American ways to put on the foreign ones.
Successfully clothing a professional in a new culture will take practice and so professionals should travel frequently, but there is another barrier: visas. Outside of a person’s unwillingness to leave home, visas are one of the largest barriers to cultural understanding. They can cost hundreds of dollars, sometimes processing for months and even years and as a result make travel extremely difficult and even impossible. Thus, fewer American business executives are able to leave their desks to physically explore the culture in which their firm operates abroad. This has all sorts of implications that in the end, result in a lack of company efficiency. Visa barriers should be decreased to promote more travel and encourage cultural intelligence globally.