The concept of timeliness is only one of the many nonverbal variants you encounter when doing business internationally
On a speaking tour a few years ago, I traveled from the United Arab Emirates to China to India to Malaysia to the Philippines to Indonesia – and it seemed to me that in each country, the audience was arriving later and later. When I reached Jakarta, my program was scheduled for 7:00 p.m. “Just ignore that announcement,” I was advised. “We tell people to get here at seven, hoping they will arrive by eight. But just to be on the safe side, we never begin the program before nine.”
Contrast that to a recent experience in Toronto where my speech was scheduled to open the conference at 8:00 a.m. In order to check the audio-visual equipment I arrived an hour early, only to see a line of people already standing outside the auditorium. Concerned that I had misunderstood the agenda, I grabbed the meeting planner. “Don’t worry, “ she assured me, “you’ve got plenty of time. We Canadians just have a habit of getting places early.”
Here’s the question: Which was right – the Indonesian concept of “rubber time” or the Canadian view of promptness?
Your answer, of course, depends on the cultural standards you grew up with --because different cultures relate to time very differently.
Body language is the management of time, space, appearance, posture, gesture, touch, facial expression, eye contact, and voice. The concept of timeliness is only one of the many nonverbal variants you encounter when doing business internationally.