Case 04: Confused in Caracas, Discussion
In response to this case a project manager with a Danish company recently cracked, “Maybe Hans was just too deal-focused.” More likely our emotionally-reserved Norwegian visitor misinterpreted Evita’s emotionally-expressive body language. Latin Americans tend to be comfortable with a much smaller space bubble than northern Europeans and do more touching when conversing.
In Hans’s culture, a woman who used Evita’s body language would be indicating a strong attraction to him. In Caracas however, Evita was simply employing normal, polite nonverbal communication with a visitor to her country.
We use this case in Global Management seminars and workshops to underline the importance of nonverbal communication in international business. We need to remember that our body language often sends stronger messages than our verbal language.
Additional teaching idea: Seminar participants in European countries and the U.S. have enjoyed role-playing this case.