Be careful with irony across cultures.

“Irony is a great tool when doing business across cultures!” Or not. – Example of Irony.

Who would know it was Irony, if I had not said it? Probably not many. In general irony is not working when writing, because a main part of irony lies in the strictly sarcastic tone of voice. To compensate for the disability to set a tone, people try with smileys and other symbols when writing, but in general people are more or less unsuccessful. Therefor try to avoid irony when writing!

Not just is sarcasm evil when writing, it does also have certain limitations when talking. Usually you would use sarcasm among friends and they would have no problem getting the fact that you were being ironic. The problem happens when you bring you sarcastic humor at work and to your first business meeting. Acting as a salesman in a local community, irony will usually not cause you any trouble. But the day you sit in a meeting with an overseas business partner and fire up some ironic joke, you will experience the true evil of irony.

The problem is that irony or sarcasm is often different from culture to culture. It exists in every culture, but the understanding of humor can be very different. Therefore be careful when telling sarcastic jokes! Frequently ironic jokes get misunderstood and in the worth cases it ends up costing the deal. A man that has experienced on his own and has studied the concept of cross cultural business behavior is the Author and businessman Richard Gesteland. From his book “Cross-Cultural Business Behavior” you can read real life examples of clients walking out of a meeting because stupid ironic joke or a basic misunderstanding of the cultural differences.

So if you want to avoid getting in trouble, keep the irony between you and your friends. And go to work as a professional.