When I started working outside of Germany 30 years ago I first got confronted with the typical stereotypes picked up from war movies, the way way certain Germans behave on the beach and the ever present German evil mastermind. Later when I started to work in projects between UK and German companies I got in the same trap as people working on a Japanese American project (which I also did about 10 years ago). Both German and Japanese like to show hundreds of slides and the best presentation is one where no question is asked, while in America and in the UK it is just the opposite.
Today we often forget the differences as we feel all so much closer within the Internet or we think that we know them in detail if it is only stereotypes that we know. When working in Asia I have often experienced some very fundamental misunderstandings such as that all architecture diagrams will always move from left to right and from up to down. In countries where writing moves in a different pattern you will often see that if this is not pointed out explicitly architectures for global rollouts are misunderstood, which in terms often mean the failure of a large project. The same is also true with some little stupid things such as that in the United States a google is ‘on’ with the switch up, whereas in the UK it usually means exactly the opposite. I have seen that this little difference in two nearly similar cultures lead to the failure of 3 digit million project.
Since the list is nearly endless with countries where an ‘X’ means refusal and others where it means acceptance, it is important on all multi cultural projects to have replay sessions where the message is replayed using different words in a non treating way.