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The boom in online software to help businesses cross the cultural divide, from matching up cultural profiles to emotional recognition.

This story is adapted from a broadcast audio segment; use audio player to listen to story in its entirety.

American business doesn’t end at America’s borders. It hasn’t for a long time: in the 1980s, the trick was figuring out how to do business in Japan or Europe. Now it might be China or India or Brazil.

It’s an old problem. When you’re doing business overseas, you often have to bridge some kind of culture gap. But many intercultural trainers — cultural bridge builders if you like — say a set of modern illusions is making things worse. Technology can connect anyone to everyone at any time, so the business world seems smaller and more uniform. But culturally the world isn’t flat, it’s bumpy.

“People who are doing business with each other — Americans and Chinese, or French and Indian — they become disillusioned because they don’t quite read each other,” said intercultural trainer Lisa LaValle-Finan. “They don’t quite understand what make the other guy tick.

Working out what makes the other guy tick is just good business, especially in today’s economy.

An animated intercultural video from the training firm Kwintessential features a flirtatious Brazilian man who’s behaving a bit too informal for his Western visitor. For instance, he’s sitting on a couch with his legs wide apart.

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