The stereotypical image of the Brit abroad, ignorant and insensitive of cultural differences – speaking very slowly and extremely loudly to make themselves understood by the locals, is thankfully a thing of the past. We now live in far more enlightened times: Most of us will be used to encountering cultural diversity in our lives and will probably count people with different cultural backgrounds among our friends and colleagues. Holidays and leisure travel have made us more culturally aware and increasingly, globalisation in the world of business requires more and more of us to cross cultures in the workplace – communicating and interacting with co-workers, customers and clients from cultures other than our own.
No matter how culturally aware you may think you are though, it’s inevitable that how you see others will be influenced by your own cultural perspective – in just the same way that how others see you will be influenced by theirs. In a business environment, making sure there is complete clarity in communications can be critical. Just think for a moment about some of the very basic areas where you will have a clear concept of how to behave within your own culture;
- Meeting & greeting
- Dress code
- Time keeping
- Management style
While all of these will be second nature to you when dealing with someone who shares your cultural origins, attitudes to each area will vary widely across cultures. Get it wrong and you run the risk of a serious misunderstanding or causing unintentional offence. And of course – this is just the tip of the iceberg – there are many other, far more subtle areas where potential cross cultural mishaps can occur.
To successfully navigate the complex cultural landscape of the global village, you will need a good understanding of how different cultures trade and do business, an insight into how they communicate and manage people. In short, you must develop a cultural intelligence so you can communicate confidently across cultures.
The best way to do this is to undertake Cross Cultural Training – a process that helps to develop awareness between people where there is no pre-existing common cultural framework. Such training can be generic or focus on a specific country or culture and will deal with the multitude of areas where culture impacts on the workplace, addressing the challenges it can throw up.
Cross Cultural Training: Culture Specific
Where individuals (or teams) from an organisation make regular business trips to a specific country, or are required to work with overseas colleagues, Cross Cultural Training that focuses on a specific culture or country can be effective in improving communications. This type of training will look at broad areas such as values, morals, ethics, business practices and etiquette from the perspective of the specific culture in question and will help to develop better working relationships among colleagues.
Cross Cultural Training: Generic
There are a wide range of business situations where generic Cross Cultural Training can significantly benefit an organisation. Many businesses are made up of teams of individuals from different cultural backgrounds and Cross Cultural Team Training will help team members to be aware of, and deal with these differences resulting in better communications and more efficient team working.
Where managers have responsibility for multi-cultural staff, Cross Cultural Management Training will equip them with the specialist skills needed to get the best out of their staff – while engendering a harmonious environment, conducive to better productivity.
Cross Cultural Training can also be tailored to focus on areas such as negotiating across cultures or recruiting staff from different cultural backgrounds – any area in fact where there is a cultural dimension that needs to be understood and addressed. In the global market place, it is those businesses that appreciate the advantages that arise from embracing cultural diversity and are prepared to invest in training staff that will emerge stronger and fitter than their competitors.
Are you planning to go overseas on a business trip? Do you have all the cultural knowledge and skills to make your trip a success? Please click here
Do you manage a culturally diverse team of staff? Could you benefit from Cross Cultural Training? Find out how to maximize the performance of your team working overseas or in the UK please click here.