Today’s world is characterised by globalisation, ever-improving information and transportation systems, multicultural communities and workplaces, as well as changing political systems. The process of globalisation facilitates operations across borders and cultures.
However, it also creates new obstacles that international companies have to deal with in order to be successful. The amount of cross-cultural interaction, loaded as it is with potential difficulties rooted in cultural differences, grows steadily in frequency and intensity, bringing about the need for organisations to prepare their staff (at all levels) with cross-cultural training and international competency coaching.
In international organisations, cross-cultural skills are not an add-on: they become part of our normal way of working and have to be embedded into the way we lead, work and collaborate. Cross-cultural training should focus on giving people practical tools and experience in diagnosing their own culture, understanding others’ and managing any differences and gaps.
In China, the customary tradition is that gifts are refused up to three times before being accepted.
United Arab Emirates
It is important to eat, shake hands and pass documents with the right hand only. Using the left hand to do any of those activities would be a serious insult.
In Spain business professionals see deadlines more as a guideline and not as something that is frowned upon if missed.
Even in developed markets, cultural differences can be very visible. American managers often accentuate the positives and minimise the negatives, disguising their criticism with encouraging language to soften the blow. By contrast, French managers tend to gloss over the positives and provide direct, blunt feedback. Thus, if you relocate your French staff to the US or vice versa they will have very different views on their performance and feedback.
The demand for effective training programs in cross-cultural communication and sensitivity has exploded in recent years, driven by the desire to prevent such misunderstandings and to boost corporate competitiveness in the global marketplace. Unfortunately, there’s no consensus on what makes such training effective. The commitment to improving internal and external cross-cultural communication must become part of the company’s culture and apply to everyone equally, from the CEO down.
One of the best ways to dive into another culture is by learning a new language. It boosts cross-border communication and collaboration between teams and offices and reduces conflict and bias internally and externally. Avoiding the culture is actually rather hard to do if you study a language and interact with its speakers. For example, you simply cannot learn to speak and function in Arabic if you are not familiar with its underlying culture or Islamic influence. Developing an organisation-wide language learning strategy is key to breaking down communication barriers and building a truly global and collaborative organisation. Companies of all sizes benefit from strong language and cross-cultural skills.
At Busuu, we are confident that our methodology helps employees learn new languages and understand cultures with our award-winning mobile courses. Busuu is a language learning app with over 90 million users worldwide. We provide high-quality language courses created by our team of language experts and a social network to allow practice with native speakers.
- Award-winning language courses for your employees
- Official level certification by McGraw-Hill Education
- Available on web and mobile
- Complementary learning anytime and anywhere with Offline Mode
- Management platform to track learner progress
- Easy to set up and ready within minutes