Today, cross cultural awareness becomes one of the most crucial things – not only for business but for traveling pleasure. Imagine having to travel to other areas or countries being clueless about the native culture. It’s a sensitive matter – you can either make harmless mistakes or serious ones. Without that cross cultural understanding, it is so easy to offend other.
With technology and how the world is being so open these days, it is pretty common that companies consist of people from different kinds of background, education, level of experience, and also cultural differences. In today’s life, having (or even mastering) cultural competence would be a valuable skill. Whether you are traveling for holidays, traveling for work, or even being in the same workplace from different cultures, such an awareness or competence would be important.
The Role of Cultural Awareness Introduction and Training
Such a training is also known as cultural competency training, cross-cultural training, or intercultural training. It provides insights, information, and also skills to the participants so they understand, realize, work, and flourish well in (and with) the cultures – others than their own native culture. The training usually involves language differences (and how to deal with them), intercultural (business) strategies, intercultural management skill, communication styles in cross-cultural manner, and cultural attitudes and values.
In the past, such a training would result in soft skill. But today, the certification and courses are crucial to help business to grow. In fact, such a training in cross cultural awareness has become an imperative factor in business growth and development.
The Regular Benefits
There are several perks of getting the training about cross cultural awareness.
- It may attract the best (international) talent and candidates successfully
- It would strengthen positive bond and relationship between staff
- It builds harmonious, happy, and productive teams
- It surpasses the competitors – especially across the international markets
- It is able to create longer-lasting, stronger, and more solid relationships with international co-workers and partners
- It promotes better employees’ reintegration
- It improves career possibilities and prospects within leadership roles and international assignment
- It improves the company’s customer service in international provision
- It helps you to understand the customers from different cultural ranges – in order to improve international service and product offering.
How to Improve Cultural Experience and Knowledge
If you want to improve your cross cultural awareness and skills, having a cultural diversity training would be helpful. This is a common practice in companies or corporation because these organizations and businesses understand that employees would work better if they are able to overcome their cultural differences. It doesn’t mean that you should overlook those differences. But it is more about embracing those differences and implementing full understanding manner.
In dealing with cross cultural awareness, you understand that not only your culture is important, but others are also important. You value your own as well as others. You are able to appreciate other people’s opinions, feedbacks, and experience with their own cultures – while still respecting your own cultural values. When people are able to set those differences aside, they should be able to work together and even perform actions as the single unit.
That’s why it is important for business owners to implement cross cultural training. It is done to promote solid cultural awareness within a professional surroundings while improving the cultural literacy abilities and skills of the employees. Our world today is diverse – we live in a multicultural setting where we meet different kinds of people from different kinds of surroundings and backgrounds. When business people have this kind of skill, they should be able to prevent any cultural conflict, understand and deal better with foreign customers, and interact well with their colleagues. Such a training should be able to open your mind – as you realize that the world is bigger and wider and broader than you know in your mind. Better understanding of other people coming from different cultural regions can turn you into a positive person – as you are more open-minded and you better understanding of others.
Managing the Training
So, when you want to enforce cross cultural awareness at work, the first thing to do is be involved in cultural awareness training. It is generally about global citizenship where the participants get the lessons and information about various cultural differences and their practices. The lessons would be presented in frames and cases that are real and close to your own personal setting. For instance, if the team consists of members from Asian culture as well as South American culture, what are the possible clashes that may happen? How to deal with those clashes? And there are so many things to dig from that insight.
Moreover, when you learn about cross cultural awareness in the training session, it would be better and wiser to get the insight and knowledge from someone who is already familiar with the culture. For instance, if the company is doing a lot of its business in China, it would be great to get formal training from those who have had the experience of working in China. Or if it is possible, get the training from Chinese staff or expert. Or when you are working together with a company from South American, it would be great if you get the training from one who has been working there.
When you are dealing with such a training within a business perimeter, the formal training would cover different kinds of topics, like negotiation skills, marketing skills, business etiquette, and also communication.
Focusing on Communication Skills
There is no doubt that differences exist. With cultural gap, it gets so easy to be misunderstood or do something wrong. That’s why, having a good skill in communication is crucial. In fact, you should be able to bridge the difference and gap with solid communication ability. Being able to understand other country or nation’s language is great, but it would be even greater if you have a deeper understanding the local culture.
Misunderstanding is easily happening; that’s why it would be better to focus on the messages you want to convey and avoid using humor or colloquialism. If you have to perform a task in Japan, for instance, not only you need to understand the language (which is crucial to make deals, negotiate, etc), but knowing some of their valuable cultural aspects would make it easier. Focus on short sentences for effective delivery of information. You can later follow up with face-to-face meeting, webcam, or email.
Good Manner and Politeness
It doesn’t hurt to have good manners and be courteous. There is nothing wrong about saying thank you or please. Whether you are having a business with a foreign business company or you have several colleagues from different cultural background, being respectful, caring, or polite will always help. After all, informality isn’t acceptable in several places of countries. Even the seemingly simplest actions will matter; such as allowing clients to lead, address them formally (not using the first name), and such thing alike.
Celebrate Traditional Festivals, Food, and Holidays
This is one way to celebrate diversities. You’d be surprised to know that can increase intercultural awareness, literacy, and even acceptance. Some companies implement such celebrations through news bulletin and company email. When it is possible (or appropriate), manage and arrange an event at work. Companies that are doing this are showing respect, acceptance, and recognition of the different cultures within that professional setting.
The celebration doesn’t have to be big or grandeur. It can be simple and straightforward, such as international food day or a staff dinner or a fun brunch. Through these events, employees can bring their own homeland’s traditional dish. They can learn different languages. Improving the cultural awareness doesn’t have to be boring or bland. It can be fun, engaging, and entertaining.
Paying attention is basically is the easiest and the simplest form of learning. You simply observe and pay attention. Do you notice that some of your colleagues are very religious – and everything they do depends on their belief and worship of God? Do you notice that some of them are very proud of their cultural richness – shown from their clothes, the accessories they have (and bring to work) and such thing alike? From paying attention, you can actually develop your own understanding and insight.
Such a practice can be helpful when a business has to perform a thorough and deep research about their clients or customers, especially their foreign customers in an international platform. By knowing more about their customs and etiquette, not only you can improve business but you can build a better experience and a more positive outcome. It may promote longer-lasting relationship that can be good for everyone.
Most importantly, you want to start from your closest surroundings – your work area or your office. If you are working in a foreign office, you should observe your colleagues. See how they conduct the business and carry themselves. If you understand the values shaping those behaviors and actions, you will develop better understanding. No matter how annoying (at first), confusing, or strange it is, you should be able to respond in rational and calm way. And that’s how cross cultural awareness should be implemented.