Working with diverse cultural groups is fast becoming the norm, rather than exception. Whether the company is transitioning to overseas expansion or hiring from abroad, it is becoming increasing important for professionals to work effectively with colleagues from widely diverse cultures. This extends to also building a sense of camaraderie and developing a strongteam spirit, as this is what will lead an organisation to gain a competitive advantage, increase productivity and push the bottom line, in today’s global market place.
It is therefore important for us to be able to connect with all types of people, so as to foster a positive work environment. Here are ways how you can do this:
- Communicate clearly and take feedback: Different accents of people across different countries can make communication a little tough. Be sure to speak a little slowly and clearly, and keep the language simple. Take feedback on what you have communicated. If you are taking instructions, listen carefully then ask follow-up questions to confirm that what you have understood is what has been conveyed. (Also read: Learning the art of positive communication)
- Make an effort to connect: However diverse a culture, you are bound to have common grounds for discussion. Make an effort to build rapport by talking on neutral topics, like movies, food, leisure activities etc. Work and organisational objectives are of course common platforms for discussion, but move to other fields so as to connect at a personal level and so build a stronger relationship (Also read: 6 tips to managing workplace relationships)
- Get rid of pre-conceived notions: You may already have a mind block about people of a certain culture/region/religion. It is important to clear your mind of any negative assumptions. Treat each person as an individual and don’t be judgemental by typecasting people into stereotypes. Keep an open mind and you will find that people are quite different from what you may have presumed them to be.
- Be aware of work culture: If you have to deal with a particular country/region, it is good to do some research and find out about the nuances of the work culture of that particular country. Today easy net access has made all information available at the tip of one’s fingers, so do your research. A particular country may have a formal or an informal work culture, so be aware of what is expected, eg in some countries using first names at the workplace is the norm, whereas in more closed cultures it may be considered offensive to use the first name. So be aware of general norms before going to/ dealing with a particular country. (Also read: Brush up your skills for the global work environment )