When dealing with colleagues or clients from a different culture, you need to know two things: your approach and the approach of the other culture.
One area to consider is communication style. What is your style? What is theirs?
Are you Direct or Indirect?
Do you like to get straight to the point or do you like to take your time? Do you hint at what you want rather than spell it out? Some cultures value being direct and communicate in a clear straightforward way – telling it like it is so people know where they stand! Others prefer a more less direct approach.
Do you say ‘I don’t like that’ or ‘That’s really nice, it works really well and I can see how it might be a possibility but I am not sure it’s for me’
When working together the indirect culture finds the direct culture too abrupt, while the direct culture finds the indirect culture evasive.
Are you Reserved or Emotional?
To behave in an calm and reserved way is considered essential in business in some cultures as a sign of professionalism. A more emotional culture will expresses feelings and emotions as a sign of passion and interest in the business.
The reserved cultures will consider the emotional culture as weak and lacking professional calm under pressure. A more emotional culture views this reservation as a lack of interest and engagement in the process. Each misinterprets the others’ intentions.
Understanding the hidden value behind each style leads to a better understanding of each others’ approach. Why you can feel offended when no offence and fail to connect with each other which affects working relationships.
These are only two key areas which can lead to misunderstanding! Communication impacts on how relationships are developed, how meetings are conducted, decisions made and agreements reached.
Intercultural Competence means getting to know yourself before you can understand the other!