Meeting & Greeting International Visitors

Our visitors now come from right across the world and when you’re working in the tourism industry it’s important to know how to receive international visitors to your region.

We all of exceptions of how we like to be treated when we are visitors and I am sure we have all experienced disappointment at how we were treated when abroad. Quite often the disappointment was due to differences in culture in meeting and hosting visitors. This workshop helped those in the frontline on the tourism industry to look at how the different cultural ways of meeting and greeting. First impression count!

A satisfied customer will return and will spread the word and word of mouth is one of the best recommendation for any business.

The workshop looked at how to consider different cultural perspectives in:
Greetings, names
How to be clear in communication: Plain English signs, information, rules and regulations
The impact of volume, tone of voice, pace of speech and different interpretations of smiling, emotion, humour
Perceptions of status, role and gender
Personal space, eye contact
Dress and appearance
Direct and indirect communication
Listening: active and non active
Time: decision making, meals, arrival & departures

International Projects

Training was delivered to a UK/ Ireland organisation who were working will colleagues across Europe. Some meetings were held online while others took place face to face. Both these types of meetings have their own protocol which is influenced by the cultural protocol for conducting meetings. The training explored intercultural communication skills to understand how culture impacts and influences how business meetings are is conducted, how decisions are made and how agreement is reached.

Intercultural competencies are now essential for business success as we work with colleagues and clients with different cultural working practices. Teams are increasingly working with colleagues from different cultures and it is important that Team Leaders and Team members come equipped with intercultural skills and knowledge.

How tea reveals so much about your culture!!

It’s funny how a simple act like offering and taking tea can reveal so much about your culture. Here in N Ireland we have our own tea ceremony! Firstly, if you’re offered a cup of tea, even if you really want one, you’ve got to refuse at least twice! It’s important to show your host that you don’t want to inconvenience them or in N Irish terms ‘put them to too much trouble’ The offer, refusal, offer refusal has it’s own linguistic gymnastics captured perfectly by Mrs Doyle, famous for her tea making, in ‘Father Ted’ “You’ll have some tea… are you sure you don’t want any? Aw go on, you’ll have some. Go on go on go on go on go on go on go on go on GO ON!” Even if you don’t want tea the chances are you’ll get one anyway. If you’re in a cafe then there’s a whole different protocol over who pays! Again Mrs Doyle shows it off perfectly in this clip and it is only slightly exagherated!

Working with Clients from other Cultures

Training has recently been delivered to an engineering company who work with clients from Qatar, India, Japan, China, USA and Russia. The workshops explored some of the issues which had caused some problems in agreeing services and finalising contracts.

Today, knowing how to manage in culturally different business environments is crucial for business success.

Intercultural competence is the ability to understand your own approach and the approach of the other culture in order to adjust your communication style to the different cultural communication styles.

Communication styles differ according to the cultural norms of each culture. This includes all aspects of verbal and non verbal communication when speaking, agreeing, planning, team working and managing people.

Intercultural competence is also the ability to recognise the different verbal and non verbal styles and to adjust to the different ways of communicating.

Yes in some cultures mean ‘I hear you’ not ‘I agree’

Do you know how long your cultural pause is? Cultures working together with different cultural pauses often cut each other off! This often the reason why issues aren’t raised at meetings because we move on and don’t provide time for people with a slower cultural pause to raise their concerns.

Intercultural Competence for the Tourism Industry

A series of training for the Tourism sector ‘Walk the Walk Tourism Thirst Quenching Master class’ included a programme of training for the Tourism sector. A number of Master classes provided an opportunity to learn through experience, networking and listening to presentations on the topics of experiential tourism, product development, activity tourism, customer service and culture.

The Intercultural Competence workshop looked at how to treat people like they would like to be treated.

Delivering a product or service in a way that satisfies buyers or users from cultures or countries other than your own

  • To provide products or services in a way that satisfies the full spectrum of users.
  • Satisfied users will come back and spread the word

Learn to consider another perspective.

  • Consider the differences in:
    • Greetings, names
    • Clear communication: Plain English signs, information, rules and regulations
    • Volume, tone of voice, pace of speech
    • Smiling, emotion, humour
    • Perceptions of status, role and gender
    • Personal space, eye contact
    • Dress and appearance
    • Direct and indirect communication
    • Listening: active and non active
    • Time: decision making, meals, arrival & departures

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What is your Cultural Communication Style?

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? 

le-dialogueTo 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!

Personalities shift when we switch language

Humor is notoriously lost in translation. And there are lots of ways personalities shift when we switch language. A recent study in the Public Library of Science shows that our moral judgments may be affected by language, too.

Unlike language-dependent puns or sarcasm, we like to think that moral decisions are rooted in steadfast principles of right and wrong. But researchers have recently argued that people make systematically different judgments depending on whether they face a moral dilemma in a foreign or native language. (The study was conducted by Albert Costa and Alice Foucart, Universitat Pompeu Fabra; Sayuri Hayakawa and Boaz Keysar, University of Chicago Department of Psychology; Melina Aparici, Department de Psicologia Basica, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona; Jose Apesteguia, Department of Economics, Universitat Pompeu Fabra; and Joy Heafner, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, University of Connecticut.)

Moral judgment is driven—according to the model used by the researchers—by the interaction of two dominant forces: intuitive processes, which are prompted by the emotional content of a given dilemma; and rational processes, which are driven by a controlled, conscious evaluation of potential outcomes. The intuitive process tends to support judgments that favor the essential rights of a person, such as a right to privacy, to life, or to freedom from cruel treatment, while the rational process supports utilitarian judgments favoring the greater good, regardless of an individual’s rights. For example, a utilitarian might approve of the occasional torture of suspected terrorists if it would secure a safer, happier world for everyone else.

According to the study, people using a foreign language make substantially more utilitarian decisions when they’re faced with a moral dilemma. Costa and his colleagues came to this conclusion by presenting participants from the United States, Korea, France, Spain, and Israel with the same scenario: A train is about to kill five people, and the only way to stop it is to push a man in front of it. Though this would kill the man, it would save the five people. A utilitarian analysis would dictate sacrificing one to save five. Half the subjects were asked this question in their native language, the other half in a foreign language.

Across all populations, more participants selected the utilitarian choice when using a foreign language. (On average, the rate of utilitarian decision-making went up bymore than one-half compared to the rate of utilitarian decision-making in anative tongue.) Researchers explain this in terms of the reduced emotional response: The increased psychological distance of thinking and speaking in an alien tongue reduces the impact of intuitive emotional concerns. As a result, people tend to favor rational, cost-benefit considerations.

Of course, people vary in their levels of foreign-language proficiency. Researchers thus hypothesized that preferences for utilitarian responses would vary accordingly. A further experiment, which divided participants into groups based on proficiency, showed that increased proficiency helps people become more emotionally grounded in a foreign language. The number of utilitarian responses in the low-proficiency group was significantly larger than in the high-proficiency group.

“It is normally supposed that something always gets lost in translation,” writes Salman Rushdie in Imaginary Homelands; “I cling, obstinately, to the notion that something can also be gained.” The trade-offs may be even more extensive than Rushdie had imagined.