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Cross Cultural Communication

Tim Millett
Published by Tim Millett
08 October 2013

What is the most important aspect of team building training? Is it merely the fact that the training is taking place? Is it the knowledge of what you are achieving during that training? Or is it the new and stronger working relationships that are being formed during that time?

In reality it is probably all three things and many more. But there are also other aspects that you need to think about during this time, and one of these is cross cultural communication.

Some trainers and managers look at a room full of employees and assume that everyone is the same. They are in one way – in that they all work for the same company – but that is where any similarities may end.

The truth is that no two employees will approach a training session in the same way. Just as everyone approaches their job role slightly differently, they will also communicate with other people in a different way.

This stems mainly from the fact that not everyone will come from the same cultural background. For example, if two people originate from two different countries, you can expect that they will both be used to communicating in slightly different ways. This is because many places do have alternate ways of doing things, and that is something you need to bear in mind when you are planning any kind of training for staff members.

Take sales training modules, for example. You might have one set module for each subject, but you should be aware that individual people may have a harder time taking in the information you give. Being alert to this possibility in the first place will give you a better chance of successfully nurturing everyone through the training.

Let’s say you have two people from two different countries included within your team. If they have worked in those countries previously, they may be used to a very different way of doing things. They may also be familiar with terminology and ways of speaking that are altered from what you would expect in your own country and business.

It’s not so much the fact that you need to be aware of all the different methods and terminologies in effect in other places. What you do need to do is open the way for people to contribute to the discussion and ask any questions they need to ask. By doing this you can be assured that everyone understands your training and what is expected of them. And the team members will learn more about cross cultural communication as well.

Working as a team isn’t always an easy process. Some people will naturally get along better than others. But having said that it does pay to make sure that everyone can learn from all the other members of the team – and this can be done in many ways.

Remember also that the ultimate aim of any training is to create a corporate culture within your organisation or team. And whilst that corporate culture can benefit from the diversity of your team members, those differences should be used to enhance and not detract from the integrity of your message.

So the next time you plan a training session, think about whether you are giving people from different cultures a chance to get the best from it.

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