November 5, 2014

5 Reasons Your Team Needs Cross-Cultural Training

Recently, Authentic Journeys partnered with UST Global in Kochi to launch the 'Finishing School,' a US Cultural Awareness Program for offshore employees preparing to become temporary onsite expat assignees. This program, like cross-cultural programs in general fill many needs above and beyond learning about another culture. A few goals of this program as well as other cultural training programs include: 

1. To gain confidence in interacting with many kinds of people.

Cross-cultural trainings offer a context to another view of life. In this case, interactive sessions prepare the participants for building relationships with Americans through learning the cultural rules in professional environments for small talk, business conversation, corporate etiquette and other related topics.

2. To improve communication skills.
Effective American culture programs including this one prepare the participants to communicate casually and professionally. Such programs offer a glimpse into the do's and don'ts of small talk, where to use small talk, how to use small talk, and how to effectively communicate business concepts in a convincing and culturally appropriate way. While some of these concepts may appear to be common sense, several are based on cultural use of language. For instance, the importance of asking questions as a pleasantry is a common module in such sessions as in India English often is more direct than it is in the US with native speakers.

3. To help us find common ground, while appreciating diversity.
Culture strategy sessions not only expose to-be expats or onsite colleagues to learn about the expected differences, but also expose them to the similarities. Many breathe a sigh of relief when learning about things that are the same. Piecing together the differences, slight differences and similarities through simulations, mocks and role plays make the sessions much more interactive, problem solving and interesting.

4. To help us gain empathy and widen our world view.
It's only human nature to view the world through our own, often narrow lens. However, in cross-cultural brainstorming sessions, we learn how to widen our view point and patiently try to understand situations from other people's points of view. This builds empathy not only across cultures, but within dispersed teams and even within our own local team. Being empathetic, having an open mind, and listening to others improves communications regardless of the background of the person we are interacting with.

5. To expose ourselves to different problem solving techniques.
These cross-cultural skills are an asset. Dipping into our cross-cultural skills tool box at any given moment can allow us to take a step back, be objective, see things from other points of view and communicate about the problem and how to reach a solution in new and different ways. With continued exposure to diversity training and interacting with people from different walks of life, we can take a step back and try to analyze problems and find solutions that are creative and ‘out of the box’. Cross-cultural trainings can help us to see things from different perspectives, helping us learn more about the world, hence more about ourselves.

Summing Up:
Learning cross-cultural competency allows us to be gentler on ourselves and others, giving others more benefit of the doubt. We will, over time, approach more people and difficult situations with an open mind that is willing to view situations from many different angles. We will, over time, realize interactions become easier and less stressful as we gain confidence approaching others with respect, empathy, patience and care. Learning and applying lessons from cross cultural trainings break down stereotypes, increase understanding and promote goodwill.

Note: The "Finishing School" program developed by Authentic Journeys, a one day program, is available for your team! To learn more about this program, click here or contact Jennifer Kumar today.

Photos of participants in Authentic Journeys training programs since 2012.

Related Posts: 

Effectively switching from small talk to business conversation 
Non-technical training requirements for Indians working with foreigners 

Jennifer Kumar helps Indians work and communicate more effectively with Americans from India and within the US. 

Networked blogs link:

Authentic Journeys: Work Effectively With Americans

Do you work with Americans on a global, virtual team? At Authentic Journeys we help you build your context with American business culture when you work with Americans from outside the U.S.A. Follow our blog our get in touch with us for live, in-person online training programs to increase your business acumen with Americans today!