If your team works across cultures, you may have pondered reasons your team needs cross-cultural training. We have provided cross-culture training, global business coaching, destination services and a myriad of other virtual team building solutions to over 4,500 professionals on international teams since 2011. The excitement during the sessions is only surpassed by some of the encouraging feedback we have received. Based on this feedback, I am sharing a few reasons professionals found cross-cultural training not only a value add or something ‘nice’ to have, but a good return on their investment of time and cost.
1. To gain confidence in interacting with a wide variety of people.
A few years after presenting a program on Hosting US Clients in India, a team member from Allianz, Trivandrum contacted me to express how the training benefited them.
The skills I learned in how to approach people from different countries not only helped me in working with foreign clients in Allianz, but now that I have started my own business, where I interact with foreign tourists in Kerala all day, I realized how your session has helped me to communicate and approach people from all walks of life with more ease. Thank you!
I was so humbled by this. I feel cross-cultural trainings offer a context to another view of life. In this case, though the training program focused on interacting with American clients, this particular delegate was able to transfer this same communication and behavioral skills to effectively interacting with a diverse set of individuals from a wide variety of countries.
2. To improve communication skills.
After a mid-level manager returned to India from Ireland, he shared how our one on one business coaching prepared him for a successful onsite visit and expat assignment,
Helping me to understand a ‘Western’ approach to business communications and presentations helped me to convince my counterparts to work with my team long term. More than the business end of our coaching sessions, the mock question and answer sessions and small talk conversations helped me to build relationships above and beyond the presentation delivery. Of course, the Irish have a different accent than you (as an American), which was intimidating. But our coaching around being patient, listening and being open helped me to slow down my own thinking so I could listen to them better. In fact, due to that, listening to their accents was not as much of a stumbling block as I initially thought it would be!
Culture and language programs that have the greatest impact highlight the cultural use of language. 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.
I was surprised to hear that Americans DO make small talk. That was a relief for me. But, of course, once we learned some of the ways Americans approach small talk differently in casual and business conversations, this gave us even more confidence in handling a wide variety of situations.
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 worldview.
After mediating my discussions with my developer in India, I was able to better understand his point of view. Also, our coaching had helped me also appreciate my point of view as a Dutch person. Because of your mediation and coaching, our communication became so much more easier. Your sessions proved to be a good return on investment.
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 viewpoint 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 improve communications regardless of the background of the person we are interacting with.
5. To expose ourselves to different problem-solving techniques.
After sitting in your business coaching session, we understood what motivates Americans in everyday negotiation situations, such as how to extend our deadlines. Now that we can appreciate this more from their point of view, we have learned how to handle ourselves with more ease when having these difficult discussions.
These cross-cultural skills are an asset. Dipping into our cross-cultural skills toolbox 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’. One can argue that we need cross-cultural training to help us to see things from different perspectives, help us learn more about the world, hence more about ourselves.
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.
Would you like to experience the business and personal outcomes of cross-cultural business training and coaching? Contact us today!
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