Communicating with Different Cultures … and what I have learned!

Author: Edgardo Silva, Marketing Intern

As a cabin crew member, I discovered that it is possible to wake up in one city and go to bed in a completely different one. But above all, I realized that understanding cultural differences is something we never stop learning.

No matter if we are used to interacting with content from all over the world, no matter how many times you have seen the Eiffel Tower in movies, when you see it in person your heart beats differently. It is impossible to predict how you are going to behave.

So, after much thought, I wanted to write this to tell you how you can prepare yourself to face these differences, and here are some tips that I have found to help me:

Take the time to study the other culture first

When you are interacting with someone from a different culture, it is important to take the time to learn about their culture first. This will help you to avoid misunderstandings and to build stronger relationships. You can read books and articles, watch movies and TV shows, or travel to experience it firsthand. Keep in mind it is important to be respectful of other cultures’ customs and beliefs.

Observe the behaviour of the other person/team (e.g., in Zoom calls)

It can be helpful to pay attention to things like body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice. You can also try to learn about the cultural background of the people you are speaking with. This information can help you to interpret their actions and to communicate more effectively.

Beware of language differences

Even among native speakers of the language, there are variations in the meaning of some words. To some people, it might mean something good, and yet it could be offensive to others.

Pay attention to the differences in body language between cultures.

I was on my first trip to India, and I was trying to book a hotel room. I called the hotel, and the employee on the other end of the line was very polite. When I hung up the phone, I was excited because I thought that I had successfully booked a room. However, when I arrived at the hotel, they told me that they didn’t have any rooms available. I was confused and asked them what had happened.

The hotel manager explained that in India, it is common for people to nod and make affirmative sounds even if they don’t agree with what you are saying. This is a way of showing respect and understanding. He said that the employee on the phone had been nodding and making affirmative sounds because he understood what I was saying, but he had not actually agreed to book me a room because of the availability.

I was disappointed, but this experience taught me to be more aware of cultural differences and to be more careful about how I interpret people’s nonverbal communication.

From my extensive travels, I have learned that the exchange of business cards is not the same around the world. For example, in Japan, you normally bow, hand over the card with both hands and wait for the other person to take the card with both hands and take a moment to read it. In contrast, in the UK business cards are simply placed on the meeting table. There is no doubt that the ways of doing business vary vastly from one culture to another.

It is important that we adapt to what is needed to achieve our goals.

I also suggest organizing a cross-cultural awareness program in your company. This is a great way to provide training to your team on greetings, etiquette, dining customs, successful interactions, and more. An increasingly used and essential initiative in the business world.

IN CONCLUSION: The Eiffel Tower will look wonderful in person (I promise you that). So, prepare yourself for it because you should remember that YOUR PERCEPTION is what will make it amazing.

DREAM BIG and have a great week!!

About the Author

Edghar Silva is a digital content creator and graphic designer.
Originally from Cordoba, Argentina, Edghar studied Accountancy, Digital Marketing and Copywriting. His passion for art led him to pursue a career as a freelance creator, where he has honed his skills and created amazing work for clients. For the past 7 years, he has been living and working in Dubai, where he continues to create engaging digital content.

Susannah Mathieson

Susie (MBA), is an experienced Sales Trainer and Coach with more than 20 years in selling and sales leadership roles. She is passionate about helping sales people reach their sales potential by empowering them to think for themselves and giving them the tools they need to be successful. She decided to use her expertise and experience to set up the small stuff in March 2019. Her mission is to support sales teams and companies achieve their goals and grow their income. As a trainer and coach with a focus on sales training, employee motivation and team building, she is responsible for the development and execution of sales training and the implementation of employee development & coaching plans. Susie has excellent powers of observation, combined with a patient, yet clear coaching style which brings out the best in individuals and groups. She believes in empowering sales teams to understand, adjust and then execute improvements for success!

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