This is a question I get every time I meet someone new and they ask me what I do. Mostly, people assume that cross-cultural training is teaching people how to use chopsticks, or how to bow appropriately when exchanging business cards with a Korean.
When I first moved to Australia, I remember saying to someone that I was really having a difficult time adjusting to Australian culture. “Don’t be silly!” she responded. “Australians don’t have culture!”.
While this is really funny on a couple of levels, most of the time, people have a difficult time understanding what culture is, never mind being able to understand what the training is all about. So what is cross-cultural training?
It is training people to understand the worldviews of those from different countries;
It is teaching people to better understand the motives and desires of different people and that these might be very different from your own;
It is teaching people to examine the deeper reasons behind the way we behave;
It is helping people to understand how to build trust with clients and colleagues from other cultures that you have to work with;
It is teaching leaders how to be flexible and effectively lead a multi-cultural and diverse team;
It helping people to understand why people from other cultures get emotional about things that we wouldn’t consider important;
It is helping people understand that very strange things can be done for perfectly reasonably motives that have nothing to do with wanting to harm or cause trouble;
It is training people to better ensure that their message correctly gets through when communicating with people from other cultures;
It is enabling people to see the world as it is and not be frightened by the differences;
It is NOT just about learning a new language.
It is NOT just about learning to eat like a native of a different country.
It is NOT just about learning to avoid offensive behaviour.
It is NOT just about learning actions and gestures that copy the behaviour of others.
It is NOT just about “do’s and don’ts” of particular countries.
It is learning to step into the shoes of someone who is different to you.
Almost always, people who complete our training courses exclaim – “Wow! I didn’t know such a thing existed and I can see now that this knowledge is essential for me to work successfully in a global economy!
If you don’t know what you don’t know, get in touch with me and let’s talk……..