Embracing Interculturalism: How to Build Skills for Cross-Cultural Teamwork

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In our ever-connected global landscape, the ability to work effectively with individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds has become a key differentiator of professionalism and competence. To thrive in cross-cultural environments, organizations must prioritize the development of skills that enhance communication, collaboration, and understanding. This blog post explores methods for building these skills and empowering your employees and managers to succeed within cross-cultural teams. Whether collaborating on large-scale projects, communicating within global teams, or building working relationships, these learnable and teachable culture skills will propel your organization toward success.

Cultivate Cultural Awareness and Understanding

Before putting anything into practice, it is crucial to grasp the intricate dynamics and communication styles in different cultures. People leaders and Employee Resource Group (ERG) leaders are vital in supporting employees and managers to learn these skills. By becoming knowledgeable about various cultures, values, customs, and communication styles, community leaders help bridge gaps and foster meaningful connections with team members from diverse backgrounds. ERGs serve as valuable resources in building cultural awareness across the organization. Events supporting DEI Heritage Months and cultural awareness days provide excellent opportunities for celebration and learning. Emtrain’s comprehensive guide on DEI Heritage Months can further enrich your cultural awareness journey.

Framing Cross-Cultural Communication

Think of a time when someone pointed out someone’s mistake during a team meeting. How do you think that person felt? How did it affect the group? For some, such actions show integrity. However, for others, it can be viewed as deeply shameful, affecting their reputation and “losing face.”

To ensure effective cross-cultural communication, we must practice the art of framing. By framing our conversations and requests that align with cultural expectations and needs, employees and managers can better support every employee. Framing is a way to convey the meaning and importance of something by presenting it in a positive light. To save face, one would frame a message using words that positively support a person’s social status and reputation. Showing your appreciation, allowing time for stakeholders to make decisions, and preserving their pride wherever possible are some best practices to save face. 

Giving Direct and Indirect Feedback 

Feedback cultivates a strong team, providing opportunities for employee growth and improvement. When working with global teams, how we provide feedback is particularly important. Cultural dynamics and differing communication styles often make giving and receiving feedback challenging. 

For instance, some cultures value direct and critical feedback, while others prefer more indirect and nuanced feedback. Often, the feedback sandwich may be appreciated by some cultures, which entails giving a compliment, then feedback, then another compliment. However, it may be misunderstood by those accustomed to more direct feedback. 

Understanding and accommodating different cultures’ feedback preferences can create an environment that respects diverse needs and values. Employees can learn to observe their colleague’s communication styles and adjust to accommodate their needs. This approach enables employees to adapt their communication styles and foster a culture of effective feedback exchange.

Your Toolkit to Build Skills in Cross-Cultural Teamwork 

Emtrain’s microlessons create awareness of cultural differences and teach specific actions to practice so employees can learn to adapt their communication style for better teamwork and results seamlessly.

Now available for a free preview, Emtrain’s Global Mindset skill-building microlesson series teaches employees and managers how to:

How can managers use the content? 

The Global Mindset microlesson series teaches the skill of Embracing Interculturalism, the attitudes, knowledge, and behaviors that lead to effective and appropriate communication with people of other cultures. People and team managers can leverage these microlessons as a resource:

  1. Before kicking off international projects, setting the stage for successful cross-cultural collaboration from the start.
  2. As teams embark on building new processes, ensure cultural considerations are integrated.
  3. When conflict arises within cross-functional teams, it facilitates understanding and resolution.
  4. After finishing projects, incorporate the microlessons into debriefing processes or post-mortems.
  5. When addressing issues during or after completed projects, leveraging the microlessons to navigate cultural nuances and find practical solutions.

Organizations can forge stronger connections, foster collaboration, and achieve remarkable success by cultivating cultural awareness, framing our communication, and adapting feedback styles. Empower your employees and managers with Emtrain’s Global Mindset microlesson series and build a more effective, inclusive cross-cultural environment for all.

If you’d like to learn more about our training content and how to incorporate these lessons into your training program, book a free demo or contact us at sales@emtrain.com

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Hassina Obaidy

Hassina Obaidy

Product Marketing Manager | EmtrainRead full bio

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