All posts by Tom Verghese

Micro-inequities Add Up

How often do you a halt a conversation, mid-flow to check your phone or reply to a text message? Ever thought about how actions like this impact the people around you? Tom Verghese explains micro-inequities. 

Let me ask you this question, how many of you have experienced one or more of the following scenarios:

  • You’re talking to someone and they’re looking at their watch while you’re sharing some information
  • You’re talking to someone and they’re texting on their phone
  • You’re talking to someone, the phone rings, they turn around and they have a long conversation with the other person on the phone while you’re just standing there?
  • How many of you have experienced being excluded from small talk?
  • How about someone passing you in the corridor of the office without speaking or saying “Hello” to you?
  • Have you ever had the experience of someone taking credit for your work?
  • How about someone constantly mispronouncing your name and not making any effort to get it right?
  • Or someone calling you a nickname without your permission?

All these are examples of what is known as micro-inequities. Micro-inequities is a term defined by Mary Rowe in the 1970s. They are defined as those subtle and disrespectful behaviours that exclude others. Sometimes they’re very difficult to recognise for both the person doing it and for the person receiving it. When you commit a micro-inequity you may only do one at a time and it may not have a big impact, but it is easy to imagine how over a period of time these individual behaviours can add up and have a significant impact. It’s like a drop of rain – if a drop of water hits you it probably won’t make a difference, but if drops of water hit you constantly it is certainly going to get you wet!

How do you become more aware of the impact of your behaviour?

The key issue here is how can each of us be more consciously aware about our behaviour and its impact on others? One way to address this question is to understand the idea of micro-affirmations. Micro-Affirmations are the opposite of micro-inequities and again are often the small and subtle behaviours that demonstrate inclusion.

One example of a micro-affirmation behaviour is inclusive verbal skills. When you’re leading a group discussion, make sure that you are involving everyone. Encourage contributions from everyone in the group, especially those who are quiet. There will always extroverts and introverts; extroverts are those who always have ideas to contribute to the meetings, and it’s easy if you are not being conscious to actually exclude the introverts. You may need to specifically ask the introverts for their ideas and input.

A second example is using non-verbal skills such as eye contact, smiling and nodding of the head. Acknowledge people when they speak up and say something, or make a contribution to the team. These micro-affirmations will lead to a greater sense of inclusion for all.

In today’s world of social media, it’s really tempting when you’re talking to someone to answer your phone or send a text. I’m not saying that you can’t ever do that, but I would challenge you to try to be conscious of what you are doing and its impact on others. It is not difficult to ask for permission to put a conversation on hold while you answer a phone call. Alternatively, have the phone on silent mode and focus and be present in that conversation.

The Importance of Strategic Thinking

“It is not enough to be busy… the question is: what are we busy about?” How do you find the time for valuable strategic thinking?

Last month, I ran a one-day workshop for senior leaders at a multinational organisation. One of the common themes that came up when we were establishing the ground rules for the session was the sense of “busyness” in the group. Many participants mentioned how “busy” they were and how it was not an ideal time for a full day workshop. Nevertheless, the workshop went very well and the level of input and engagement from the participants was high.

As a follow-up, I was debriefing the workshop with the participants yesterday. Their feedback about the session and its impact has been very insightful.

The Benefits of Strategic Thinking

One participant said she appreciated the time and space the session provided in order for her to slow down, think and reflect. She was able to move out of her “tactics” mindset and think more strategically. Another participant mentioned that he was able to step into a more strategic mindset and use the time to think about frameworks that will find alignment with everyone in his team. Others shared similar experiences. Participants realised that they were actually being busy for “busyness” sake, whereas what they were missing was the necessary time and space for valuable strategic thinking and consequently future planning. This is a key aspect of leadership.

As Henry David Thoreau wisely stated, “It is not enough to be busy… the question is: what are we busy about?” Strategic thinking examines and challenges the assumptions that exist around an organisation’s value proposition. It focuses on finding and developing unique opportunities to create value for an organisation. Being a strategic thinker can be difficult, but allocating time for the process is a crucial first step.

Strategic thinking is not only reserved for senior executives, it can, and should, happen at every level of an organisation. The important step is to accept that strategic thinking is part of your job and begin to focus on developing your abilities. Here are a few techniques to help you become a better strategic thinker:

Reflect

Make a commitment to slow down and do some focused thinking. One easy way to do this is to schedule a time every day or week to simply spend time thinking. It doesn’t have to be at work; it could be driving to work or going for a walk at lunch.

Broaden your horizons

Strategic thinking and curiosity are intrinsically linked. The more ideas and experiences you have, the more insights and connections you can make. Try to read about new ideas or new opinions, or explore new places to help stimulate the mind.

Step into others’ shoes

Discuss your ideas with other people. This is valuable because most likely the people around you think differently from you and can provide alternative perspectives to your ideas. Clients and customers also serve as a good source of inspiration for new ways of thinking.

Encourage others 

The more strategic minds generating ideas in an organisation, the better. One effective way to encourage staff to think strategically is to incorporate strategic thinking into their training and/or performance development plans.

Make decisions 

Strategy is not just about thinking, it is also about executing. Generating ideas is valuable, but it can go to waste if a decision is not make about what to do with them. This is where budgeting, time, money, resources, and prioritising come into focus.

Strategic thinking will make you a better leader. However, the ultimate value of strategic thinking is that it is looking out for the future of your organisation and its long-term success.

This article was oringally published on Cultural Synergies.

Why Fit In When You Were Born To Stand Out? : The Case for Workplace Diversity and Inclusion

There’s no question that diversity and inclusion is good for business. But, Tom Verghese explains why a new approach is needed. 

As part of the Bravo campaign, Procurious will be hearing from a number of high profile procurement leaders on the topics of diversity, equality and women in procurement.

Diversity in our workplaces is important. It’s widely acknowledged that diversity in our leadership teams matters. It’s imperative for any organisation that wants to achieve and remain competitive. Diversity helps to generate new ideas, drive creativity, and meet market needs; it also reflects our own communities. While the benefits are many and varied I want to draw your attention to a recent body of research ‘Diversity Matters’ conducted by McKinsey & Company.

Diversity Matters Study

One of the key findings from this study is that companies in the top quartile of gender diversity were 15 per cent more likely to have financial returns above their national industry median.

The authors contend, based on other studies and the correlation in this study between diversity and performance, that the more diverse an organisation is the more successful they are at winning top talent, customer orientation, employee satisfaction and effective decision-making.

While this research paper found that no organisation performed well in all areas of diversity (it is a very select few who do) it highlights the ongoing demand for diversity training programs.

Diversity policies and approaches tend to be country specific. However, traditionally the common approach in countries such as the UK, U.S and Australia has been to adopt a single diversity program that covers all areas from gender and age, to race, ethnicity, sex, religion and disability.

I contend that one of the problems with this approach is that some more visible areas of diversity such as gender, have received more focus than others, namely race and ethnicity.

A new approach to diversity is needed

A new mindset and approach to diversity needs to occur. The overall current characterisation and management of diversity is too broad, it commands greater depth.  In other words, a more individualised, tailored approach is required, it needs to be ‘unbundled’.

At the same time, I would go one step further and posit that diversity in any organisation or workplace cannot be fully realised without an equal and complementary focus on inclusion.

The challenge of inclusion is not in producing a diverse workplace; diversity is rather the natural outcome of inclusion. If we define diversity as all the ways we are different – that which is the human condition, then inclusion is our ability to value, recognise and appreciate these differences.

It is possible for organisations to hire a diverse workforce, however, without the necessary corresponding inclusion policies.

We see ‘in’ and ‘out’ groups start to form and those in the ‘out’ groups (typically those people who find themselves in a demographic minority) less likely to stay in their roles.

Attraction and retention are equally important partners in any organisation’s D&I journey; they must therefore be given equal effort and intent. If we focus back on our gender example, inclusion on a basic level means making women feel welcome and valued in the workplace. This can be reflected in policies such as: flexible work arrangements for men and women, allowance for career breaks, available role models, mentoring opportunities, and affinity groups.

It is worth noting that these types of policies will differ across different societies or cultures. Organisations that work across borders must consequently be aware and knowledgeable of these implications.

Managing a diverse organisation

Diversity and Inclusion is not an easy undertaking. Managing a diverse organisation is far more difficult than managing a homogenous one, and it requires a completely different skillset.

Leaders must step up to the challenge and in many cases push past the latent philosophy of maintaining status quo – the ‘why change something if it is not broken’ attitude we all too often still see represented in the homogenous recruitment policies of organisations.

Specific programmes that develop, monitor and promote ongoing continuous improvement need to be implemented.

Some examples are unconscious bias training, cultural intelligence training, mentoring, or executive coaching. These programs provide greater rigour, understanding and appreciation that make real headway into changing attitudes, behaviours and outcomes.

Why, What and How?

In conclusion, I would like to put forward three questions organisations can ask in order to pursue an integrated approach to Diversity and Inclusion (D&I):

  • WHY – Organisations must establish the reasons why D&I is important for them
  • WHAT – Organisations must educate their leaders on D&I, bias and its impact on decision-making
  • HOW – Organisations must examine the policies, procedures and processes that systematically re-enforce the current state

Further to improving diversity and inclusion, organisations and their leaders must visibly demonstrate that they believe in the value of D&I and assert why it is a priority in a manner that influences, promotes and inspires others to also commit.

As the authors of ‘Diversity Matters’ point out we “must do more to take full advantage of the opportunity that diverse leadership teams represent… we live in a global world that has become deeply interconnected.” This research serves as an ongoing reminder of the headway that we have made to date in countries such as the U.S and U.K in diversity. But it also highlights the benefits to be gained and that there is still much work to be done.

Join the women in procurement conversation in the Procurious Bravo group. 

Dealing with Diversity – The Importance of Cultural Intelligence

Do you have the cultural savvy it takes to be considered a global player? The one characteristic that global procurement professionals need is cultural intelligence.

tom-verghese

When we are procuring domestically, we don’t think about our own culture. It isn’t until we are procuring and dealing with people of different cultures around the world that we have to think and function with a global mindset.

Culture is reflected in what is considered normal. It is tacit. We don’t think about it on a conscious level, but when we step out of our familiar cultural environments, culture does matter and we do notice it.

One of the biggest challenges when procuring across cultures is that we often have expectations that other people are similar to us and that they ‘play by the same ground rules.’ These are dangerous assumptions.

Defining Cultural Intelligence

Cultural Intelligence (CQ) is the ability to work effectively across cultures. CQ supports global leaders in their cross-cultural interactions, providing greater insights and understandings into the behaviours, values and attitudes of others from a cultural perspective.

Cultural Intelligence consists of four components:

1. CQ Drive – The interest, motivation and confidence to adapt to a multicultural situation. It consists of intrinsic (i.e. meaningful work) and extrinsic interests (i.e. financial rewards), and the drive to learn and understand different cultures, their norms and behaviours

2. CQ Knowledge – Understanding cultural similarities and differences. This includes knowledge of the values, norms and practices in different cultural settings.

3. CQ Strategy – Awareness and ability to plan for multicultural interactions. It incorporates how we apply our CQ Knowledge insights. For example, checking assumptions and observations, and engaging in active inquiry when interacting with people of different cultures.

4. CQ Skills – The ability to appropriately adapt verbal and non-verbal communication in cross-cultural situations, including how well we can adapt when things don’t go according to plan.

Strategies for improving CQ Drive:

  • Take some unconscious bias tests and seek feedback.
  • Identify your passions and why you care about them.
  • Reflect on what guides and influences your behaviours and attitudes toward culturally diverse groups.
  • Welcome opportunities to mentor others as a ‘cultural broker.’

Strategies for improving your CQ Knowledge:

  • Choose a culture that interests you. Read a novel, magazine or local newspaper from an overseas site, or an author native to that country.
  • Listen to overseas radio programmes.
  • Visit culturally significant places to learn more about them. For example, a mosque, synagogue or sporting venue.
  • Visit art galleries or museums that display stories and artworks from other countries. These help you to gain a deeper understanding of why and how they were created and their cultural significance
  • Continuously observe body language, facial expressions, gestures when you are interacting with people of different cultural backgrounds
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. People love to talk about their culture. This can also be a great way to build relationships.

Strategies for improving CQ Strategy:

  • Practice detaching yourself from the situation and observing. You will be more impartial and less judgemental. You will see and hear the things that are not being said.
  • Practice pausing. Pause and reflect on what you believe is occurring, how you are experiencing the moment, and how you feel, and then make the necessary adjustments.
  • Observe your own behaviours and emotions when you are in different cultural settings, such as what you are thinking and feeling.
  • Learn basic small talk, norms and appropriate social behaviours that are culturally appropriate.

Strategy for improving CQ Skills:

  • Pay attention to hierarchy.
  • Learn some basic language. For example, sorry, thank you, greetings, etc.
  • Spend time planning how you are going to act, react and manage your own expectations, and those of others during conversations.
  • Modify your tone and speed of speech according to your observations and language competency of the receiver.

So, what will your strategy be to improve your Cultural Intelligence, and build your global effectiveness?

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Navigating Rule Based Cultures

When dealing with different or rule based cultures, it’s important to remain mindful of differences, so as to avoid misunderstandings.

Rule Based Cultures

Last month I had an assignment in Japan.  On our first night in town, five colleagues and myself met in the bar of a major hotel where we had planned to have a pre-dinner drink and decide on a dinner location.

Upon arrival, we ordered our drinks and were each served a very small bowl of nuts. After a brief discussion, and review of the hotel menu, it was decided that we would eat at the hotel restaurant.  Given that we didn’t have to travel anywhere for dinner, we decided to spend a bit more time relaxing and catching up before heading to the restaurant.

One of my colleagues politely asked the barman for a second bowl of nuts, to which the barman replied, “No, it is only one bowl per drink.” After some discussion it was clear that the barman was not going to bend the rules, there wasn’t going to be a second bowl of nuts unless a second drink was ordered.

In response to this inflexibility, we decided against having another drink and eating dinner at the hotel restaurant.  Following our earlier conversation with the restaurant manager regarding the menu, on our departure he questioned why we were leaving.

We told him of our reason for leaving, to which he was very apologetic, thanked us for the feedback and then proceeded to escort us to the concierge, while also suggesting other local restaurants.

His friendly manner persuaded us to dine at one of the other restaurants within the hotel. We appreciated his demeanour and kind generosity – providing our table with a surprise complimentary bottle of wine.

Appreciate the Differences

The point of this story is to emphasise the differences of rule based cultures, that some cultures are bound by rules, formalities and regulations more than others. This doesn’t make one better than the other, more rude or generous than another, it just makes them different.

We need to understand and appreciate these differences. In the moment they may seem significant or even pedantic but their effects can be long reaching and detrimental toward future relationships, behaviours, attitudes and biases.

Strong rule based cultures tend to encourage conformity, embracing the status quo, while other cultures tolerate greater degrees of flexibility and adaptability.

The key to successfully navigating, working and interacting within and across cultures is to understand that these traits are often hidden, unspoken, understated characteristics that are bound up in the unspoken cultural rules, expectations, systems and processes.

Reflection and Mindfulness

They can appear when you are engaging in cross-cultural social and professional interactions i.e. different expectations and formalities of hierarchical and equality based structures, during negotiations, navigating through ambiguous, tense situations or when establishing and maintaining trusted working relationships with internal and external stakeholders.

The barman serving us was not rude, rather he was efficiently performing his job, behaving in a manner that was appropriate for a barman in his role, respecting the rules and processes of his job. Our observations and expectations of the barman’s behaviour and attitude were considered through our own cultural lenses.

This example highlights how interpretations of social rules and behaviours can quickly become construed as impolite, disrespectful and inappropriate. Reflection and mindfulness are valuable skills, especially when interacting with differences of any kind!

Dr. Tom Verghese is the Founder and Principal Consultant at Cultural Synergies, a leading global intercultural and diversity consultancy that specialises in developing and sustaining cultural intelligence.

Braving the Cross-Cultural Humour Divide

Humour can help to diffuse tension, break the ice or create camaraderie. However, frequently humour can get lost in translation when crossing the cultural divide.

Stand-Up-Comedy

After Christmas I enjoyed a short holiday on the Great Ocean Road, Victoria with my family. As we were enjoying a walk along one of the many beaches I couldn’t help but overhear a largely Asian tour group meandering along the beach close by.

I overheard the tour guide tell a joke. To me the joke sounded quite amusing, but judging by the immediate reaction (or rather lack of) of his tour group, not many other people did! Aside from a few polite giggles there was mostly silence and looks of confusion. My immediate thought was that people probably didn’t understand the joke. Maybe there were language and accent difficulties, humour differences, etc.

Cross-Cultural Challenges

Humour across cultures is very difficult. Aside from the lack of a shared background, there are many subtle nuances, common phrases and local references in humour and joke telling that can very easily fall flat when told to foreigners.

When we engage in humour, we unconsciously make assumptions that our audience/s are similar to ourselves and will therefore receive the humour in a manner that we intend it to be heard.

There is no doubt that communicating humour is one of the most difficult cross-cultural communication challenges that exists. In countries such as Japan, humour rarely crosses hierarchical borders and wouldn’t be appropriate in formal contexts; in other cultures such as Australia, humour can be appropriate in these settings and viewed as a means of reducing tension and balancing power inequities.

Humour Tips

So how do we know if our humour will be received as funny, misunderstood or offensive in the context of no shared knowledge and background with our audience? Here are some basic guidelines:

  • It is essential that you have a high level of cultural and language awareness, sensitivity and understanding
  • As a general guide, I recommend avoiding sarcasm and jokes, rather wit and self-deprecation can often be safer options
  • Observe others – how they deliver and receive humour. Take note of the context, seniority, facial expressions, body language, etc.

I often remind my expat coaching clients that when they find themselves understanding local humour and sharing in it, they are well on their way to true cultural immersion.

Although there are cultural barriers to the shared understanding of humour, keep in mind that even within our own cultures what is considered funny and not funny vary enormously. I admired the tour guide I mentioned earlier because although his joke may not have received many laughs, he was brave enough to have a go. I would guess that he probably had some insight that the content couldn’t be offensive and was making a genuine attempt to create a relaxed, light-hearted environment for the group.

While we need to be cautious when using humour in cross-cultural settings, I urge you to not be too discouraged because humour can be a great way to build relationships and begin to really understand your cross-border colleagues and clients.

How Productive Are Your Teleconferences?

A recent project has prompted me to focus this month on the efficiencies of teleconferences. 

2015TC

Lack of agendas, side conversations, inaudible background noises, late attendees, accent and language difficulties, alongside poorly facilitated calls that seem to go in circles, are just some of the everyday teleconference challenges.

Although teleconferences are not a new phenomenon, somehow we tolerate the inefficiencies and frustrations that they entail.  Why is this?  Over time we become unconscious and unmindful of the bad habits and irritations that ‘creep in’. We often accept them as ‘normal’ and for the most part we ‘switch off’ and allow apathy and stagnation to set in, without us possibly even realising it.

For many global project teams teleconferences are the most common meeting format. They are a critical mode of communication where key decisions are made and everyday production, innovative and creative ideas are thrashed out. Something worth reminding ourselves of is that the success of teleconferences directly impact overall project outcomes, timelines and ultimately budgets.

Preparing Your Teleconference

Here are some simple reminders of things to be aware of when facilitating and participating in culturally dispersed teleconferences:

  • Ensure that the agenda has been circulated at least 24 hours prior to the meeting

It is particularly useful for those in other locations whose native language is not the language that the meeting is being conducted in.  This provides all participants an opportunity to plan what they will say or questions that they want to propose.

  • Be mindful of the dynamic

When most of the participants are in the same room it can be difficult for the remote participants to engage in the conversation.  They are not privy to the same group/room dynamic.

  • Be mindful of different cultures

Remember that in some cultures people wait to be invited to speak rather than speak up whenever they have something to contribute. Be specific and invite people to speak at various intervals.

  • Ensure everyone identifies who they are before they begin speaking

Don’t assume that everyone knows each other.  It is not uncommon for offshore project teams to have new staff joining the team at different times. Maintain the practice of introductions at all meetings.

  • Use diagrams and visual aids where possible

They can be of great benefit as an alternative mode of demonstration and explanation, especially for offshore teams.

  • Ensure Understanding

If you are having difficulty understanding language, accents, dialects or tone, speak up. Let people know.  Chances are that they are having difficulty understanding you also.

  • Don’t confuse silence with agreement

Take the time to ask each person one by one to give their opinion or share their concerns before making a consensus decision.

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Correct Pronunciation Matters

Correct Pronunciation Matters

How often do you meet a new person and have difficulty remembering their name?

What do you do when you can’t pronounce a name?

How do you ask a person how to pronounce their name without coming across as rude?

These questions came to mind as I was working with a mining organisation last week. I met a South African person who came to Australia a few years ago to work on a Queensland mine.  His name is spelt as ‘Dawid’ and pronounced as ‘Dahwid’.  Shortly after arriving in Australia Dawid realised that his colleagues were referring to him as ‘David’ in their verbal and more formal communications.  Dawid gave his name great thought, questioning whether he should simply change his name to David to make life easier for those around him and to assist him to ‘fit in’ to life in Australia.

As our lives become more globalised we find ourselves encountering people with unfamiliar names more and more.  Correct pronunciation and remembering unfamiliar names can be both challenging and anxiety provoking; it isn’t as though we can turn to a dictionary or ask others for help when we are ‘in the moment’.

Correct pronunciation of names demonstrates respect and cultural awareness, it can guide our first impressions, judgements and biases.  Foreign names, differing order of names, multiple family names, accents and dialects are just some of the name challenges that we need to successfully navigate.

Some name pronunciation tips are:

  • When you are initially introduced, try to use the name within the first few minutes of your meeting.  Ask the person to correct you if you mispronounce their name.
  • Keep your tone casual and friendly if you are making corrections.
  • When you find yourself wanting to correct a mispronunciation, try simply restating your name. It will assist the other party to remember and correct any mistakes on their behalf.
  • Remember that your name is possibly equally as difficult for them to pronounce, so help them. Give your name phonetically, as well as the spelling and remind them that they should feel free to ask you for any help remembering or pronouncing your name.
  • Show curiosity.  Ask people the story of their names.  In many cultures names have a meaningful background and are steeped in tradition. Not only does this create a dialogue but it will also help you to recall their name in the future.
  • Speak up early if you have trouble.  If you can’t pronounce or remember a name don’t let time pass; remember it becomes even more difficult as time goes on.

As Dawid decided to keep his birth name, he highlighted to me the impact that the mispronunciation of his name had for him.  Mispronunciation can appear insignificant on the surface, but can have far reaching consequences that you may never be aware of.  Be mindful that expectations, bias and credibility can all be damaged by name mispronunciation. The reality is that we are never going to pronounce names correctly all of the time, and occasionally we will forget a person’s name; but by demonstrating our efforts through some simple questions and behaviours we have a better chance of succeeding.  This can go a long way to improving first impressions and long-term relations.

How to secure trust when procuring across borders

Securing trust when procuring across borders

Trust is the foundation of all good relationships. When sourcing across borders and cultures, the key variable between a successful and unsuccessful procurement strategy is trust. Trust includes reliability, truth, honesty, credibility, competency and predictability. If it is absent, commitment wanes and frustrations, misunderstandings and missed opportunities ensue.

Procuring across borders: Do you have trust on your side?

All cultures value trust, the difference lies in how it is developed, sustained and repaired – or not. Although some of the strategies for building and maintaining trust are universal such as delivering on what you promise, there are others that are culturally specific; there is no ‘one size fits all’, particularly in terms of relationship-based cultures. There are both subtle and comprehensive differences between countries such as India and China, Australia and Germany for example.

The necessity for establishing trust when procuring across national borders include the following:

  • Tap into and connect with new markets
  • Increased reliability of people ‘on the ground’
  • Increased brand loyalty within new markets
  • Increased speed and on-time delivery
  • Greater sharing of knowledge and expertise
  • Focus and commitment especially when things go wrong

We intuitively know the common beliefs and values that are held in our local markets; such as the appropriate balance of personal versus business conversations, appropriate and inappropriate behavior, how to address people and so on. But the rules change instantaneously as we pick up the phone or engage in meetings or teleconferences that involve crossing cultures and borders. In this moment we need a heightened level of awareness and flexibility in order to adapt our communication and behavioural styles to ensure that they are appropriate to that current cultural setting. This new cultural setting may even occur without you leaving your office.

Strong, trusted relationships with local people provide many opportunities, one of which is a ‘right-hand’ person.  They offer not only greater access to understanding your customer/client base, their needs, preferences and desires; but also can be a valuable sounding board for cultural knowledge and etiquette. Local contacts can act as intermediaries, performing a significant role in establishing trust amongst local suppliers through introductions. They can open doors, offer connections within local networks and ‘lend their reputation’ to build trust with others. 

Strategies for Building Trust Across Cultures:

  • Be open to new experiences and situations.
  • Be prepared to have personal discussions about family etc; sometimes your conversations may not include work discussions at all.
  • Provide as much data and information as possible when working in unfamiliar cultures.
  • Spend some time learning about the culture. Read local newspapers, and make extra time for personal conversations.
  • Listen…especially to the tone of voice, to what is not being said and to the contexts of the conversations.
  • Pay attention to the non-verbal communication such as eye gaze, postures, tone of voice etc.
  • Consider finding an intermediary or go-between person. They can be valuable in terms of tapping into local networks, industries and introductions.
  • Engage in some cultural intelligence training.