Cross-Cultural Communication


World Values Survey Map: an incredible long-running programme!

I was asked to create a cultural awareness and communication training for a group of technical experts who advise retail partners across EMEA, including some countries in Central Asia. Although team had not struggled with this significantly in the past, the team leader felt it was important to increase awareness of cultural differences and how these could impact even rather factual technical communication. The challenge is to telescope “awareness” of a rather broad concept down to how to transfer these behaviours once one goes back to work. We agreed this type of soft-skills training would best be conducted in a classroom to take advantage of the group dynamics. Please see the presentation here which I drafted to facilitate the session.

I used a few frameworks to discuss the idea of culture: The World Values Survey and Hofstede’s Dimensions of Culture. We explore a few typical scenarios at work to reflect on these models, and which dimensions seem to most impact communication. Then I rely heavily on inspiration from Richard D. Lewis’ classic book When Cultures Collide to talk about concrete behavioural differences in how people communicate. Again we talk about some scenarios. As a final exercise the learners are asked to reflect and share what concrete actions they can take away to their work.

My concern with this training is that it would be too “fluffy” for a group of technical experts. We reviewed it with a couple of them and they said the first part about what culture means was challenging to grasp, but otherwise they thought it would be helpful. One said it would even help his teammates to understand him a bit better! Unfortunately due to circumstances I wasn’t able to deliver this concept but maybe someday…