Communicating across cultures matt cobb

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  • 1. Finpro Market Opportunity Day Communicating Across Cultures Matt Cobb 22nd October 2013
  • 2. Complexity Backgrounds Thinking Interaction Work patterns Behaviours Motivators
  • 3. Era of Cs  Communication  Complexity  Collaboration  Cultures  Co-creation  Change  Community  Chance  Cooperation  Confusion  Competence  Chaos  Commitment  Competition
  • 4. Agenda What is culture? Who am I? Who are you? Who are we?
  • 5. What is Culture? dress arts food media festivals language time trust norms values communication ethics
  • 6. What influences who you are? National Regional Professional / Educational Gender Class Religion Generation Ethnicity Corporate Personal
  • 7. Significant Link Between Culture and Business Core beliefs and values influence:  outlook and world view  communication styles  concepts of space and time  attitudes to authority and leadership  notions of team-work  motivation factors
  • 8. Communicating Across Cultures
  • 9. Effective intercultural communicator (I) Titles, greetings Tuning into the other person Content/topics - suitability - Communication style Directness, indirectness - Cultural background Handling opinions - Knowledge level Interrupting (or not!) - Prejudices, baggage Showing interest, follow-up Q’s - Sensitivities Giving something of yourself? - Intelligence level Ego control, not showing off - Professional background Giving compliments - Interests & non-interests Congratulating and commiserations Listening/speaking balance
  • 10. Effective intercultural communicator (II) Delivery Listening skills - Considerate - Concentration level, focus - Speed, accent - Acknowledge - Slang, vocabulary choice - Own filters - Clarity - Reading between the lines - No irritators - Limited ’fillers’ Positive, level of enthusiam Smiles (cultural level) (Appearance)
  • 11. Effective intercultural communicator (III) Avoiding contentious issues - ask questions, listen - avoid own opinions - generalise, be vague - perspective, history - not informed - 3rd party ’blame’ - be measured - opinions as facts (NO) - not putting someone in a difficult position (giving face)
  • 12. British “Hmm, that’s a very interesting idea.”
  • 13. USA “You gotta be kidding.”
  • 14. India “I will try”
  • 15. German » “I don’t agree”
  • 16. French “I don’t see the logic in your argument!”
  • 17. Italian “Let’s go and have a Campari and talk about it tomorrow.”
  • 18. Japanese “I agree.”
  • 19. Swedish “Let’s arrange another meeting.”
  • 20. Finnish “…………………”
  • 21. Managing Stereotypes  Accurate  Be consciously aware of them  Describe, do not judge  Be ready to revise them  Initial preparation for what you MIGHT face  Be ready to abandon them!! National culture is still a useful level of analysis
  • 22. Cross-cultural communication – stages (I) 1. Pre-contact 2. Reputation 3. Arrangements
  • 23. Pre-contact Do some thinking / your reseach!  Which context, place, situation?  Who should be involved (from your perspective)?  Who needs to be involved (from theirs!)?  How can you get information about the people involved?  Cultural factors at this stage: attitudes to status, working roles, time, efficiency, deadlines
  • 24. Reputation (& trust)  You, your team, your organisation, country  Cumulative, easily lost / destroyed  Great asset (culturally) – means you have a better (or worse!) chance of being trusted at the start  Positive referral by trusted source?  Introduction by trusted 3rd party  Cultural factors at this stage: stereotypes, status, hierarchy, relationship vs. professional orientation
  • 25. Arrangements - planning  Timing, dates – sensitivity (national holidays, busy periods, lucky/unlucky dates)  Communication channels (email, phone, face-toface, virtual)  Cultural factors at this stage: amount of time allocated, getting confirmation, data vs. dialogue orientation, motivation factors
  • 26. Cross-cultural communication – situations 1. Manners and taboos 2. Meetings 3. Presentations 4. Negotiations
  • 27. Manners, taboos and culture Greetings, titles, handshakes Introductions Directness/indirectness Criticism Time-keeping, punctuality Body language, eye contact Professional – personal topics Class rules Social events: fomality, informality Hosting and toasting Sensitive conversation topics (religion, politics, history) Gifts Boasting Colours & numbers Phones Dress codes Smoking
  • 28. Meetings and culture Communication style Body language, eye contact Speech – content, type, facts, opinions, verbal/non-verbal, Low/high context, pauses, silence, direct/indirect, challenging? (intellectually or emotionally) View of time (speed of process, thinking, planning, action), timing, punctuality, breaks Hierarchy and status, WHO is there? Professional and personal time – separate or overlapping? Protocol, procedures Storytelling, sayings, proverbs Agenda, order Preparedness Facts, data Paper, slides, speech? Relationships Dress, formality Roles & value – expert? Experience? Decision-making – individual, collective, now/later?
  • 29. Presentations and culture Communication style (as before) (organisation/team culture) Listening habits How is a presentation ’seen’? •Facts, data, figures, research? •Use of words, language and oratorical skills? •Language skills, listening skills •Concentration span, length? •Cultural sensitivity •Information giving? •Interactive? •Persuading, motivating? •Selling, influencing? •Impress with charisma? •Part of longer relationship? Formality Dress, personal impressions Structured, flexible? Handouts, slides, flipchart Timing and punctuality Who delivers it (status)?
  • 30. Negotiations and culture (+ meetings list) Decision-making (how, who, how long?) Reputation (face, company) Details – overall concept? Opinions (agreeing and disagreeing) Compromising Contracts (written, oral?) Fixed, followed or renegotiable? Influencing & Persuading Status, honour Tactics, starting point? Roles
  • 31. Cross-cultural Communication Listening habits Group exercise
  • 32. Cross-cultural Communication National Communication Patterns Group exercise
  • 33. Identifying differences across cultures NORTH EAST WEST SOUTH
  • 34. NORTH           Analysis Planning Efficiency Facts Process Order Consequence Reliable Cautious Rigorous
  • 35. WEST           Effectiveness Results Action Task focus Assertiveness Fairness Risk-taking Newness Independence Self-reliance
  • 36. SOUTH           Relationships Social Expression Emotion Family Clan Community Belonging Closeness Intimacy
  • 37. EAST           Accepting Flexible Harmony Balance Relationships Networks Cyclical Patient Ambiguity Paradox
  • 38. RATIONAL Sweden Canada N Finland Acting Germany Singapore Hongkong Netherlands Norway Denmark UK France USA PRAGMATIC Thinking Japan Vietnam E W Australia Poland Russia Hungary Belgium Feeling Italy S Spain China Korea Iran Turkey Brazil Indonesia India Saudi Nigeria Arabia HUMANIST HOLISTIC Reacting
  • 39. Strengths of the North organize plan and see problems ahead analyze consequences hold consistent policies access rational thought generate data challenge us objectively HEAD Collaborative : fast communication, flat hierarchies, openess, self-managing individuals Collaborative coolness, inflexibility, individualistic
  • 40. Strengths of the West energize experiment innovate focus on immediate future get results generate action take risks HAND Collaborative : speed, drive, action Collaborative too quick for discussion, lack of process & rigour
  • 41. Strengths of the South generate enthusiasm motivate sell ideas and persuade generate a positive social atmosphere access emotions generate dialogue challenge us personally HEART Collaborative : relationship building, warmth, community Collaborative hierarchy, disorganised, political
  • 42. Strengths of the East harmonize act intuitively be patient think and act long-term access feelings listen empathize Collaborative : Collaborative SPIRIT networking, tolerate ambiguity, meaning and purpose inequality, high context communication, reactive
  • 43. Cultural Adaptation: North 1. Do one thing at a time, complete action chains 2. Use logic and rationality 3. Stick to facts, prioritise truth over diplomacy 4. Follow rules, regulations, laws 5. Speech is for information 6. Maintain word-deed correlation 7. Stick to agenda 8. Respect officialdom 9. Respect contracts and written word 10.Limited body language
  • 44. Cultural Adaptation: West 1. Talk and listen in equal proportions 2. Be polite but direct, speak up 3. Take your speaking turn 4. Partly conceal feelings 5. Concentrate on the deal 6. Reply quickly to written communication or e-mails 7. Look for short-term profit 8. Be punctual 9. Stay results orientated 10.Compromise to achieve the deal
  • 45. Cultural Adaptation: East 1. Don’t threaten or blame 2. Suggestions, especially criticism, should be indirect 3. Favour diplomacy over truth 4. Good listening is important; don’t interrupt 5. Speech is to promote harmony 6. Don’t rush or pressure them, go over things several times 7. Face to face contact is important 8. Observe fixed power distances and hierarchy 9. Utilize networks
  • 46. Cultural Adaptation: South 1. Be prepared for several people talking at once 2. Let them talk at length, reply fully 3. Think aloud 4. Digress from agenda and explore interesting ideas 5. People and feelings are more important than facts 6. Speech is for opinions 7. Truth is flexible and situational 8. Be diplomatic rather than direct 9. Socialise, be relationship oriented 10. Contracts may often be renegotiated
  • 47. Interaction Styles NORTH SOUTH EAST Info sources data action dialogue networking Discussion style direct direct subtle affirming Argumentation explicit clarifying persuasive implicit Problem solving rational pragmatic emotional intuitive Likes to work alone alone small group whole group Attention span  WEST medium short medium long
  • 48. Practical communication tips 2. Leverage in Communication Think it though first & avoid obvious errors Status, Gender Pre-empt, deal with history Competition – internal, external Beware of assumptions Pressure (CEO, manager, market) Don’t forget the human factor Sponsorship Language, culture and communication processes Perspective – broader, bigger, longer term, timescale Use real, concrete, relevant examples Hints about the future Make people feel important in the process Strategy (BU, company) Listen and acknowledge Defuse - 3rd party ‘blame’ Communication plan + action Personal favour Flatter, stress the positive Patriotism Choose or change the setting Change or die
  • 49. Becoming a multicultural organisation (1)  Where are you now (monocultural, transitional)?  Areas of operation, activities, target markets, where is growth going to come from?  Daily contact, depth of collaboration  Is culture and diversity already an issue?  Do you really want to become more multicultural?  What are the challenges and benefits for your organisation?
  • 50. Becoming a multicultural organisation (2) Key success factors  Sponsorship by the board and top management team  In line with strategic goals  Communication, listening  Systematic approach, targetted efforts  Involve and engage people, bottom-up approach – culture is a topic most people have opinions about!  Training and in-house resources, Knowledge Management  Develop metrics & tools to measure change
  • 51. Becoming a multicultural organisation - checklist  Lead by example!  Written policies forbidding discrimination  Training programmes  Social events, relationship-building, trust  Engagement, input from minorities  Flexible work environment  Continuous monitoring and development ROD - ”Return on Diversity”
  • 52. Success Factors for Crosscultural Collaboration  Be prepared  Slow down  Set common ground rules  Agree on communication rules  Develop relationships  Understand own culture  Curiosity and respect for others  Build trust
  • 53. Universal characteristics Everyone wants to be liked and feel that: Feeling CC Finland they are listened to Excellent, but show it with body language & affirmation their feelings & opinions matter Speed & frequency of response – comment! they are interesting Personal comment and follow-up questions their efforts are appreciated Clear thanks even when it is their job A smile goes a long way!!!
  • 54. The golden rules & action points!! 1. Know thyself - beware of assumptions! 2. Cross-cultural research to avoid basic errors 3. State of awareness, improved sensitivity 4. Be interested in the differences 5. Effort to learn from experience 6. Enjoy it!
  • 55. Thank you & good luck! mattjcobb@gmail.com
  • 56. Web resources  Search strings: ”cross-cultural communication + country name”  kwintessential.co.uk (good starting point for national cultural information)  clearlycultural.com (introduction to Hofstede’s dimensions)  everyculture.com (general cultural info)  worldbusinessculture.com (more business focused)
  • 57. Cross-cultural studies  Parsons & Shils (1951): Pattern variables  Kluckhohn & Strodtbeck (1961) Value-orientations  Edward T. Hall (1966) contact & no contact; (1976) monochronic & polychronic time concept; (1976) low & high context  Geert Hofstede (1980; 1983; 1991; 2001, 2005) work-related values  Shalom Schwartz (1987/1992, 1994, 2002) (Schwartz Value Inventory SVI)  Fons Trompenaars (1993;1997)  Alexander Thomas (1989): cultural standards  Richard D. Lewis When cultures collide (2006)  Richard Gesteland (1999): combines various studies