Talaera Talks - Business English Communication

81. Overcome Cultural Barriers at Work: 3 Steps

January 26, 2023 Talaera Business English Communications Training Episode 81
Talaera Talks - Business English Communication
81. Overcome Cultural Barriers at Work: 3 Steps
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Are you aware of the cultural differences within your team? This episode will help you keep communication open and effective with your global remote team.

Read the full post: How To Overcome The Top 4 Communication Barriers In The Workplace

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Simon Kennell  0:01  
Welcome back for another Talaera Bit. My name is Simon. And as always, I hope you're having a great day. Today we'll be talking about overcoming cultural barriers with your remote team. Now, if you do work in a globally remote team, you're probably aware of some differences, right? To start off with, you're working in different time zones, there's, of course, the different cultures, and you maybe have different ways of how you approach your work how you approach your team. Well, there are so many tips that we talk about at Talaera when it comes to cross cultural training, and we have so many, but today, I'm just gonna give you three. This is a Talaera Bit, so we're keeping it short and sweet for you. 

Simon Kennell  0:51  
So the first tip is when you're working remotely, in a global team, you want to be aware of cultural differences in time perception. Now, of course, you're going to be working in different time zones. So you want to be considerate of people working in different time zones, and the times that you set meetings on the calendar or the time that you're expecting to communicate with certain co workers. For example, many countries in Europe have laws around how long their employees should be working, right. So in France, there's a right to disconnect law, which is really meant to preserve this work life balance. So you really shouldn't expect your French colleague to, you know, hop on a two hour long call after hours, right. So this is something to consider, you know, especially if you're managing teams in Europe, and you're in a different timezone. Of course, you want to be polite, you want to be considerate, but also keep in mind that there could be legal options around this as well. 

Simon Kennell  2:06  
Now, when it comes to timekeeping, this is something that you should definitely consider when you're working with teams, and you have a really packed schedule, you should be considerate of how long a meeting will take, right? In certain cultures, it's very common to spend the first 10 to 15 minutes even getting to know each other having the small chit chat, you know, having that. And, and really, this is a way of connecting with your colleagues of building that you know, that relationship that you're keeping with with your remote employees. Of course, we want to get things done. And that's important. But if you're setting in some times, I think you should consider you know, does this team usually spend some time chit chatting? Do we kind of get to know each other a little bit before going into our agenda? Or do we get right to the point, right? If I have colleagues from Finland, I know we'll probably get right to the point very quickly. Versus if I'm working with a South American team. It's pretty nice and relaxing to kind of slide into the agenda after five to 10 minutes of you know, some small talk. 

Simon Kennell  3:21  
Now, as well, with time we want to consider deadlines, and we talk about this a lot, especially with our managers is our expectations around deadlines can be different, or they can be communicated differently depending on the culture. So a good rule is to across all cultures, keep your your time expectations, your deadlines as clear as possible. So you want a time and a date, right? If you say something like Oh, yeah, can you get this project to me by the end of the week? This can be pretty ambiguous meaning it can be kind of gray, you want to keep it as clear as possible. So everybody knows that 5pm On Friday, you know, Eastern Time is the deadline, not 5pm on Friday, Central European Time, those are two different things, right. So making sure that you have very clear ideas on when deadlines are that helps everybody and again, when it comes to communication, clarity is key. But when it comes to communicating in a remote team, cross culturally, communication and clear communication is the gold standard. That's what we need. 

Simon Kennell  4:41  
So we've talked about time, we want to talk about local customs as well. Right? So if you're starting to work with a team in India or Spain or Mexico or the United States, one good thing to do before you you start working with this team is to do a live little research on local business customs, this will be a little helpful for you. So you don't walk into a situation, you know, where you're totally uncertain about how things work and, and why people are showing up late or why people are all the ways always completely on time, right? So we want to you, we want to be aware of what we're walking into. Now, often a good thing to kind of express is positive curiosity, when you're asking your colleagues about cultural aspects, you know, you can really learn a lot by asking, Hey, how are things usually done in Spain when it comes to deadlines? Like, what would you consider a common kind of, you know, behavior with that? And there, you're not asking how do you do things, but how are things usually done. And when you take the pressure off of that person, and you turn it into a cultural discussion, this can really help with learning a lot, and you can really show that you're coming across, you know, in a positive, curious way, by showing that positive curiosity in the way that your tone is, in the way that you're framing the question, How are things usually done? How would you consider this, you know, if I showed up, you know, 10-15 minutes late, is that like taboo in this culture? And you can really have a nice discussion around that. But again, doing a little bit of research before I can always help. 

Simon Kennell  6:32  
The third tip is we want to be sensitive around different communication styles, right? And a rule for me, whenever I feel like, I get a little bit caught off guard with a certain communication style, is I ask, number one, could this be cultural? Or could this be just some type of miscommunication. And many times you'll find that it is, especially when it comes to things like disagreeing, right? So there are so many different ways that culture that different cultures have around disagreeing. For example, in some culture being very outright about, you know, disagreeing will be seen as a positive, for example, like in Russia, or in Denmark disagreeing is a good thing, it's a healthy thing. Whereas in a country like Thailand, or Japan disagreeing, you know, outwardly can be a negative, right? And it can hurt the Yeah, the environment in which you're in, right? So you want to be considerate around, where, where am I right? Where am I? Even if I'm sitting at home, where am I working remotely? And with what team and how is disagreeing, you know, different here? Same thing with negotiation, right? There are definitely differences when it comes to negotiation. And doing a little bit of that cultural research beforehand, can really help, you know, even doing a cross cultural training, you know, exercise with Talaera can help. So, there's so many resources out there to really help you kind of smooth the edges when it comes to working, you know, in a remote team cross culturally. And, you know, most often than not, everybody's trying to do their best and miscommunication happens a lot, right? So, again, when it comes to working remotely and cross culturally, you're really an uphill battle when it comes to communication. So you want to make sure that you can be as clear as possible by being aware of differences in time perception, being aware of, you know, differences with local customs, so show that positive curiosity and being sensitive around different communication styles, right? So asking yourself, Could this be a misunderstanding? Could this be cultural? So, as always, I hope you can take these tips, use them, review them, start to apply them right? See if you can stop yourself before getting a little frustrated and think, Okay, could this be cultural? Right, and that can usually help you start to get a better feel for things. My name is Simon and, as always, keep learning.

Paola Pascual  9:20  
And that's all we have for you today. We hope you enjoyed it. And remember to subscribe to Talaera Talks. We'll be back soon with more.

Simon Kennell  9:28  
And visit our website at talaera.com for more valuable content on business English. You can also request a free consultation on the best ways for you and your team to improve your communication skills. So have a great day and keep learning!

Differences in Time Perception
Local Customs and Positive Curiosity
Different Communication Styles