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Are You Ready to Go International?

New technology and information systems along with the increasing internationalisation of many economic sectors are putting us into contact with people coming from a different cultural background.
Not only has this increased the demand for language training, but at the same time the need of specific skills.
Confronted with a different culture, with different mind sets, ways of perceiving and behaving the unprepared person is likely to encounter difficulties.

The mere linguistic abilities and the contact with persons belonging to another culture is not sufficient to avoid misunderstanding, bias and stereotyping.
For personal and business success in the international arena adequate training is needed.


Cultural Awareness – Know Your Own Culture


Many of our day-to-day activities we once learned are based on implicit culturally bound values. They have become so much part of our every day life that we do them automatically.
However, the awareness of our own culture is indispensable for developing sensitivity for other cultures.
Intercultural Sensitivity – The Ability to Change Perspective
Developing transcultural sensitivity means to be able to change perspective recognizing that other cultures have different values, preferences and ways of doing things. Gaining awareness of the relativity of our own culture enables us to empathise with culturally different others and to adjust our way of interacting and communicating.

 

Cross-Cultural Communication


Different cultures communicate in different ways. According to E. T. Hall, an American cultural anthropologist, we can distinguish between two different styles: high context cultures and low context cultures.
In high context cultures, in order to understand what is being communicated, a lot of context information is needed, e.g. information about the persons you are dealing with, their status, common friends or acquaintances, nonverbal communication, intonation, facial expression, eye-contact, etc.
Moreover, in high context cultures people tend to use more indirect and deductive communication strategies; in other words getting straightforward to the point would be perceived as rude.
Accordingly high context cultures make major use of nonverbal communication. In addition, indirect verbal communication is considered an art. Business relations are based on reciprocal trust and have to be built patiently over time. Information gathering occurs mainly through informal networks. There are few incontrovertible rules, most of which are negotiable (examples: China, Italy).
On the contrary, in low context cultures there is little need for context information. Business relations focus more on merit than on personal relationships. Information is conveyed mainly verbally. The communication style is quite explicit, straightforward and inductive. Information is conveyed by means of formal channels with a hierarchical structure. Business relations are not necessarily based on reciprocal trust and good interpersonal relationships.
Accordingly it is less time consuming to build them (which can lead to a higher number of relations, along with a lower durability). (Examples: Germany, USA)

The ability to adjust one’s communication style to the communicative needs of people from other cultures is the key to successful international business relations and personal relationships.
Cross-cultural communication can have many different aspects, such as the ability to effectively explain, to convey efficiently messages to people from other cultures, to modulate degrees of directness in face-threatening situations and to check our grasp of what persons with a different cultural background are trying to tell us.

 

Managing Uncertainty


Working with new people in an international context demands a great ability to respond flexibly to unpredictable situations. Managing uncertainty means to be able to adapt to new and unknown features.

syaylaSylvie Schoch, CEO and founder of IP-International.

Sylvie is passionate about people and organizations and is convinced that the “human factor” makes the difference. She spent half of her life abroad and learned a lot from the different cultures she lived and worked with. As certified business coach and a senior consultant she founded IP-International to provide small, medium sized and big organizations trainining and coaching services in the field of Lean Management, Teambuilding, Problem Solving, Labor Organization, Communication and Cross-Cultural Competencies. Whatever service IP-International provides it focusses on people, on creativity and on a playful approach. We are convinced that high performance is fun.