as “context communication.” People in Western business organizations tend to prefer linear, direct communication that “nets it out.” In other cultures the norm is to be more indirect, to draw inferences, and to present information in a more metaphorical fashion.
An American might expect to send an e-mail, get a response, and consider the transaction to be complete. If working with people from a high-context culture, that e-mail might be all right in certain situations for conveying information, but will be completely ineffective for building relationships or resolving conflicts. An e-mail sent for such purposes might not even receive a reply, possibly creating more conflict.
Insight Brings Behavior Change
As profound as these kinds of differences are, they often go unrecognized. Unlike spoken language, they stem from deeply held beliefs and values, and the “rules of engagement” are unwritten. They are so much taken for granted within a culture that they are not always clearly articulated, even by those within the cultural group. By raising these differences to the level of conscious awareness, people can change behavior, becoming more adaptable, less judgmental, and more skilled at changing their habitual approach to accommodate cultural differences.
In one study, groups receiving global awareness training showed significant changes in behavior compared to those not trained, especially in the skill areas of avoiding labeling of colleagues/clients based on culture; modifying the style of meetings, e-mails, and phone calls to match cultural expectations; and adjusting to how others build relationships. In fact, in this study of high-potential managers, 91 to 100% indicated that global awareness training:
• Increased retention of cross-cultural customers and employees
• Resulted in improved efficiencies and cost savings
• Helped them keep their projects on schedule and within budget
Overall, 100% of the managers agreed, and 29% strongly agreed, that global awareness training made them more effective in their job.
The dimensions discussed here have a demonstrably large impact on every aspect of a business relationship, from
how agreements are reached, to how and when actions are taken, to how to conduct ongoing communication.
Employees of companies doing international business can benefit from greater awareness of these dimensions, and from building skills that will help them create mutually satisfying business relationships regardless of where they are in the world.
About the Authors: Michael Leimbach, Ph.D.
Michael Leimbach, Ph.D., is Vice President of Global Research and Design for Wilson Learning Worldwide. With over 25 years in the field, Dr. Leimbach provides leadership for researching and designing Wilson Learning’s diagnostic, learning, and performance improvement capabilities. He has managed major research studies in sales, leaderships and organizational effectiveness, and has developed Wilson Learning’s Impact Evaluation capability and return on investment models. Dr. Leimbach has served as a research consultant for a wide variety of global client organizations, is on the editorial boards for the ADHR professional journal, as well as serving a leadership role for the ISO technical committee TC232: Standards for Learning Service Providers. He has co-authored four books, has published numerous professional articles, and is a frequent speaker at national and global conferences.
Nancy Frevert is Director of Solution Development for Wilson Learning Worldwide. With over 15 years of experience in product design and implementation, she provides leadership for the development of Wilson Learning’s global brand solution capabilities in sales, leadership, and individual effectiveness. As director, she conducts research and works extensively to obtain and incorporate customer input and requirements. She has worked across many industries as well as with national and international offices and customers on brand and custom solutions. Ms. Frevert has authored documents and presentations for many programs and solutions as well as articles for business publications.
To learn more about the concepts shared within this article and how Wilson Learning can assist you in addressing these issues, contact Wilson Learning at 1.800.328.7937 or visit www. wilsonlearning-americas.com
1 Michael Levine, Executive Director for Education at the Asia Society 2 McKinsey Survey, Five Forces Reshaping the Global Economy, March 2010 3 Michael Leimbach, “The Impact of Learning Transfer on Global Effectiveness”
These categories are derived in part from the work of Geert Hofstede, recognized as the founder of cross-cultural management, and a fellow of the US Academy of Management. 5
4 Michael Leimbach, “Impact of Learning Transfer on Global Effectiveness” 21 marketingtimes
| Page 2
| Page 3
| Page 4
| Page 5
| Page 6
| Page 7
| Page 8
| Page 9
| Page 10
| Page 11
| Page 12
| Page 13
| Page 14
| Page 15
| Page 16
| Page 17
| Page 18
| Page 19
| Page 20
| Page 21
| Page 22
| Page 23
| Page 24
| Page 25
| Page 26
| Page 27
| Page 28
| Page 29
| Page 30
| Page 31
| Page 32
| Page 33
| Page 34
| Page 35
| Page 36