Do you know your handshake from your bow? Your cultural awareness may need polishing

October 2, 2023
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In many ways, the working world is getting smaller. Technology is enabling us to connect with all four corners of the world and the rise in remote work has meant that borders are no longer barriers when it comes to networking and team building. We’re entering a period where, for the first time, a company can be spread across multiple locations with every employee coming from a different background. Technologically, we can handle it. But how do we make sure that we’re also keeping up culturally? 

What our culture says about us

Cultural difference goes much further than the languages we speak or the food we eat. Our culture impacts our personalities, interactions and how we live our day-to-day lives. This is why the impact of culture can never be underestimated in the workplace. 

While some cultures share similarities, none of them are entirely the same—and some are very different. For example, while it’s not exactly considered polite, in the USA, it’s relatively common for people to talk over each other in meetings. In Japan, however, this would be considered much more disrespectful. Similarly, Dutch people tend to have a very direct, no-nonsense approach to conversation and problem-solving, whereas British people - who are more indirect and appeasing - can find this behavior rather curt. 

How do we overcome our cultural differences? 

No, the solution is not to simply hire from your own cultural background. In fact, hiring from a diverse pool of cultural talent is a great way to generate new ideas that resonate with a wider demographic. But in order to do this well, steps must be taken to ensure we have an awareness of our cultural differences so that we don’t get offended—or do the offending! 

Cultural Awareness Training is a practice that’s becoming more and more common as business becomes increasingly global. It teaches employees and leaders about the nuances behind individual cultures so that we can broaden our perspectives. The result is that we can better adapt our behaviors depending on who we are working with. 

We’ll never know exactly what to say and do to please everyone in the world, but having a good grasp of cultural awareness significantly reduces the likelihood that we will only act according to our own cultural code. It makes us more sympathetic to others, and generally more competent at communicating across the globe. Not just in business, but any time you want to see more of the world! 

At Remotify, we help companies become truly global through seamless, pain-free remote working practices. We handle the complexities, so you can focus on building a cross-cultural great place to work. Want to know how we do it? Get in touch with a member of our friendly team today! 

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