Hopefully, we all have the benefit of working with colleagues and clients from many different backgrounds. Exposure to other experiences and perspectives can be enriching, but it can also be challenging to work together effectively. Taking the time up front to understand the difference and appreciate it, will not only enrich your work life but also broaden your world.

Many times, a few simple practices can equip us to create authentic connections and open communication across differences.  Review these ideas as you think about how to bridge cultural differences in your workplace.

Simple Tools

ASK QUESTIONS.

Questions can provide helpful information and open up an ongoing conversation. You’ll gain insights and show others that you’re interested in their opinions. Be open and thoughtful as you engage.

STUDY AND LEARN.

Many employers offer opportunities for cultural training. You can also use your own time to study foreign languages and other subjects or to learn more about others and their perspectives. Often, having these insights opens doors to deeper dialogue and connection across differences.

SHARE YOUR PREFERENCES.

Advocate for yourself by letting others know how you wish to be treated. You may make them feel more comfortable about doing the same, or even ask that they reciprocate in the spirit of building trust.

FOCUS ON COMMUNICATING.

Even while engaging in cultural differences, it’s reasonable for a business to maintain consistent performance expectations. Respectfully communicate frequently and often about expectations, interactions, and need to set clear standards as you work toward building an inclusive culture.

Situational Guidelines

DRESS CODE.

Study wardrobe etiquette for the regions where you do business. Consider being flexible about your company dress code unless accommodations would raise safety concerns and other serious issues.

FORMS OF ADDRESS.

Some countries use first names or formal titles more than others. When possible, let others decide how they wish to be addressed.

SCHEDULING.

Definitions of punctuality also vary. When you’re scheduling meetings and work shifts, think about how others are likely to interpret the instructions.

COMMUNICATION.

Differences in verbal and nonverbal communication are often the most challenging issues. Try to be patient and respectful. Mirroring someone’s style without mimicking them may help you find common ground.

Learn how to bridge cultural differences with a coach at Coherence Strategy Group.