Cross-cultural Competence Training...the CI-CD approach

Much ‘cultural training’ comprises little more than awareness/orientation, with tips about ‘body language’ and ‘business etiquette’ based on dated, abstract generalisations about cultural differences, drawn loosely from the fields of anthropology and/or sociology. By contrast, CI-CD moves on from ‘cultural awareness’ to develop the practical strategies and skills for communicating successfully across cultures. These skills are distilled from the most authoritative research in the relevant academic field, applied sociolinguistics.

Our unique training DVDs show real-life case-studies of international negotiations and project management meetings, and of UK front-line public service delivery: these bring to the training room the power and credibility of documentary evidence - not over-simplified, stereotypical drama scenes with actors. By watching authentic interactions at work, managers and front-line staff see for themselves how unwitting cross-cultural misunderstandings occur - the vital first step for developing skills for successfully communicating across cultures, whether at home or abroad. (To see list, click on 'Crosstalk DVDs' above.)

Feedback from hundreds of client organisations shows that this approach is what busy managers most appreciate. However, if face-to-face coaching or training is not practical, the CI-CD Handbook 'Communicating Interculturally in global business' is very popular with managers as a self-learning 'mini-course'. This is available in print or on-line for a company's Intranet; click 'contact us' to obtain free copy of Contents and Introduction by email. 

We provide independent evaluation reports of all our training for International Business, Public Services, NHS.

What are the skills of Cross-cultural Communication?

In day-to-day practice, much work done internationally fails, or produces lower-than-expected levels of productivity, because of misunderstandings of cross-cultural communication. These damage the effectiveness of project teams (both face-to-face and virtually); executive meetings; welcoming of visiting delegations; and expatriate assignments - marketing, negotiating trading relationships,or change managing with suppliers/partners overseas.

Most executives/managers who have made work trips abroad know how bewildering and demoralising it is to find that things do not happen as expected, and objectives are not achieved. A leadership, marketing or management style that works well at home can be wholly ineffective elsewhere in Europe, in Asia, the Middle East, Latin America. It is naïve, wishful thinking for executives to think their way of working in their own country can simply be ‘transplanted’ overseas. Different cultures bring different assumptions, attitudes and behaviours to how they establish business relationships, negotiate agreements, manage and motivate teams, conduct training, measure performance, and most challengingly, tackle change management.

On top of that, much frustration and stress results from underestimating how different cultural values produce culturally different communication styles. Even when English is being spoken fluently enough by all parties, differing cultural assumptions, together with influences of a person’s first language on their speaking style in English as a learned language, lead to damaging misunderstandings of meanings, and consequent misperceptions of intentions. Such (unwitting) communication breakdowns cause irritation or impatience, which act as barriers to building effective working (or customer) relationships. Linguistic research shows it is seriously misleading for UK or American managers to assume, just because a foreign executive/manager (or front-line Customer Service Representative) can speak in English, that mutual rapport and understanding are being achieved

Cross-cultural communication is not a matter merely of adapting to differences of ‘business etiquette’ overseas, or of avoiding offence in body language or gestures at the start of meetings. It is about understanding the subtle ways different cultural values, and different first languages, influence people’s ways of behaving, thinking and communicating, throughout any meeting to negotiate trade/investment or manage international teams or JV projects.

It's a difficulty that the way we speak is largely an unconscious process. That’s why training is needed: to equip expatriating managers to ‘read between the lines’ and realise when things are going wrong in inter-cultural exchanges abroad. But such awareness is only an initial 25%: executives/managers need to go on to become competent – to become equipped with the 'tools for the job' for successfully identifying, clarifying and repairing such intercultural breakdowns in trading or managing internationally - or better of course, preventing these from arising in the first place. Essentially, cultural competence means gaining the ability to act as your own mediator in cross-cultural exchanges. 

CI-CD provides those crucial skills through individual coaching (face-to-face or via Skype) or through in-company group workshops. However, if these options are not practical for you, contact us for a free copy of the Contents page and Introduction of the CI-CD self-learning 'mini-course':'Communicating Interculturally in global business' (available as a print manual or on-line).