If you are working in a cross-cultural office

Что полезно знать при работе в мультинациональной команде.

If you are working in a cross-cultural office

There are quite a number of international companies operating in Ukraine now. First “birds” arrived here back in 1991-1992, as soon as the country became independent. How is it to build a business in a new culture? How is it to work with a foreign management?

To reveal some of the cross cultural peculiarities, let’s turn to basic research data which distinguishes six fundamental areas of cross-cultural differences:
1) communication style,
2) attitude towards conflict,
3) approaches to tasks,
4) decision making style,
5) sincerity and openness, and
6) attitude to knowledge.

Taking a brief look at each element might give us just a slight idea of possible pitfalls when interacting with colleagues in a multinational office.
Communication style: we use both verbal and non-verbal language when delivering our message. Misunderstandings are common even when you speak to somebody from your own culture. The risk grows considerably if you speak in a foreign language, and use a body language which may carry completely different meaning in the eyes of the person you address. So, beware of the verbal language style you use and of your body language.
Attitude towards conflict: Ukrainians prefer to hush up a conflict or deal with it in written form. Western cultures bring in their ways of open discussion and exchange of (often conflicting) opinions. There are various ways to behave in a conflict, so make sure you choose the one which is most productive in your particular situation.
Approaches to tasks: here we face the dilemma of balancing relationship-building and task-orientation. In some cultures much time at the beginning of the project is dedicated to developing relationships in a team before actually getting to task completion. In others, like the U.S., the focus is immediately set on the task at hand and relationships develop in the course of working on a project.
Decision making style: there are cultures where decisions are made solely by the person in charge, somebody who has the formal authority. Other cultures welcome delegating decisions and allocating responsibility to subordinates. Yet another style implies that a consensus should be reached by a group of people. Managers should bear in mind that individuals' expectations about their own roles in shaping a decision may be influenced by their cultural affiliation.
Sincerity and open-mindedness: in some cultures, it is not appropriate to be open about your emotions, discuss somebody’s motives or share any personal information. Keep this in mind when you are in a dialogue or when you are working with others. Questions that may seem natural to you will seem intrusive to others. The variation among cultures in attitudes toward disclosure is also something to consider before you conclude that you have an accurate reading of the views, experiences and goals of the people with whom you are interacting.
Attitude to knowledge: this component is about instruments used in different cultures when acquiring new knowledge. While generally more confidence lies in objective methods, like using numeric data and analyses; there are cultures that prefer subjective ways of gathering and sharing knowledge, where emotions, symbolism and intuition prevail.

You may represent a refined specimen of a certain culture or already be a mixture of views and approaches. At any rate, do take an effort to be curious about the cultural variety of your environment and educate yourself. There is nothing more disappointing than being misinterpreted.

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