In 2005, American journalist and author Thomas Friedman published the highly popular book The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century. In it, he explored the phenomenon of globalization that has enabled business to transcend geographical distances and political borders. With the spread of the Internet and companies doing business in multiple countries, we are essentially living in a global village without borders.
One thing that is an outcome of globalization is the meeting of cultures. Now, there are considerable differences between different cultures in different countries. In order to prevent a clash of cultures that may disrupt business, it is necessary for firms to embrace all cultures, especially in areas where they have a physical presence. This can be achieved through cross-cultural training.
Cross-cultural training is not only the learning of different languages, though admittedly language training is a very important part of the process. Cross-cultural training also includes teaching people how different cultures perceive the same thing in different ways. It includes training for executives in gestures, habits and overall behavior. For example, in Japanese culture, a bow from the waist is the traditional gesture for greeting someone. Even for the bow, there are subtleties like the person of a lower designation bowing lower when meeting someone of a higher designation.
Cross-cultural training provides many of the “soft” skills that are necessary for business success. While “hard” skills like education and work capability are undoubtedly important, “soft” skills distinguish the great from the good in business. They demonstrate a company’s extra efforts to satisfy customers.
If your company is not prepared to impart such training in-house, you may choose to outsource it to a specialized firm. At EES Executive English Solutions Chile we have the required skills and experience to succeed in this challenging role. EES courses emphasize not only the importance of language skills but also in the key role that culture and customs play in a globalized market place.
Director, EES Chile