In today’s business world, more and more people are working across borders, whether that be on a regional, continental or an intercontinental level, with colleagues or with suppliers or customers.
Interculturality in a company is any aspect of the interaction of different cultures in the workplace.
Therefore, people often come to meetings, workshops, trade fairs etc. with the habits, ideas and customs from their country of origin. Even in the same office, you can be working with someone on an internship abroad or with a colleague on a 6-month secondment or transfer from an office in another country.
Another potential trap could be on a marketing strategy level: a slogan or advertising campaign that works well in one country will not necessarily have the same impact in another! As a result, supervisors and managers need to take such cultural differences into account when managing their teams, which is no mean feat in a large team.
What’s more, English is more often than not the language used when people of different cultures and native languages meet to do business. Doing business in a foreign language brings its own problems…
So, in practice, how do you manage interculturality in the workplace?
National stereotypes and cultural differences exist. As with all stereotypes, some are true, some are not… The supervisor can help the team see these differences and use them to the team’s advantage, each person bringing his or her own qualities, experience, vision etc.
In an interculturally rich team, it is all the more important for team members to understand the key elements of colleagues’ cultures, especially where this will affect or impact the team dynamic and way of working. Each person brings his own culture and skill set to the table which, in turn, makes the team stronger.
There is also the question of language. Many in the team, or even the company, may well have English as a foreign language and their level may not, for the moment, be high enough to work effectively in the team. Native speakers should remember this and try to express their ideas clearly enough so as not to be misunderstood. Non-native speakers should feel able to ask the speaker to repeat when needed.
These points, and others besides, should lead to greater harmony and team spirit within the team. Such aspects may take time to learn, especially as it may well be learnt on the job, while trying to do the job…
As far as working in English is concerned, GlobalExam has the answers you need.
Language is crucial when communicating with an intercultural team, but it’s important to consider the other ways we communicate beyond words. Sometimes we communicate in the following ways without even realising it.
Did you know that there are four main ways we communicate using our bodies? Nonverbal communication can be powerful so it’s important to reflect on how we use our facial expressions, body movement, gestures, and eye contact to send and receive messages with our interlocutors. For example, think about how you use your hands when greeting and speaking to someone in order to put them at ease and invite questions (try opening your palms towards them).
Being aware of politeness and showing respect in the workplace is as essential with existing colleagues as it is with new contacts, however the way we show politeness and respect can differ depending on who’s speaking and being spoken to. Showing politeness can be as simple as adding titles, such as Madame and Monsieur when you speak, or it could come down to who you do and don’t invite to meetings and lunches. Knowing what’s considered respectful and normal in a cultural context takes a certain amount of observation.
When thinking about interculturality, cultural differences are key. Different cultures think about things like punctuality differently - one culture might consider arriving early to an appointment polite, and another might find it inconsiderate towards your host. Equally, some cultures might prioritize a division between work and leisure, whereas others consider them one and the same. Taking into account these possible differences in an intercultural team is important to managing people from different cultures in one space.
In order to understand and tackle interculturality in the workplace, first you’ll need to know the language associated with it. Let’s take a look at some vocabulary that could come in handy when talking about interculturality themes, such as forming an inclusive team, discussing international expansion, or clarifying communication errors. Here are some examples:
disrespectful - lack of respect
bridge a gap - to fill a hole
in-depth - extensive, thorough
enrich - to give greater wealth
a good fit - a good candidate for something
to add value - to give greater value
market - a region in which goods and services are bought
transformational - leading to important changes
striving- to devote a serious effort
suit - to fit
stimulate - to give more strength
tagline - short phrase, slogan
packaging - materials used to wrap or protect goods
brand ambassadors - people that represent the brand
liaise with - to connect to
hold the line - to stay on the line
reach out - to contact
Getting a handle on interculturality requires some work. The best way to get to grips with new vocabulary is to put it into practice with exercises. Let’s look at some examples of the types of interculturality exercises you can do on GlobalExam.
Example number one:
In this example exercise, you need to know the meaning of the word “disrespectful”. One way to learn new terms like this is to associate it with synonyms, in this case the word “rude”.
Let’s try another one with example number two:
This is a fill in the gaps exercise, where you’re given a small selection of words and must place them in the correct gap in the sentence. This kind of exercise requires vocabulary and grammar knowledge, specifically familiarity with English syntax. This example is taken from a GlobalExam situation that looks at expanding a company to new markets.
How did you find those exercises? Easy or hard, know that you can modify the difficulty on GlobalExam and choose which topics and exercises you complete.
There are many ways to improve your English nowadays, but as technology gets better and we become more and more used to distance learning and working, e-learning language platforms and tools are becoming more sophisticated and really taking off. Let’s look at some of the main methods for taking your English to the next level online.
Downloading a language learning app is one of the simplest ways to improve your English online. Apps are often fun and incorporate language learning into games. Plus, it’s an easy way to improve your English in a spare moment.
Signing up to an e-learning platform is a more comprehensive way of approaching your learning. Sophisticated platforms like GlobalExam include vocabulary, grammar, and communication training all in one.
Learning online is a great way to improve your English, but human-to-human interaction can’t be topped for improving your oral comprehension of expression. This is why we recommend combining virtual lessons with your online study.
If we’ve convinced you that taking your English learning online could be the way forward for you, you might also be pleased to find out that that doesn’t mean you have to learn in isolation. When you improve your English online with GlobalExam, you can take part in virtual lessons with our qualified teachers.
Once you’ve established a strong foundation in grammar and vocabulary, you can put your skills to the test in a virtual lesson either by yourself or with up to six other learners. Putting newly acquired knowledge into practice has to be one of the best ways to ensure that these new terms and concepts stick.
Our virtual teachers are native speakers from all over the world, experienced in teaching students just like you all there is to know about English for business. For one-on-one tuition, you can arrange a private 30-minute lesson, specifying what you want to study. If you prefer interacting with other learners, a group lesson is for you. Group lessons are one hour long and they cover a predetermined theme, such as:
Making phone calls
Participating in video and conference calls
In case you need more reasons to sign up for virtual lessons, let’s look at some of the key advantages of this method of learning:
Practice listening and speaking
Putting your skills into practice is an excellent way to consolidate your grammar knowledge
Talking with a partner in a group lesson allows you to build confidence in your English communication skills
Our virtual teachers can offer you instant feedback on your performance, with advice for how to improve
Lessons follow on from the platform teaching methodology, enabling you to follow a continuous method
Online learning also means you can say goodbye to dusty textbooks with long lists of rules to follow, exceptions to remember, and conjugation tables to commit to heart. When you learn with GlobalExam on our platform or through virtual lessons, you’re joining a user-friendly and interactive learning experience that promotes seamless learning through situations and discussion.
Virtual learning is the future, and with excellent connection and slick technology, learning online has never been so seamless.
How can GlobalExam help?
Many find the idea of an intercultural workplace attractive: people of different origins and backgrounds working together for the common good… oftentimes in English. But what if you feel your English could be better still to help you in such a team?
GlobalExam Business English is an online platform where you can learn business English that is relevant and adapted to you and your needs. Whether you work in sales or HR, in banking or in tourism, you will learn what is right for you.
The platform contains over 500 different situations, each one lasting just 15 minutes making it easy for you to fit into your busy schedule to maximise return on investment and progress.
You can choose to practise Business English on a specific topic, not related to any job in particular: