Here’s a fascinating infographic from Business Insider that shows how communication patterns vary around the world – leading to very different negotiation styles.
If these findings are correct, Americans see a fight as communication, the English will always a defer a decision to a further meeting, Hungarians all speak at once, while Fins like to keep the talk ‘minimal’. (Who knew?)
The article draws on a book by Richard D Lewis entitled ‘When cultures collide: leading across cultures’ – which has a wider focus than just negotiation, however. Lewis is an expert in cross-cultural communication with a strong training background (according to Wikipedia he founded the Berlitz School of Languages in Finland in 1955).
Training for executives in cross-cultural understanding is a fertile area. The Hofstede Centre is also prominent in the field, and their website has a handy tool that lets you select from a huge range of countries around the world and compare cultural differences along 6 dimensions.
The focus in this sort of work has tended historically to be on training executives who go abroad to do business, or to lead and manage regional offices. Increasingly however, learning professionals creating global programmes for multinational workforces are having to come to terms with such differences as well.
Creating trans-cultural learning programmes
Imagine that you are about to create a sales training programme for a global workforce, and you are going to need at least some technology in the mix to make it feasible. You might want to include bespoke learning in that mix. Looking at the infographic above, you would at once see a huge diversity of negotiating styles that your training programme would have to cover.
Clearly you are going to have to make some decisions straight away about what can be generic in your programme, and where you might need to localise the content to cater for different national cultures. How will you make those decisions? What are the pitfalls to avoid in training across different cultures?
At Lumesse we’re extremely conscious of these issues – and not just because we’re a global group with offices all around the world. Our clients face these problems all the time, and regularly come to us for help with designing global learning solutions.
To help you avoid the pitfalls of training across cultures, we’ve created an insight paper, in collaboration with Towards Maturity, the international recognised learning benchmarking organisation: The Challenges of Building Skills in Geographically Dispersed Teams (and how to overcome them).