Este artigo foi publicado originalmente na plataforma virtual “LinkedIn Pulse”, em inglês. Abaixo o texto original do artigo, como publicado em 23.03.2020:
THE 5 RULES OF THUMB IN CROSS-CULTURAL COMMUNICATION
A positive interaction in Cross-Cultural Communication, ranging from expat job interviews, business meetings with international bankers and borrowers, to finding new business opportunities abroad, is what we all look for when working with foreign business settings and a wider contact with people and companies in different parts of the world.
So, the question here is: how to get things done easily, to make sense of the differences in cultures, yet adopting a common language for a more efficient and clear communication among all involved?
Let us begin by explaining that:
I, Fernanda, have established a long business relationship within Latin America and the Caribbean, North America and Europe, not only for the many opportunities I have had in my international legal career (including job interviews, group meetings and public speaking engagements), but also as a leader-business coach and mentor, working with entrepreneurs, peers and corporate clients from many backgrounds, different perspectives, cultures and complex deals on a diverse multicultural setting.
I, Rafael, have worked with projects and business opportunities in Latin America, the Caribbean, the United States, and Canada, along with Europe and Asia, for the past 18 years. This provides me with the ability to work well with people and companies from different cultures, mindsets, and experiences. Collaborating with different stakeholders, including government officials, and contacts in the business, university, and non-profit fields, also taught me empathy and understanding of the different needs from each group.
From our experiences, we now come to share a few reminders that goes a long way when we are helping our clients prepare themselves for communicating successfully across cultures:
1. Be an Observer: To be consciously aware of habits and norms of an unfamiliar culture, and making an effort to embody these differences and fit yourself in. Leveraging diversity by cultivating powerful relationships will ease interactions and motivate both sides to collaborate successfully and get business done effortlessly. Daniel Goleman, NYT best-seller author, brings this as one crucial element on emotional and social competence across cultures.
2. Know your customer’s needs: To anticipate, recognize, and meet the needs of your international public are essential for achieving powerful relationships, and working with others towards a common goal. On this, you must do your homework and study the culture of the company/start-up, the country (or countries) where the company/start-up is based at (or if they are expanding to new markets) and connect with people at a deeper level. Be prepared to research, write it down on paper, and ask meaningful and clarifying questions along the way, as it is in your best interest to avoid miscommunication, while being comfortable on acting on new opportunities. If you can’t speak the language that your partners or clients speak in their countries, seek a valid translator to help you understand clearly the messages and communication channels you establish with them.
3. Share your knowledge, in a calm and mindful way: Focus on being authentic, humble, and present while sharing your knowledge with others. This may be the best piece of advice when working with different backgrounds, communicating across cultures, and creating a group synergy in pursuing a collaborative goal. This is also true in the case of a job interview. Take your time and make sure you calmly present yourself and your background, while being open-minded throughout the conversation. Our top guidance here: do a short mindful breathing exercise before the talks begin, by grounding yourself first with a complete circle of 3 full inhale-exhale-breaths, and then, allow yourself to execute the mindful talk, while listening mindfully as well. Having a glass of water handy is always a helpful tip for this communication to flow effortlessly for you.
4. Send convincing messages, while staying true to yourself and others: Mutual trust is the result of a well-established strong connection, where people generate and maintain healthy standards of honesty and ethics. When working across cultures, this might be more challenging. By being positive, collaborating well, respecting one another and making sure you communicate through your words and body language, chances are that you are sending convincing messages to your diverse public, wherever they might be located. Our top guidance here is: be aware of yourself and others, remembering that staying true to yourself while listening attentively through cognitive empathy (sensing the feelings and perspectives of others, and acting – or reacting – in consideration to those) will provide you with key benefits and results in your cross-cultural communication efforts.
5. Be punctual: Remember that everybody is important. It is best to arrive earlier and wait (be it for meetings in person or virtually), than to make others wait for you. Don’t perceive to be indispensable, or perhaps arrogant (under some cultures’ viewpoint) by making others wait for your presence. Remember that you want to avoid any kind of cultural shock and minimize misunderstandings while working for/or with global businesses.
These five global rules of thumb on cross-cultural communication are simply a starting-point to navigate better when doing business across cultures. Being ready and adaptable to change will also help you inspire and lead others locally and abroad, along with validating your social-emotional competencies.
Now, to illustrate in practice how these skills have been used in our work, we want to highlight two concrete examples of assisting worldwide clients:
In cross-cultural coaching and mentoring programs (be it in 1:1 and/or in group and e-learning programs), we have helped many clients of Brain U Coaching to position themselves better while transitioning to new markets and moving up in their careers.
Recently, one client with plans to relocate from Brazil to Canada, needed not only to work on his verbal and written language proficiency, but also on how his leadership skills, including nonverbal communication and social and emotional intelligence, would benefit his move the most. After some valuable feedback provided to the client, while participating in our most recent “1:1 Cross-Cultural Outplacement Program,” he was listening more attentively (active listening), rather than responding too quickly, and also making sure the other party (including new colleagues and clients) was understanding him better (double checking meanings with the powerful questions coaching method). These different skillsets will help him better adapt to the new challenges and opportunities that Canada will bring to him.
In international business dealings, we have spoken with and supported several international companies looking to expand their products or services into new markets. In most all of the cases, we have had to identify some of the most effective and risk-adverse approach to enter these new markets. Some of these strategies included partnering with a local partner, who can guide the international company in terms of local culture and customs, and on how best to prepare its marketing and distribution operations in the new market. Communicating clearly, not only in the native language of the market, but also through the most appropriate channels used, has helped several of these companies succeed in the initial business opportunities for their products and services.
This is a co-authored article by authors:
Fernanda Cristina Alem Freitas (Fernanda Alem) is the Founder and Leader Trainer of Brain U Coaching, a Brazilian-based training company with a virtual presence. She also runs the bilingual Brain U Coaching YouTube Channel. With over 20 years of cross-cultural legal business experience, Fernanda is originally a Lawyer in Brazil, and a Special Legal Consultant, D.C. Bar, in Washington, D.C., holding her LL.M. in International Banking and Financial Law from Boston University, and compliance and negotiations’ specializations degrees. She is licensed as Personal and Executive Coach, and as Mental Skills Coach; she is a member of the International Coach Federation (ICF), and she is recognized as international speaker, having also published articles in Brazil and abroad. Fernanda has been selected for the 2020 USTA Leadership Academy Program – Cohort #1 in connection with leadership, volunteer programming and sports growth in the tennis industry, and she is also a reference as leadership mentor, being most recently selected as a member of the international judging committee for the 15th edition of the Talent and Innovation Competition of the Americas (TIC Americas) and the Eco-Challenge 11.0, international initiatives focused on entrepreneurship, bio-leadership and innovation. The author may be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rafael Pinto is the Founder and Director of Occasio International Advisory Services (Occasio), a company based in Brazil, but with an international reach and experience. Over the past 18 years, Rafael has worked on developing and supporting different programs in the areas of entrepreneurship, training, and business development in countries all over the Americas region. Rafael studied at St. Louis University – Madrid Campus and Florida International University for his Bachelor’s degree in International Relations, and at American University for his Master’s degree in Development Management. Rafael also serves as a Strategic Advisor for the Young Americas Business Trust, and is one of the Directors at the LatAm Startups organization. The author may be reached at: email@example.com