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Cross cultural differences can and do impede upon communication and interpersonal relationships. In the business world this occurs daily, where people from different cultures interact and are expected to perform and make decisions. Cross cultural training aims to develop awareness between people where a common cultural framework does not exist in order to promote clear lines of communication and better relationships.
Cross cultural training has many benefits to be gained by both participants and businesses. For participants in cross cultural training, the 10 main benefits are that it helps:
People Learn About Themselves: Through cross cultural training, people are exposed to facts and information about their own cultures, preconceptions, mentalities and worldviews that they may otherwise not have contemplated. Cross cultural training helps people learn more about themselves through learning about others.
Encourage Confidence: Cross cultural training promotes self-confidence in individuals and teams through empowering them with a sense of control over previously difficult challenges in the workplace.
Break Down Barriers: All of us have certain barriers such as preconceptions, prejudices and stereotypes that obstruct our understanding of other people. Cross cultural training demystifies other cultures through presenting them under an objective light. Through learning about other cultures, barriers are slowly chipped away thus allowing for more open relationships and dialogue.
Build Trust: When people's barriers are lowered, mutual understanding ensues, which results in greater trust. Once trust is established altruistic tendencies naturally manifest allowing for greater co-operation and a more productive workplace.
Motivate: One of the outcomes of cross cultural training is that people begin to see their roles within the workplace more clearly. Through self-analysis people begin to recognise areas in which they need to improve and become motivated to develop and progress.
Open Horizons: Cross cultural training addresses problems in the workplace at a very different angle to traditional methods. Its innovative, alternative and motivating way of analysing and resolving problems helps people to adopt a similarly creative strategy when approaching challenges in their work or personal lives.
Develop Interpersonal Skills: Through cross cultural training participants develop great 'people skills' that can be applied in all walks of life. By learning about the influence of culture, i.e. the hidden factors upon people's behaviours, those who undertake cross cultural training begin to deal with people with a sensitivity and understanding that may have previously been lacking.
Develop Listening Skills: Listening is an integral element of effective and productive communication. Cross cultural training helps people to understand how to listen, what to listen for and how to interpret what they hear within a much broader framework of understanding. By becoming good listeners, people naturally become good communicators.
People Use Common Ground: In the workplace people have a tendency to focus on differences. When cross cultural communication problems arise the natural inclination is to withdraw to opposing sides and to highlight the negative aspects of the other. Cross cultural training assists in developing a sense of mutual understanding between people by highlighting common ground. Once spaces of mutual understanding are established, people begin to use them to overcome culturally challenging situations.
Career Development: Cross cultural training enhances people's skills and therefore future employment opportunities. Having cross cultural awareness gives people a competitive edge over others especially when applying for positions in international companies with a large multi-cultural staff base.
The above benefits are but a few of the many ways in which cross cultural training positively affects businesses through staff training and development.
Neil Payne is Managing Director of Kwintessential. Visit their site at: http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/cross-cultural/cross-cultural-awareness.html
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