One of CORE’s signature offerings is intercultural training for businesses. Our intercultural training programs are designed to go hand-in-hand with corporate language training programs, but we’ve found that our clients are sometimes unfamiliar with intercultural training and the value it offers to businesses operating in the international arena.
Simply put, intercultural training — which can also be called cross-cultural or multicultural training — educates employees on the cultural differences between countries or world regions, with the goal of preparing them for smooth, successful communication in international business settings. Intercultural training programs cover areas such as business etiquette in the target culture; how to greet and introduce oneself to peers; norms for speaking and negotiating in meetings; and major cultural faux pas that could damage a business relationship.
For example, in China, it is considered impolite to hand out your business cards casually and shove those you receive in return into your pocket. Instead, proper etiquette indicates that you should give and receive cards using both hands, and take the time to study each card you are given as a sign of respect to the person you are meeting. You should stand while exchanging your cards, and put those you have received and read into a card case rather than a pocket or wallet.
In Mexico, building strong relationships with those you do business with is considered paramount. Business meetings will often begin with personal conversation about family, travel, or the weather. Because politeness goes a long way and building a friendly relationship is critical, business meetings will often progress at a slower pace than they do in the United States, and it will serve you well to avoid being overly direct in negotiations.
When a team or employee is sent abroad or designated to handle intercultural communication with clients or partners, they are representing your company in a high-stakes situation. This type of relevant cultural knowledge can improve your team’s ability to interact politely and professionally in international business settings, and to ultimately achieve their objectives in the meeting or negotiation. Intercultural training sessions may also expound on the broader cultural elements that necessitate these actions. An intercultural training program goes beyond the basics of presenting your business cards in China to explain that hierarchy, respect, and belonging are highly valued in Chinese culture, and are often acknowledged through body language. Accordingly, presenting your business card with both hands and accept theirs in the same fashion, you are physically conveying your high regard, interest, and courtesy toward them — not merely engaging in a business ritual.
Intercultural training also increases employee confidence while operating within a new and different cultural context. It’s nerve-wracking to be conducting business in a foreign country and with people from a culture very different than one’s own, but it should also be an exciting time: your organization is entrusting them with the responsibility of representing the organization abroad. That’s an honor, and intercultural training equips participants with the tools, self-awareness, and cultural sensitivity to confidently navigate new situations and capitalize on the opportunity they’ve been given.
Lastly, it’s important to recognize that intercultural training and cultural sensitivity are important for all employees, regardless of rank in the organization. Your top executive and your newest hire might require the same level of intercultural training when being assigned to an international project. And even your most polite and easygoing employee could end up being a liability. Just because they get along with everyone in the office in Boston, doesn’t mean they’ll get along with everyone they meet in Buenos Aires… without the proper training, that is.
CORE’s intercultural training programs are customizable for any two countries/cultures, and can have specialized tracks for business, law, medicine, and other fields. Contact us to discuss your needs and receive a custom quote.