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The art of adapting to a different culture

With the advent of globalization countries have lost their boundaries and the world has transformed into one large global village and the numbers of globetrotters have immensely increased.

When these people move from one country to another on of the most important thing that they need to learn about is how they would adapt to the cultures of the countries they are visiting. But two questions that would pop up in your mind are…

How is culture related to business effectiveness?

Cultures have guidelines for communication and behavior based on certain expectations and assumptions. Those expectations and assumptions, in turn, are rooted in the common values and historical experiences of the people within that cultural group.

While every culture has both explicit and implicit guidelines, they vary from one culture to the next. To most outsiders of a given culture, the guidelines are unknown or seem unclear and inconsistent.

What is often missing from the crucial knowledge base of the international businessperson is a basic awareness that every culture is a different game, with a different set of rules for play. People who do business in a culture that is not their own are frequently expected to function according to this set of guidelines and rules. Ignoring these rules, or trying to bypass them, can often produce disastrous results. At best, a project does not run smoothly. Sometimes negotiations break down and potential business is lost. At worst, a joint venture collapses midstream, and human and financial capital investments are lost forever.

How can Culture interaction benefit my company and me?

Culture Interaction will help you define the strategy for achieving your worldwide business goals, and develop the skills to implement change.

Whether you are, gathering data, negotiating business deals, marketing products, building customer relationships, developing intercultural workteams, enhancing project implementation and customer service capabilities. Culture Interaction prepares you, your colleagues and your employees to interact with others who are different.

Mr.Vachaparampil Mathew, International Manager Marketing for Case Corporation-Wisconsin, shares his globe trotting experience with us. Mr.Mathew has visited countries like France, U.S.A. and Australia and has provided us valuable insights on how to adapt to the foreign cultures.

According to him, culture has 2 divisions –

1. The work culture

2. The social culture.

The social aspect of culture invariably influences one’s work culture and it is all the more important to learn about this.

A few tips for globe trotters…

  • Before stepping into the country do a lot of reading. Read up the do’s and don’ts in that country. Read about their history, social practices, food and dressing habits etc. So that when you step into that country you don’t feel alienated.

  • Once you are there, try not to look for Indians (only). This restricts your learning process. Try a best to mingle with the local people. Never let your skincolour come inbetween your interaction process.

  • Lastly he says " Involve yourself totally with their local culture, food, sports and get to know the history and heritage of the country " – (it certainly helps).

Each and every country that Mr.Mathew has visited has been a novel experience for him. U.S. had been a "Just do it" culture, Australia had been more hierarchical work culture and the French ways of dressing, their polished mannerisms were totally varied. But his attitude towards culture has helped him in giving him a cutting edge in doing his business and you can make it work for you too.

So, once you know you are going to set your foot outside your homeland, think of these tips, make a conscious effort to learn more and make your visit a workwhile learning experience. Bon Voyage!

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