We are here now because Marianne gave a course on Cultural Differences and Good Communications in the workplace to about 75 engineers. They say that training a group of engineers in so called soft skills is a challenge.
Understanding cultural differences and how to communicate is essential to doing a good job professionally and completely in a corporate milieu where there are mixed cultures.
We have written a lot about communication skills before so will only speak about cultural differences and how they affect your life and job performance. However, remember that good communication skills are an important part of all of this.
The leading guru internationally in the area of the importance of cultural differences in the workplace is Dr. Geert Hofstede who came out with the Five Dimensions of Culture in a report in 1970 which he has revised and updated since, the last being 2010.
This tool is very useful to understanding core differences between cultures and helps on two main points. The first is to understand ourselves and how we think and behave. The second is to give us useful information about other cultures we may work with. This understanding leads us to better possibilities for teamwork and improved individual and company performance.
Regarding the first point, in life in general and on the job specifically, you must understand how you think and behave at a deep cultural level to know how or what you must change to get to the new destination. In other words, "here I am where I think and function like this" but want to get over "there", the corporate culture for example, therefore I must change certain beliefs and behaviours to complement the corporate culture not work against it.
This has implications for both management and the workforce. Management may need to adjust its style to get the most out of the employment relationship. The employees may need to adjust their thinking and actions. Adjusting means taking action to implement the understanding, not just logical or academic understanding.
Learning to be truly mindful about your own culture and the others culture is the same process in any relationship, on the job, at home or socially. Being more aware of your self and the others always gives the possibility for improved relationships and performance therefore improving the happiness quotient. Here I refer to cooperation and teamwork.
This raises the question, "What does it mean or look like to be truly mindful of the others in a relationship? I will talk about this another day.
Learn about yourself and build mindful relationships!
Live, love and laugh, Marianne and Bob
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