A team is a group of people working towards a common goal. \

A team is a group of people working towards a common goal. 'Team Building' is the process of enabling that group of people to reach their goal. The stages involved in team building are: to clarify the team goals


Business English

Cross-Cultural Communications (Part II)

Cross-Cultural Communications (Part II)

1. Cross-cultural Team Building

What is cross-cultural Team Building?

A team is a group of people working towards a common goal.

'Team Building' is the process of enabling that group of people to reach their goal.

The stages involved in team building are:

  • to clarify the team goals

  • to identify those issues which inhibit the team from reaching their goals

  • to address those issues, remove the inhibitors and enable the goals to be achieved

^ 2. Team-building tips

Ready to build the ultimate work team to take on the competition?

Make sure you know the rules of the game.

Brush up on your coaching skills and lead your team to victory.

Here are four team-building tips:

      • Defined goals and objectives are crucial. A team's success also depends on common goals and a shared vision.

      • Everything has to do with the leader.

      • Individuals need feedback. Sure, they're working as part of a team, but every individual needs to know where they stand.

      • Progress reports keep the team on track. Monitoring the team's development through status updates and progress reports is vital.

(taken from www.Business.English.Training.com)

^ 3. Recognizing the role of culture

* Effective managers can recognize and adapt to different work styles and cultures. How can you be effective?

  • many cultural norms influence a manager's behaviour and subsequent reactions, five particularly important ones are:

  • hierarchy and status

  • groups vs. individual orientation

  • time consciousness

  • communication

  • conflict resolution

By failing to understand how culture impacts on individual needs and preferences, managers often misinterpret behaviour!

^ 4. Adapting to different work styles and cultures

Hierarchy and status

  • If you want all people to feel valued and to participate in problem solving or decision making, differences in this norm could be inhibiting so you must be aware of them.

^ 5. Adapting to different work styles and cultures (2)

Group vs. individual orientation

  • The manager also may need to structure a climate that balances preferences for group and individual work.

  • A culturally competent manager will create opportunities for individuals to take some risks and explore projects that don't require coordinating with others.

  • However, when managers place too much importance on avoiding workplace conflict, even individualistic employees may be discouraged from providing potentially constructive feedback.

^ 6. Adapting to different work styles and cultures (3)

Time Consciousness

  • Time-conscious managers may see people whose cultures take a more relaxed view toward deadlines as being less committed to team goals, as well as less dependable, accountable and reliable.

  • Remember that each culture has different rules of behaviour and interprets behaviour through that lens!

^ 7. Adapting to different work styles and cultures (4)


  • If you are a direct communicator, you probably expect a "tell it like it is," response from the employee.

  • But the employee may be an indirect communicator who expects you to read the contextual clues to understand his response.

^ 8. Adapting to different work styles and cultures (5)

Conflict resolution

  • Your egalitarian approach and individualistic orientation implies teamwork between manager and employees; you expect people to think and speak for themselves.

  • But for staff members with a more hierarchical and group orientation, taking the initiative to make suggestions to an authority figure would be awkward for all involved.

  • They may expect YOU as the manager to demonstrate your leadership by making decisions and giving directions.

(taken from : Cross-Cultural Awareness. Effective managers can recognize and adapt to different work styles and cultures. Author/s: Lee Gardenswartz, Anita Rowe, Issue: March, 2001)

^ 9. Cultural idioms : What is an idiom?

Idioms are words, phrases, or expressions that cannot be taken literally. In other words, when used in everyday language, they have a meaning other than the basic one you would find in the dictionary.

Every language has its own idioms. Learning them makes understanding and using a language a lot easier and more fun!

E.g. ^ I was thrown in at the deep end when my company sent me to run the German office. I was only given two days’ notice to prepare.

Literal meaning: to be pushed into the deepest part of a swimming pool or body of water

Idiomatic meaning: to be given a difficult job to do without preparation

^ 10. Cultural idioms : examples

  • We don’t see eye to eye about relocating our factory. The Finance Director wants to move production to the Far East, but I want it to remain in Spain.

Idiomatic meaning: to disagree with someone

  • I got into hot water with my boss for wearing casual clothes to the meeting with our Milanese customers.

Idiomatic meaning: to get into trouble

^ 11. Cultural idioms : examples

  • Small talk is one way to break the ice when meeting someone for the first time.

Idiomatic meaning: to make someone you have just met less nervous and more willing to talk

  • I really put my foot in it when I met our Japanese partner. Because I was nervous, I said ‘Who are you?’ rather than ‘How are you?’

Idiomatic meaning: to say or do something without thinking carefully, so that you embarrass or upset someone.

^ 12. Cultural idioms : example

  • When I visited China for the first time I was like a fish out of water. Everything was so different, and I couldn’t read any of the signs!

Idiomatic meaning: to feel uncomfortable in an unfamiliar situation.

  • My first meeting with our overseas clients was a real eye-opener. I had not seen that style of negotiation before.

Idiomatic meaning: an experience where you learn something surprising or something you did not know before.

^ 13. Cross-cultural Negotiating

  • While it is difficult to characterize any national or cultural approach to negotiation, generalizations are frequently drawn.

  • These generalizations are helpful but remember :

  • They are only guides, not recipes! Any generalization holds true or not depending on many contextual factors including time, setting, situation, stakes, history between the parties, nature of the issue, individual preferences, interpersonal dynamics and mood.

^ 14. Culture-based negotiation styles

When negotiating with people from a different country remember that they may see things in a very different way from you! You will avoid making negative judgements and make better progress!

15. Cultural differences which may affect negotiating styles include :

Time orientations

Space orientations

Nonverbal communication

Power Distance

Uncertainty Avoidance


^ 16. Time Orientations 1: 2 orientations to time: monochronic and polychronic

Monochronic approaches to time = linear, sequential, focusing on one thing at a time

Monochronic countries = United States, Germany, Switzerland, Scandinavia, Japan

Polychronic approaches to time = simultaneous occurrences of many things and many people

Polychronic countries = France, Italy, Greece, Mexico, some Eastern and African countries

^ 17. Nonverbal Communication

The use of silence

  • Japanese

Use the most silence

  • Americans

A moderate amount of silence

  • Brazilians

Almost none at all

Silence can have different meanings in different cultures!

^ 18. Power distance

Culture and power distance

  • Cultures where there is comfort with high power distance are those where some people are considered superior due to social status, gender, race etc.

  • Cultures with low power distance tend to assume equality among people, they focus more on earned status.

^ 19. Uncertainty avoidance

  • Countries showing the most discomfort with ambiguity and uncertainty: Arab, Muslim and African countries

  • conformity

  • safety

  • risk avoidance

  • formal rules and rituals

  • Countries with higher tolerance for uncertainty: United States, Singapore Scandinavia

  • risk-taking

  • problem-solving

  • flat organizational structures

  • tolerance for ambiguity

20. Masculinity-Femininity

  • Degree to which a culture values assertiveness or nurturing & social support

  • Degree to which socially prescribed roles operate for men and women

  • Japan and Latin America

  • Assertiveness, task-orientation, achievement

  • Scandinavia, Thailand and Portugal

  • Cooperation, nurturing, relationship solidarity with less fortunate, “work to live” ethic

^ 21. Cross-cultural Negotiations : indicators of success

Key indicators of success








Preparation and planning skill

Dedication to job

Persistence and determination

Preparation and planning skill

Thinking under pressure

Perceive and exploit power

Win respect and confidence

Thinking under pressure

Judgement and intelligence

Win respect and confidence

Preparation and planning skill

Judgement and intelligence

Verbal expressiveness


Product knowledge

Verbal expressiveness

Product Knowledge

Demonstrate listening skill


Product knowledge

Perceive and exploit power

Broad perspective

Judgement and intelligence

Perceive and exploit power


Verbal expressiveness


^ 22. U.S. Approaches to Negotiation

  • competitive

  • energetic, confident, persistent

  • concentrate on one problem at a time

  • focus on areas of disagreement

  • like closure and certainty

23. European Styles of Negotiation

  • vary according to region, nationality, language etc.

  • French : aggressive, use threats, warnings, interruptions to achieve goals

  • German and British : moderately aggressive

24. Japanese Styles of Negotiation

  • Focus on group goals

  • Interdependence

  • Hierarchical orientation

  • Politeness

  • Emphasis on establishing relationships

  • Indirect use of power

  • Concern with face and face-saving

  • Disclose less about themselves than the French and Americans

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