In order to work productively with foreigners, it is not enough that you have passable English proficiency; you need to also understand how cultural differences may impact the way of working and the management style. Moreover, to avoid misunderstanding and confusion in working with them, it is imperative that you be open to accepting and harnessing diversity and that you have a good understanding of culturally distinct gestures and mannerisms.
We offer this seminar in three forms. The first one below would be perfect as part of training before you are relocated to an overseas office, whereas the second and third forms are designed to improve your global talent in working with foreigners in general.
- 1. Hofstede’s six-dimensions model for national culture
- 2. Cross-cultural communication seminar
- 3. Global communication seminar
1. Hofstede’s six-dimensions model for national culture
It is a tool to compare the cultural values of different nations by focusing on six dimensions (indexes) based on the national average scores of independent preferences for one state of affairs over another that distinguish countries from one another. By focusing on the core values of culture and describing them numerically, it helps us figure out the optimally effective way of working with people from different cultures, thus optimizing international teamwork.
The six indexes are as follows.
- – Power Distance Index
- – Individualism vs Collectivism
- – Masculinity vs Femininity
- – Uncertainty Avoidance Index
- – Long-term Orientation vs Short-term Orientation
- – Indulgence
For example, we Japanese, who score high on the uncertainty avoidance index, tend to be extremely cautious. We refrain from starting a new project until and unless we first discuss the matter thoroughly and minimize risk taking. This naturally leads to conflict when we work with someone from a country with a low score on the uncertainty avoidance index, for they are inclined to give the new project a chance, thinking that, if it doesn’t work, they can try out some other method. Whereas we Japanese prefer to spend more time thinking, they are impatient to try it out and get moving. Our degree of uncertainty avoidance can be a major source of frustration for our partners in a borderless project. However, what if we start with the clear understanding beforehand that our scores on the uncertainty avoidance index are wide apart? The knowledge will surely get us to accept our cultural differences at the outset so we may objectively deal with the issue without becoming emotional.
Through repeated exercises with case studies using Hofstede’s model, we will learn to put aside negative emotions stemming from cultural clashes and, instead, to analyze why and how the conflict has emerged. By taking a problem-solving approach, therefore, productivity is bound to improve.
A typical one-day seminar will go through the following steps.
- – The six-dimensions model
- – Dimensions (indexes): Exercises
- – Combining dimensions (indexes)
- – Combining dimensions (indexes): Exercises
- – Mental image (grouping by cultural tendencies)
- – Mental image (grouping by cultural tendencies): Exercises
- – Conclusion
2. Cross-cultural communication seminar
Differences in day-to-day habits can also create obstacles in working with or in foreign countries. This seminar will help you develop the flexibility to cope with unexpected circumstances by first explaining in concrete terms what the differences are and how they manifest themselves so you can work with foreigners more effectively and more productively, and then getting you to analyze actual case studies of misunderstanding and to figure out how to solve such problems.
The seminar will take up several factors prone to ensue in problems when we Japanese work with people from other cultures without paying attention to the cultural differences that lie between us.
- a) Expectations for punctuality
- b) Attention to precision
- c) Stress on the process
- d) Differences in day-to-day gestures and mannerisms (keeping eye contact, nodding repetitively during conversation, etc.)
Case study (outline):
At the Thai subsidiary, the Japanese vice president gets upset with local employees who are chronically late for work. With his Japanese mind-set, he tells them in no uncertain terms that they must report to work by the official start time no matter what. It results in a third of them leaving the company in six months. Now, why did it turn out this way? What would be a win-win solution for both parties in such a scenario?
To work productively in a diverse office environment, it is important that you abstain from imposing your own culture and values. In this seminar, you will exercise out-of-the-box thinking so you may flexibly cope with unexpected circumstances and situations unthinkable in Japan.
In terms of the actual seminar, we can structure it to flexibly meet your objective. Thus, we may conduct a brief exercise after learning about Hofstede’s intercultural model. Alternatively, if you wish to exercise out-of-the-box thinking with case studies, we can offer a series of two-hour sessions or a one-day seminar.
3. Global communication seminar
This seminar, comprised of a series of sessions, is designed to train you in the skills required to work effectively with foreigners, such as assertiveness, logical thinking, and presentation. Click here for details.