Need to bridge the cultural barrier through cross cultural sensitivity


By Jagdeep Kaur

The way the world conducts business has rapidly changed over the past several decades. Communication has been the buzzword to make the world more connected resulting in impressive growth world over. But to have a lasting favorable business relationship across different countries, it is imperative to have cross- cultural awareness in general. An appreciation for cultural diversity is an essential ingredient for business success. This shall help business relationships to evolve with time.

Prime focus need to be put in ensuring that cultural training needs are identified and implemented.In order to address this issue, it is primarily important to have a thorough understanding of a given country’s cultural background. Generally a lot of our perceptions about other cultures are built on isolated incidents or other people’s second hand opinion. This creates a strain because we tend to judge other cultures without really reasoning or understanding their behavior.

To understand cultures better we need to understand how people perceive others. Every person is defined by his culture. We being outside one’s culture recognize certain aspects which are just the tip of the iceberg whereas there is a lot more which defines the behavior embedded in the culture that does not appear on the surface.

We need to delve deep into that hidden part to understand what makes people behave differently. We need to focus on various cultural variables to understand the basis on which people differ. It is important to understand that people differ not just between cultures but within cultures as well.Sometimes having a common language, becomes a roadblock ratherthan being a merit, as it overshadows the difference in the thought process and the way of doing things, because of which business is being performed in a different stride all together.

But when we understand the existence of cultural variableswhich are easily distinguishable, we appreciate the differences in culture. Other factors like one’s personality, the organizational setting to which he belongs and circumstances which one encounters further accounts for varied behaviors.

And then individuals more readily accept the need to understand the motivations of the other party. Such attitude of individuals where understanding others culture only when it is obviously showing and not otherwise is hampering the team spirit and is giving way to poor relationships, low productivity, distrust and loss of financial gain.

Being an international HR Consulting organization, we stress on cross culture sensitivity training as a must –to promote healthy, long run global businesses.

Jagdeep KaurTo mention a few steps in order to ensure better cross cultural interaction, one should avoid making quick generalizations about others culture. There are people coming from different cultures so their behavior should not be misconstrued as rudeness, instead their cultural background should be considered in such cases. A perception that we form of people should be over-ruled by clarifying why such a behavior is displayed.

Most of the times a paraphrasing of the conversation is the best option to adhere to so that any misunderstanding of what one heard/perceived to what the other said could be clarified and not be misinterpreted.

Empathizing has been a great mode of building comfort zones among people. A proper cross cultural training can help individuals in avoiding blunders and helps them professionally. It also brings about personal knowledge which deepens understanding of others, thereby promoting increased level of international relations and prosperity.

( Jagdeep Kaur is the Vice President at HR Globe Consulting. She can be reached at


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