Our world is getting smaller. Our nations and communities are becoming more diverse. For example, my hometown now has a level of diversity more like a large city than a midwestern suburb. And it’s a better place because of it.
But the more we work with people from cultures different than our own, the more hurdles we face. So, here are some suggestions to be successful as you ork with people from a variety of cultures.
The first rule in working with people from other cultures is to know their culture. Do your homework. Get to know all you can about them. It’s best if you can speak their language. If not, hire someone who can.
When you understand your client’s culture you can position yourself to build a trusting relationship. Do this by finding connecting points with them. Connecting points are areas where your culture overlaps with theirs. Show them you understand their culture by demonstrating the similarities between yours and theirs.
Meet in person whenever possible.
This enables you to use non-verbal communication cues. It reduces the potential for misunderstandings. Also, this helps you to match their pace better. Different cultures often have different paces in how they make decisions. You build more trust and credibility when you match their pace.
Be extra clear when working with clients from another culture. Put things in writing and use visuals. Confirm that you understand them and they understand you.
Reach out to different cultures by getting involved.
Join their groups, support their causes. Sponsor events and fundraisers. Be consistent and show them you’re there for the long term. Participate in their communities first, before you try to do business. Some cultures trust easily and quickly. Others take more time. Put the people and the relationship before the transaction.
People from other cultures are not different. But their experiences and expectations are. Like all clients, the better you understand them the better you can serve them.