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Cross Cultural Working


Cross cultural communication at work in order to be effective and productive must be managed. This means ensuring that staff, managers and senior employees all appreciate what it takes to work with (and in) different cultures. Such an appreciation may come naturally to people, such as those that are well travelled, those with mixed heritage or simply those that have good communication skills; others however are less flexible and may struggle to show empathy towards others or something different. Although it is the latter that may need the more specialist attention, all employees benefit from learning about cross cultural communication at work.

Course Aim

This course centres on the impact of culture upon communication in the workplace, and how different cultures view their cultural norms of communication as being ‘normal’ and therefore other styles as ‘abnormal’.

It helps participants address this problem, giving them greater understanding of both communication styles and how these effect the different ways different nationals will approach leadership, meetings, negotiations, etc.

Course Objectives

By the end of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Define ‘What is Culture?’
  • List the generic cultural traits of the people with whom they work
  • Demonstrate an understanding of culture and its impact upon the working environment
  • Demonstrate improved communication skills in a cross cultural environment
  • Explain the different styles of working with people of different cultures
  • Solve communication problems that occur due to culture
  • Manage challenging situations that may be caused by differences in culture

Course Content

Day One - An Introduction to Cross Cultural Working

  • What is culture?
  • Understanding our personal cultural heritage
  • What is an ‘organisational culture’?
    • Does your company have a ‘culture?’
  • How does a country culture impact on organisational culture and vice versa
  • Why we feel comfortable with some cultures, but not others
  • Why do we feel comfortable being communicated to/with in certain ways and not others
  • Cultural stereotypes and exploring their myths and realities
    • UIs your behaviour typical?
    • How are you perceived?
    • How do you perceive others?
  • Objective versus subjective culture
  • Where culture comes from
    • Values
    • Beliefs
    • Religion
    • Location
  • Culture as a norm of distribution
  • Improving business communication across cultures: exploring our core beliefs and attitudes

During this session participants will be able to access generic cultural differences of a range of different countries. These can be tailored to ones that course participants my deal with on a day to day basis

This course uses the models developed by Trompenaar and Hofstede and Richard D. Lewis. As such it covers understanding cultural difference in a number of dimensions:

  • Uncertainty avoidance
  • Masculinity/feminity
  • Power distance
  • High context/low context
  • Individualism/collectivism
  • Achievement/ascription
  • Time consciousness (monochronic vs polychronic chronemics)
  • Personal Space (personal/physical proxemics)
  • Touch and culture (haptics)
  • Clothing and personal display
  • Gesture
  • Gaze
  • Facial expression

Day Two - The Basics of Effective Cross Cultural Communication

  • Questionnaire: Are you an effective communicator?
  • What is effective communication?
  • The communication Process
  • Barriers to communication: Culture; Style; Assumptions
  • Ways to overcome the barriers
  • The communication cycle
  • Generalisation/deletion and distortion
  • Listening and responding
  • Active versus passive listening
  • Introduction to asking questions
  • Duplication and repeating what has been said
  • Understanding what others say
  • Acknowledging other people and giving them space
  • My personal impact during communication
  • Thinking about the message and responding

Managing Across Cultures

  • Management styles and their cultural impact
    • Is it you?
  • Differing relationships with authority across cultures
    • Colleague to colleague
    • Manager to subordinate
    • Subordinate to manage
  • Management Practices across cultures (practices sessions)
    • listening styles;
    • meetings styles;
    • decision making styles;
    • relationship building;
    • feedback;
    • leadership and coaching
  • Managing your experience of the cultural difference
    • Impact on:
      • You
      • Colleagues
      • Company
  • Approaches to managing the staffing differences
    • Embracing diversity
    • Encouraging co-operation
    • Breaking down the barriers
  • Managing people problems across cultures, and cross cultural flashpoints
    • Preventing Conflict
    • Managing Conflict


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