Cross-Culture

By focusing on the cultural roots of national behavior, both in society and business, we can foresee and calculate with a surprising degree of accuracy how others will react to our plans for them, and we can make certain assumptions as to how they will approach us.
Richard D. Lewis

Over a decade ago I was working at a European head office of an American multinational. One of the persons I worked with was a director from Germany. She was excellent in her work and passionate about it. Also, she was a great person to work with. Once she had to give a presentation to the CEO of the company who was American. She decided to meet the CEO the day before the presentation and showed him the slides. He quickly scanned them and said: “Looks good but have a good look at slides 16 and 17”. She took the advice, studied slides 16 and 17 and convinced herself that she was well capable of explaining all the information on those two slides. The next day she presents the slides to the CEO and the other senior leaders in the room. When she got to slides 16 and 17 she did a good job at presenting them but nonetheless the CEO went mad. Totally surprised she did her best to finish the presentation and left the room. Next thing she walked into my office and told me what happened. “He told me to have a good look at slides 16 and 17 and I did. I capably presented them. What did I do wrong?” We then had a brief conversation about the Germans being direct in their feedback and the Americans being much more indirect. The CEO wanted her to take those 2 slides out. She understood that she needed to be able to meticulously explain and defend what was shown on them.

This was one of many situations where I experienced how cultural differences can have a significant impact in seemingly insignificant conversations. Since then I ever wanted to know more about cultural differences and how to succesfully interact with people from different cultural backgrounds. In over a decade I worked at a few multinationals and loved working in multicultural teams. This is where I learned that curiousity – the willingness to learn about and understand the other – is key in being a successful cross-cultural collaborator.

In the cross-cultural collaboration workshops or training that I do for organizations, I create tailor-made learning experiences where interactive exercises deepen the theory that I share with participants. I work with groups between 10 and 100 people. My aim is that people enjoy collaborating with other cultures more. I do this by instilling curiousity, creating awareness and providing tools.

Feel free to reach out to me if you would like to have more information on how to develop your cross-cultural collaboration skills.