Why Understanding Culture is Important

As you probably already know, Global Business Approach Inc is about helping others to understand culture and how cultural differences can be barriers to successful cross-cultural interactions, especially business interactions. Why is that? After all, this day in age, aren’t we pretty much more alike? Aren’t other people around the world “just like us”?  Well, if you are meaning from an egalitarian perspective, certainly, all people are equal. But equal does not mean same. If social interactions can be compared to driving a car, then our culture defines the “rules of the  road”. Each country – and different parts within a country – has its own rules for driving. If we visit another country and hop into a car and start driving without knowing the rules, we risk a crash (especially if you go to a country that drives on the opposite side of the road). So it is with social interactions.

It can often be difficult enough when dealing with people from our own culture, we all experienced people that we just didn’t get along with, it usually is much worse when dealing with those from other cultures. The problem stems often from the mindset of “people everywhere are just like us”. See, when we think someone is just like us, we expect from them to act according to our cultural values, and when they don’t when think they are unsociable, they are weak or autocratic leaders, insubordinate or disrespectful followers, they are lazy and don’t value work – or too uptight and think of work too much. While at the same time, they have similar feelings towards us, because we aren’t acting in accordance with their expectations. In business settings, if this continues, often the business, the team, breaks down, all parties walk away thinking people from X culture just can’t be worked with.

Cultural training intends to help business leaders, managers, employees, and others involved in cross-cultural interactions that, while people may be equal, culturally they are different and more often than not, these differences matter. At Global Business Approach Inc., we train to others to understand what culture is and why it matters, the dimensions of culture. We instill the mindset that people from other cultures will interact differently than them, to be patient when it happens. We also train how to recognize and identify where a particular culture falls each cultural dimension, and how to adjust your interactions accordingly. Having an understanding of cultural traits and how to spot them, will give you or your employees the tools they need to know if  or when they need to adapt, and how, during cross-cultural interactions. At GBA we feel an in-depth understanding of culture better serves our clients, however we can offer culture-specific training as well.

Cultural understanding ideally is a two-way street. But the question often arises about who needs to adapt their ways. Conventionally it has been the visiting culture, the foreign visitor who is expected to take the initiative. At the same time, at Global Business Approach Inc., we encourage those who are dealing with foreign visitors to also remember to be patient with them, and if at all possible, meet them part of the way. Cross-cultural effectiveness covers both you as a host national and as a visitor abroad. Cross-cultural interactions are easier if one side learns to adapt, and much easier if all sides make an effort.

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