Fernan R. Cepero
Vice President, Human Resources
skilled are you at working with people from other cultures?
A multicultural workforce is becoming the norm, not the
exception, so it's important to be able to interact with
people from other cultures and countries.
order to improve your cross-cultural skills, you need
to demonstrate openness, genuineness, and integrity.
Multicultural skills are acquired over time, not overnight.
Since most of us tend to avoid anything that is unfamiliar,
it takes a true commitment to educate ourselves and
broaden our "comfort zone." Take the following
an effort to interpret and understand body language
as well as words, and become conscious of your own
body language and what it might be communicating.
Learn to recognize when people are becoming confused
or are withdrawing from a conversation. (Perhaps the
topic is unfamiliar or unpleasant, and you are inadvertently
shutting down communication.)
to dialogue, not debate. The dictionary defines "dialogue"
as an open and frank discussion of ideas. It is an
attempt to seek mutual understanding and harmony.
A "debate" is defined as a discussion of
opposing viewpoints, or an argument in which one side
wins. In seeking to build a solid working relationship,
your goal should always be to reach a common understanding,
not to argue a point. Even if there is a "right"
way and a "wrong" way to do a task, you
won't get very far by debating a point until you're
proven right. You'll gain more by dialoguing until
you reach a common understanding and a common goal.
open to change. When working with people from other
countries, remember that the "American way"
isn't the only way. You may need to remind yourself
that "different" is not the same as "wrong."
your ideas and yourself. If your goal is to move toward
more thorough knowledge and understanding of diverse
cultures, your primary learning modality should be
personal interaction. Your increased awareness and
openness will translate into improved interpersonal
relations and a better work environment for everyone.
on skills and qualifications, not on the way people
dress or the way they talk. Look below the surface.
Take the time to ask questions about cultural customs,
and get to know others as individuals. Each ethnic,
racial, and religious group is made up of individuals
who have some things in common but who are also different
from one another.
involved in social and business organizations that
include culturally diverse persons. Religious institutions,
social service organizations, community associations,
trade associations, and alumni organizations are all
and travel to expand your awareness. Most stereotypes
and prejudices are based on ignorance. Many people
fear what they don't understand. When you understand
more about other cultures, you can work comfortably
with a wider range of people.
valuing differences and working effectively with people
from other countries, you are demonstrating the type
of leadership needed to be successful.