With an ever increasingly globalised business world, language barriers are important. You’re reading this in English, which is the current global language of business, yet language is only one element of the cross cultural challenge of working globally.
The greater challenge can be in understanding the more subtle differences of expectation and perception. Working in line relationships with people from different countries and cultures can prove to be a real communication challenge, beyond the language issue.
Cultural differences such as the degree of openness and directness expected can make giving and receiving feedback difficult. Understanding how people relate across age and seniority levels in different cultures can avoid causing offence and lead to more effective decision making.
People around the world are currently investing time and money in themselves and their children to improve their English and therefore their prospects. Some English speakers are learning other languages to increase their employability, yet few organisations invest in helping their people understand where their colleagues and customers are coming from, a factor which can deliver real competitive advantage.