The world has shrunk thanks to social media (Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest) and to the emergence of cloud computing. Today, your team members, located in various countries, can work on the same documents online and you can all converse via Skype, Webex. The work place can now be a virtual office. Your website is a showcase to the whole world as e commerce is becoming a way of life for busy people or for people looking to buy goods and services not available in their home country.
Your next client is not necessarily living in the same country as you. Speaking the same language does not imply that there will be no misunderstandings.
To reap the rewards of working in a multinational team or to capitalise on your online commercial presence is about adopting a mindset that improves your cultural intelligence. Your cultural sensitivity starts with a genuine respect for other cultures, no matter what their outward appearances, their accents or way of life are. Withholding judgement and having great active listening skills are necessary for the right connections to be made. Many cultures favour an indirect style of communication where body language gives you important cues about what is truly being said.
The quality of relationships is also considered as an asset by many business communities across the world. It is not about how many people you know but how truly you know your business acquaintances. The strength of the rapport determines whether they will do business with you or not. Because English is spoken widely, people tend to assume that there is no need to know about the customs and traditions of their counterpart. This is totally wrong. Getting to know their social values and customs helps to understand their viewpoints and helps you to create win win outcomes for all parties involved. It actually reduces the complexity of doing business outside your local borders.
Working in a multinational environment requires a high tolerance for ambiguity and an ability to maintain performance during periods of uncertainty. There will be times when you will be spending a huge amount of time in meeting and discussing and yet no outcome has been reached. Your ability to influence will be tested in these situations and losing your cool can be seen as disrespectful and immature. Diversifying your range of negotiation skills will allow you to be more versatile and makes it easier to achieve your goals.
Building your psychological fortitude helps to manage the unexpected. Going into uncharted territories rarely goes as planned. Being humble allows you to accept that mistakes are inevitable and are opportunities to acquire new knowledge and skills.
Finetuning your mindset is all about acquiring soft skills, reviewing your beliefs and making regular self assessment of where you are in your journey to position yourself in the global arena. Using personal development tools such as The International Profiler helps as it is an objective benchmark and comes with the professional support of a cross cultural coach to whom you can be accountable.
In today’s world, the past is no longer a prediction of the present or the future. Your approach to building your business or career will need to evolve at the same pace as society is evolving and that includes the whole world.