What does it mean to be a citizen of the world? Being a global citizen means that you feel "at home" in any country. As the globe becomes more connected by the nanosecond, it can be overwhelming to keep up. News stories are constantly breaking and tensions are high in many places. Even knowing what to say to your international business partners can be challenge at times. Here, we share a few tried-and-true solutions to get along with anyone, wherever you may be.
Show interest in the local culture. Ask questions about unique traditions or objects you see during your visit. In turn, expect that your hosts will have questions about what life is like in your home country. Be open to participating in any special rituals or holidays that occur during your assignment. Food is almost always an expression of the culture, so it can be a wonderful conversation starter. Inquire about ingredients or techniques that are unfamiliar to you, and be sure to dish out the compliments on meals that you particularly enjoy!
When your company hosts a guest from out of town, everyone probably tries to make them as comfortable as possible. Likewise, your hosts may go out of their way to accommodate you. Do not forget to express your thanks when you are the one traveling. Gratitude is appreciated in every culture, but it is demonstrated in different ways. Be sure to learn how cultures convey thanks, whether it is with a bow, hug, or gift. Remember that emotions can be expressed across cultures, even if you don't speak the local language.
Familiarize yourself with the unfamiliar
Even if you are travelling to another region in your home country, the culture can be very different. What do people value in your destination? Can you find common hobbies or passions in the area? By taking the time to consider these differences, you may be able to prevent uncomfortable situations before they can happen. Educating yourself and your team does take time, but your willingness to go the extra mile will be deeply appreciated by your global teammates.
Become a vigilant peacekeeper
Before disagreements can escalate, step in to help each party understand the other party's point of view. Disagreements between people of different cultures most often originate from a place of misunderstanding. Tensions or uncomfortable conversations often have roots in cultural differences. Attempt to navigate the discussion with respect and productive dialogue. No matter the culture, your multicultural team will respect thoughtful discourse in the appropriate environment.
An important mentality to maintain when traveling is that you probably have a lot to learn. Even if you are a seasoned business traveler, there will always be new opportunities for you to create better relationships with your international coworkers.