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Posts Tagged ‘cross-cultural communication’

Five Essential Tips For Effective Virtual Meetings Across Cultures – Part I

Posted by Nara Venditti on June 22, 2010

Over the years, I have taken part in numerous virtual meetings with teams operating nationally and globally. In teaching of business management courses, I have noticed that many of the textbooks on this subject do not provide information on effectively operating in virtual teams. Of course, virtual meetings offer clear advantage: they save companies time and money for travel, they can be called at a relatively short notice. Yet, as our business world becomes more and more technology oriented this is important information that employees and managers must have.

In part I, I will outline a few crucial tips that I have learned over the years that will increase the effectiveness of virtual communication for homogeneous and global teams consisting of multicultural employees. I will mark tips especially for multicultural teams with asterisk.

1. First, try to meet face-to-face – to introduce team members to each other. To build strong relationship, there is nothing better than face-to-face interaction. Then utilize on-line video conferencing services for better logistics and professionalism.

2. Distribute agendas in advance. Try to keep agenda short and manageable, not more than three to five items. Allocate time to each item. Ask the participants for their input.

3. Select a responsible meeting recorder for distribution notes afterwards.  Always follow up with written notes and action steps.

4. In your e-mail pre- and post- communication, the generously use of words like “please” and “thank you” for courtesy and respect. Since tone of voice and facial expressions are not transmitted in your written communication, these simple words can work miracles. *Better yet, use “thank you” in the language of the participants. Do not be afraid to transliterate in English, no matter how funny it may look or sound, your effort will be appreciated. (See a link to a list to “thank you in 26 languages at the end of this article)

5. Leave a phone message when following up on your request or announcement. A smile while speaking will not be seen but can be conveyed in your message. By doing this you’re your voice will be recognized next time you talk and bond faster at the actual meeting.

This was Part I. In Part II, we will outline a few more tips, including specific language and communication tips that will make your virtual tips more productive and effective. Connect with international meeting participants, use thank you in their native language. Download the list of “thank you” translations and pronunciations in 26 languages succeedinamerica.com/documents/SucceedinAmerica_bookmarkThankYou.pdf

Nara Venditti, Ph.D., is a platform speaker, educator and author. She is the president of Succeed in America, LLC and author of “How to Get A Job in the USA ” and “Ameri$peak.”. She is an expert in foreign born employee development, cultural diversity, cross-cultural communication and business English and a frequent presenter at Conferences, Companies and educational institutions. She speaks on careers, communication and diversity. She can be reached at +1 203 791 1107 or http://www.SucceedinAmerica.com

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In the Workplace Take Humor Seriously

Posted by Nara Venditti on November 9, 2009

We all know that humor is good for you. It is well known that lighthearted laughter will regulate one’s blood pressure, accelerate recovery from illness and decrease stress in the workplace. In other words, laughter can be good medicine. It’s true that all cultures enjoy humor and laughter, but how people perceive humor is culture specific. With increasing cultural diversity in the workplace, we need to keep in mind that humor is meant to be funny, not insulting. What perceived as funny in one culture, might not be understood or might even be insulting in another. Some cultures use sarcastic or put-down humor in conversations so as to tease each other. Other cultures do not use sarcastic humor and find this type of humor offensive. Often in a diverse gathering an inappropriate joke may misfire. So I do not recommend poke fun at other groups and individuals in professional and business gatherings. How to determine what kind of humor is appropriate? If you want some fun, have it at your own expense – the safest type of humor is self-depreciating humor Do not tell jokes related to physical appearance like a person’s height, weight or the size of their nose. Keep in mind that humor does not translate well because very often it is based on word plays or puns, and these do not translate easily into another language. Do not tell political, religious, ethnic, racial jokes and other jokes that ridicule peoples’ beliefs or affiliations or even accents. In one organization I recently presented at, a manager was demoted for repeatedly ridiculing an employee’s accent. As you can see, sometimes “humor” is no funny business! So know what, when, where, who and how to kid around. Nara Venditti, Ph.D., is a platform speaker, educator and author. She is the president of Succeed in America, LLC and author of “How to Get A Job in the USA ” and “Ameri$peak.”. She is an expert in foreign born employee development, global diversity and business English and a frequent presenter at conferences, companies, public libraries, and educational institutions. She speaks on careers, communication and global and multicultural diversity. She can be reached at +1 203 791 1107 or http://www.succeedinamerica.com/.

Posted in Cultural Differences | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Focus on the Soft Skills to Get the Hard Stuff Done: The CLEAR™ Formula for Excellent Customer Service – Part II

Posted by Nara Venditti on August 17, 2009

In our previous article “Focus on the Soft Skills to Get the Hard Stuff Done: The Clear Formula – Part I we covered the first letter in CLEAR, C which stands for “Communication”.  Now, let’s move on to L, E, A, and R.

              L – stands for Listen.  A customer’s expectations from customer service personnel are the ability to listen, understand and take action on their specific needs. Active listening such as nodding when you are interacting face-to-face or an occasional “I see” over the phone reassures the customer that the service rep understands the problem and will recommend the best action.

               E – stands for Empathize.  Acknowledging another person’s emotional state by saying “I understand why you feel this way” demonstrates sensitivity to customer’s needs. Empathy will relieve the customers’ anxiety and turn a defensive attitude to one of cooperation. To quote Jack Canfield, “they don’t care what you know, until they know that you care”.

              A – Ask. To be certain of the customers’ intentions one needs the skills of Sherlock Holmes in the art and science of asking questions. Among the many types of questions which a service rep should be familiar with are: open ended and close ended questions, preview and probing questions, and confirmation questions to name a few. Each category can include right questions to ask and questions to avoid (depending on the situation). An example of a good close ended question would be, “Do you prefer to be contacted by phone or e-mail?” If a right question is asked at the right time the customer will recognize and appreciate the concern, trust and connect to the customer service professional.

              R – stands for Build Relationships.  All the above points add up to good relationships. Those who communicate well, listen hard and empathize sincerely build strong relationships. Creating a positive experience will leave the customer with a positive impression of both the company and its products and services. A satisfied customer will often lead to repeat business and favorable publicity.  “A Good relationship is good for business”.

Train your service professionals to use soft skills effectively domestically and across the globe and you will be able to satisfy your customer’s needs, exceed their expectations, sell more through good service, and make a big positive difference in your bottom line.

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The Naming Game: Global Diversity Speaker Intelligence

Posted by Nara Venditti on June 24, 2009

Names are an important element on the platform of human relationships. Correctly pronouncing your student’s or colleague’s name goes a long way towards earning the individual’s respect and trust.  This could be a challenge, however, when you’re up against a name like Javarkharlal. It is always appropriate to ask “Am I pronouncing it right?”  Then repeat the name a few times so that your mouth and tongue could practice the unusual sounds and combination of sounds.

When dealing with multicultural students, customers, or colleagues, it is helpful to keep these points in mind:

1. Naming tradition differs across cultures.  For instance, in some cultures, person’s last name comes before the given name. In my own country of origin, Armenia, I would be Venditti Nara, rather than Nara Venditti. Or, suppose you greet Hong Genfu from China as Mr. Genfu. That may be the same as addressing Bob Johnson as Mr. Bob

2. It is not always easy to distinguish which is the first name or which is last. We may greet Harlan Henry from the Caribbean, as Henry because it is the more common first name in the US.

 3. Hispanic names usually include both mother’s and father’s family names.     It is father’s name that is used in addressing the person.

To learn more about addressing etiquette across cultures, read my article  at http://www.succeedinamerica.com/articles/businessinsider2004.pdf

Nara Venditti, Ph.D., is a platform speaker, educator and author. She is the president of Succeed in America, LLC and author of “How to Get A Job in the USA ” and “Ameri$peak.”. She is an expert in foreign born employee development, global diversity and business English and a frequent presenter at Conferences, Companies and educational institutions. She speaks on careers, communication and diversity. She can be reached at +1 203 791 1107 or http://www.succeedinamerica.com/.

Posted in Customer Service | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »