People Skills for a Multicultural Workplace
- Courtesy and Respect
- Speak Like a Diplomat
- Listen With Intent
- A Keen Eye for Observation
- Patience Is a Professional Virtue
Courtesy and Respect
Courtesy and respect are perhaps the most important people skills for a multicultural workplace. The ability to recognize different cultural norms, show respect for the feelings and beliefs of others and demonstrate an active interest in their ideas helps to create a collaborative professional environment. Professional respect means not making jokes or negative remarks about the attributes of colleagues, including beliefs, traditions, looks and professional abilities or skills. For example, take time to research the date for the Chinese New Year and express your good wishes to Chinese colleagues.
Speak Like a Diplomat
Listen With Intent
While the ability to speak effectively is important, listening is also a key skill for the diverse workplace. For cross-cultural communications, active listening is critical to understand the speaker’s intended meaning. Active listening is a communication technique where the listener intentionally focuses on what the speaker is saying, repeating what the speaker said using their own words. It allows you to demonstrate interest in the topic and an understanding of what your colleague is saying. Active listening promotes better communication and fewer misunderstandings. During a business meaning, for example, repeat a colleague’s suggestion and say that you agree.
A Keen Eye for Observation
You can acquire a great amount of cultural knowledge through observation. A colleague’s fragrantly spiced lunch, business attire, body language, interactions with others and general behavior all provide clues as to her cultural heritage. Developing an awareness of these differences as they compare with your own culture helps you understand the roots of different behaviors in multicultural workplaces. Asking your colleagues questions in a respectful manner is also great way to expand your cross-cultural knowledge. For example, ask for suggestions on ordering when a colleague takes you to a restaurant featuring cuisine from her country.
Patience Is a Professional Virtue
You may encounter cross-cultural situations that are frustrating, annoying or challenging. For example, language barriers may make it difficult to foster collaborative communications amongst team members. Patience and tolerance of others are critical interpersonal skills for adapting to a diverse workplace. Despite differences in opinion and beliefs, your co-workers will respect you when you demonstrate patience, tolerance and cross-cultural understanding.