Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Key steps to adapting in new global business environments

    The key element of adaptability is being comfortable with not being in control of how situations naturally evolve;   particularly where chaos appears to be occurring.   The skill is to let go and trust the process.   Important elements of adaptability are:

1.  Education--Understanding the explicit and implicit dimensions of a different culture (e.g. verbal/non-verbal communication)

2.  Psychological Openness--Willingness to alter one's beliefs, attitudes, values, tastes, relationships and world views in adapting to a different culture.  For example, many Asian cultures value integrity, relationship, and trust as a basis for business.

3.  Cultural Immersion--Willingness to become part of a host culture to such an extent that you feel a natural part of it.

4.  Time Adaptation--Realization and acceptance of the pace of meeting customs in a different culture.  For example in many Central and South American cultures, time is relative--not absolute.  Meetings may not start "on time", people may come "late", the agenda may be general, etc.  On the other hand, certain central European cultures are very precise regarding time.

5.  Work Practices--For many cultures, family and family relationships are primary.  In such cultures, people "work to live" rather than "live to work".  Even in the US, the cultural values of American workers from some generations are transforming to give up the "fast track" in favor of family.

6.  Cultural Context--Western cultures tend to be more rigid in thinking, whereas Asian , Middle Eastern and South American cultures tend to be more dynamic based upon the situation.  The former are called "low context" cultures and the latter are called "high context" cultures.


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