different cultures in business collaboration

Overcoming Cultural Barriers in Collaboration

Mirjana Maksimovic Management, Organization

The internationalization of work processes has many challenges and brings about many issues which need to be faced and overcome. One of the top problems everyone should address and focus on is overcoming cultural barriers in collaboration. This is something to consider when establishing and forming new teams. The educational part is essential meaning whether you are the owner, director or team leader, even if you are only a part of a project, learning about cultural differences can prove to be essential in creating a productive and fruitful teamwork and business outcome.

Basics in cultural and international business collaboration

International business collaboration is more and more common today due to the global market and technology. Multinational and cross-cultural teams proved to bring fresh insight into businesses and this is exactly why the focus in building a dependable team, in a physical or virtual working space alike, is more and more based on understanding the cultural differences and habits, customs and respecting them.

1. Communication styles

Different cultures come with different communication styles. In some cultures, people can prove to be quite loud and straightforward, which might seem abrupt and offensive to people, form different communication style patterns. Some cultures are used to using eloquent or indirect language. Before speaking up, some communication styles are more patient than the others.

Mirroring is a natural process to adapt to this challenge. During business meetings, it is very useful to adjust the way you communicate with your associates. People tend to react positively to those reflecting their mannerisms and expressions. If you are a guest in this setting, respect the host.

2. Management styles

In some cultures, representatives of the higher management are on the first name basis with their employees. However, this can be perceived as something quite impolite in a majority of European countries.

Management styles can differ largely across countries which is not only resulting from the cultural setup, but also changes over time due to political changes, market globalization, mobility fluctuations and the technological progress. Additionally, management styles more often than not can depend on the level of education, economic development, corporate culture and available technology.

We may argue that there is a universal managerial style now emerging due to globalization progress and multiple cultures and countries collaborating together more and more.

3. Personal space

Personal space and professional contacts can prove to be a huge deal between cultures. Many Europeans and South Americans customarily kiss a business associate on both cheeks in greeting. This is usually done casually instead of shaking hands. But cultures vary. In the example, in the US, the arms-length from business associates is the acceptable approach. Some other cultures prefer standing shoulder-to-shoulder with their peers or placing themselves 12 or fewer inches away from the person to whom they are speaking. Russian female colleagues often walk arm in arm, while the same behavior in other cultures may signify a more personal or even sexual relationship.
However, we could argue that the companies themselves with their intercultural settings dictate the codes of behavior on the spot, making it perhaps even more difficult to read behavioral nuances. Intrapersonal skills hence are becoming increasingly important and this is why companies train their teams and enable development of these skills.

4. Cultural barriers to business collaboration as the recipe for success

Not only is knowing how to communicate essential in business collaboration, but this also surpasses the levels of communication in terms of reaching the audience and markets. Some cultural patterns dictate one tone and style of communication, whilst others demand completely different ones. Sometimes the best way to approach business is to use an established business media sector, advertisements, news releases and feature articles, while in the other times a more personal communication can bring better results. This too, alongside establishing a good working collaboration and general respect, understanding all the differences at hand and making sure everyone is on the same page regarding procedures and systems will, in fact, bring optimal results and success.

Another thing you can use to keep track of these instructions and making sure your team members are on the same page at all times are online collaboration tools.

And if you are looking for a great online tool for collaboration, you can try CollaboraZon and get a free trial period. It is a single solution to help teams collaborate and be more productive, with a simple and easy-to-use interface. You can make use of powerful features such as sharing files, giving feedback, exchanging messages, creating events and more.