How to Work in a Multicultural Environment
Technology and globalization have simultaneously made our world smaller while increasing diversification in most businesses and communities. Whether your career involves collaborating with people across the globe or within your own neighborhood, it is likely your professional environment is already pretty diverse.
Working in a multicultural environment can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Research published in the Harvard Business Review suggests that diverse teams “out-innovate and out-perform” those in less-diverse environments. While working with people from different cultures and backgrounds can be educational and fun, it requires a bit of sensitivity and open-mindedness to be successful. Here are some necessary skills to help you work in a multicultural environment:
1. Practice cultural awareness
Think about the differences between yourself and your colleagues that have different cultural backgrounds. What are some values and beliefs that influence how you think and feel, and how do they differ from your colleagues’ values and beliefs? Consider elements such as time, connection, personal space, and traditions. Learning how different cultures interpret and evaluate things differently will help you stay open-minded and avoid potential misunderstandings at work.
2. Develop cultural skills
Cultural skills are what help you successfully communicate with people from other cultures. Once you understand how and why you are different, you can start to improve your cultural awareness. When you’re able to interpret how culture drives intention, you will respond to others with more sensitivity and understanding. Pairing cultural awareness with flexibility and patience will help you better manage expectations and improve collaboration among your team.
3. Value the opportunity to learn and connect
Working in a multicultural office is a great opportunity to broaden your horizons. When colleagues from different backgrounds come together, they bring different experiences and drive creativity. As you continue to learn cross-cultural communication, you will gather valuable skills and knowledge that will extend well beyond your professional life.
Embracing your multicultural workplace can help you build lifelong skills and experiences. Take advantage of the different cuisines, traditions, and connections you encounter at work that you may otherwise never have had the chance to enjoy. With so much of our lives spent working, getting the opportunity to learn, grow, and connect among cultures will make your professional life all the more interesting and valuable.