We often feel that having a common language with another culture means we have a common understanding and frame of reference, and yet his speech demonstrated how different those cultural expectations can be. In this global world where leaders and staff are often deployed across international borders these differences are often overlooked. Expats given a choice of new locations, will often opt for a country with a common language, such as the English moving to the USA or to Australia. They believe that this will make the transition and adaptation process easier. Yet we have evidence that failure of international placements can often be higher in such situations. The belief that the common language evidences a common culture is a fallacy that often leads to a lack of awareness of the changes required. As a result, expats can find themselves out of touch with the cultural expectations of the role and how they need to alter their approach as a result.
When might you overlook cultural differences because the same language is spoken?
How can you become more aware of the cultural expectations presented by a diverse workforce?
What changes do you need to make when working across cultures, even when everyone speaks the ‘accepted language’?