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What is Cross Cultural Training?

What is Cross Cultural Training?

'Culturally aware' professionals have a distinct advantage over their peers.

International businesses increasingly cite Cultural Competence as a core requriement during the recruitment process.

Why?

Because culturally competent staff, who understand how to navigate cultural differences, are more productive and successful.

It's a fact.


Cultural Training

 

If you are looking for training for your team or organisation, then hop over to our Cross Cultural Training page.

This blog looks more at what cross cultural training is and does.

 

 


Although cross cultural training is well established within areas such as multinational business,  academia, diplomacy and other areas of public and personal life, the frameworks of cultural training are not necessarily clear to those new to the subject.

To bridge that gap, we have answered some of the more frequently asked questions about cross cultural training.


What is the Definition of Cross Cultural training?

No formal definition of 'cross cultural training' exists, perhaps pointing to its sometimes rather broad interpretations and applications.

However, most attempts to define this field of training agree on similar points; namely that it is any sort of training course that focuses on aspects of culture and cultural differences.

The term 'cross cultural' explicitly refers to any sort of interaction where more than one culture is involved.

Many interpretations see this as relating only to national cultures, for example,  American, Chinese or the UAE, although technically it can refer to any sort of cultural difference, say regional, generational or company culture.

The majority of formal, commercialised cultural training focuses on cross cultural differences in business, such as etiquette, communication or leadership.

Other cross cultural training can take place in the public sector, say for those working in/with diverse communities, as well as in the military, NGOs, hospitality and sports.

Simply put, cross cultural training means any training that helps people overcome cultural challenges in work, or in life, when interacting with others whose culture, values and beliefs we are not fully aware. 


Why is Cross Cultural Training important? 

The benefits of cross cultural training are many:

  • It helps people overcome bias and prejudice, which can otherwise prevent them from making good decisions.
  • It improves communication skills and softer skills such as emotional intelligence.
  • It increases trust between people, which helps break down barriers, seal business deals and get things done.
  • It drives sales by helping business people understand a new market and appreciate how to articulate their pitch.
  • It promotes synergy and drives trusting team relationships which frees people to concentrate on the more important matters.

A business team in training disuss around table

Everyone needs to understand how culture impacts the workplace. This is especially true if you work for any sort of global organisation or work with a culturally diverse client or customer base.

Learn more about the benefits cross cultural training here.

Photo by Dylan Gillis on Unsplash


What are Different Approaches to Cross Cultural Training?

There are many different approaches when it comes to the content, delivery and ethos of cross cultural training.

This fundamentally comes down to context, i.e. who is the training for, why, when and how?

The training course developed for a group of high flying business leaders in the USA, is going to be very different to that of a group of engineers travelling to Nigeria for the first time.

Content can vary considerably between cross cultural training courses, educators and vendors.

Many incorporate teachings from the likes of academics such as Hofstede, Trompenaars and Hall who each developed their own theories on how and why cultures differ.

This training usually takes the form of looking at ‘the other’, i.e. the rationale being that if we can study and understand ‘their’ behaviour and actions then we can have strategies to deal with them.

Other training may take the opposite approach in stressing that first one must understand ‘the self’, i.e. why you do what you do (not what others do).

The idea behind this approach being more about realised empathy and developing cultural awareness through emotional intelligence. 


Free eLearning Course on Cultural Competence

 

Did you know we have a FREE Online Cultural Awareness Course?

Yep! Zero money! Nada.

It's ready for you once you've finished reading this blog!


Who Needs Cross Cultural Training?

Who doesn’t?

Seriously, unless you live in a really homogenous country or work in an industry that is very monocultural, you need an element of cultural awareness.

You can read more about this in our blog, Why is Cultural Awareness Important?


What are the Different Types of Cross Cultural Training? 

There are many types and variations of cross cultural training. Sometimes they come under different names such as Intercultural Training, Cultural Competence, Diversity Training or Cultural awareness.

They can be very close in look, feel and content or can be very different depending on whether they are pre-designed training courses or bespoke solutions.

Generally cross cultural training can be divided into two different areas - Country focused vs Skill focused.

Country focused training will only look at one (or a few) culture, i.e. Chinese, Japanese, Turkish. The content will look at specific areas of the culture whether that be etiquette, communication or negotiation.

Skill focused training on the other hands is a more generic type of course which looks at areas such as communication, management, persuasion, leadership, negotiation, sales, etc and then addresses cultural differences within that framework. There very well may be country specific information or there may not, as these courses are more about developing rounded skills as opposed to focusing on one culture. 


How Does Cross Cultural Training Take Place?

Traditionally most training took place in a face to face training environment such as a training room.

This is still very much the case however it is much more common today for online training, webinars and e-learning to be used. 

Since many multicultural teams are spread geographically, the value in good quality online eLearning cultural training has become more important. 


What are Cross Cultural Trainers?

A trainer who runs a cross cultural programme will be someone who is an expert in one or many aspects of cross cultural communication.

They may either be a country expert, i.e. someone who has lived and worked in another country, or a skills expert, i.e. someone with hands-on management, presentation or negotiation experience. 

With a background in business (or the public sector) and formal education in intercultural communication, cross cultural trainers provide learners with both practical and academic insights into the topic.

Interested in becoming an intercultural trainer


How Long Does Cross Cultural Training Last?

How long is a piece of string? Training can be as short as 30 minutes or as long as 3 days. The length of the training is usually determined by budgets, time, the geographical spread of teams and practicality.

The majority of face to face training takes place over the course of a day, although webinars may be delivered in 2 hour chunks. 


How Much Does Cross Cultural Training Cost?

As above – it all depends on what you want and how you want it.

A simple, off-the-shelf training course will naturally be a lot less than a tailored training course involving meetings, research and design. 


Where Do I Find Cross Cultural Training?

There are providers of cross cultural training within the private sector as well as sometimes through NGOs, public bodies and government initiatives.

A market study in 2021 predicted the cross cultural training sector is "anticipated to grow at a significant pace", driven by demand to support employees working in multicultural environments.

It also highlights some of the top global training vendors for such training.


Want some Free Cross Cultural Training?

Learn more about working across cultures by taking our free course!

We have a free version of our Cultural Awareness eLearning course available for you.

This takes you through many of the common themes covered in cross cultural training.

You can watch it below or go over to the course page where you can also download free resources and take a quiz!



 

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