64 CAMPUS PLACEMENTS: Ensure You Don’t Remain Unplaced
E. Cross-cultural Understanding
Global business, technology, and the internet have made cross-cul-
tural understanding the need of the hour. People working in compa-
nies with a diverse workforce, or that are into global business cannot
aord to ignore the understanding and awareness of cross-cultural
communication. This type of communication deals with understand-
ing dierent business customs and practices, values and beliefs, lan-
guage dierences, nonverbal dierences, and many more. Lack of
cross-cultural understanding or practice in behavior poorly reflects on
your personality. Therefore, while dealing with people from dierent
nationalities, be it during interviews or at workplace, it would be in
your favor if you familiarize yourself with cultural diversity and dif-
ference in business practices.
An interesting case worth mentioning here is of a student who vis-
ited an Arabian country for an exchange program. This was his first
visit abroad, and unfortunately, he did not bother to check the local
customs and religious beliefs. He visited a food court, and ordered
food and a bottle of water. While he did finish his meals within the
premises, he carried the bottle of water out of the food court oblivious
of the fact that it was the period of Ramadan, and the local population
was fasting. The moment he stepped out of the food court sipping
water from his bottle, he was despised by the locals and had to face a
stern response for being insensitive.
We all must have experienced the dierence in cross-cultural
practices during our interaction with people from dierent back-
grounds or nationalities. Now the question is: How important is it
to sensitize ourselves to the culture of the people we are interacting
with and modify our behavior according to their business practices
and customs? As we all understand, showing respect towards oth-
ers, trust, and empathy are the key ingredients to successful busi-
ness interactions. Therefore, regardless of the seniority or the power,
you need to exhibit utmost respect and courtesy to develop trust and
empathy. Sensitization about the cultural variations and making an
attempt to customize your behavior will help you connect with your
international business colleagues.
M02_Campus Placements_C02.indd 64 8/26/2016 1:34:31 PM
Personality Development 65
One of the best examples that reinforce the need for sensitiza-
tion is the interaction between the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra
Modi, and the US President, Barack Obama, at the White House
on September 30, 2014, before their summit level talks. President
Obama, acknowledging the Gujarati roots of Prime Minister Modi,
greeted him in Gujarati, “Kem Cho”. In response, Prime Minister
Modi replied in English, “Thank you, Mr President. Thus, respect-
ing the cultural background of the other person by greeting in their
respective languages immediately created a bonding while breaking
the ice for formal discussions.
Even if you speak the same language, cultural dierences are
bound to occur. Though it is natural to feel inclined towards your
culture and beliefs; it is extremely important to value the dierences
and acknowledge the variations. The variations may occur in various
aspects of communication, some of them have been discussed below:
1. Silence: In Asian countries, silence is an essential part of discus-
sions as it indicates active listening that may be interpreted dier-
ently in countries like the US, the UK, Brazil, or France where
silence is considered to be negative and is avoided.
2. Disagreement: Disagreements are common in discussions, but
the way you disagree varies from culture to culture. In countries
like France, Germany, Israel disagreements may be expressed
quite forcefully, in contrast to countries like Brazil, Thailand,
and Japan where disagreements are expressed gently and
3. Focus on relationship versus task: People from France, Japan,
Central Europe, Latin America, Asia, etc. may value relation-
ships more than completion of tasks in contrast to people from
Germany, North America, Australia, New Zealand, etc.
4. Focus on time: Time is viewed and valued dierently across cul-
tures. In countries like Germany, Canada, Switzerland, Australia,
or the US, people have a strict agenda and take time commit-
ments very seriously in contrast to countries like Saudi Arabia,
France, Egypt, Greece, Mexico, and Philippines where people
are more committed to human relationships and are flexible
about time commitments.
M02_Campus Placements_C02.indd 65 8/26/2016 1:34:31 PM

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