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Managing a Multi Cultural Environment

Globalisation had a positive impact on the Indian economy with companies spreading their wings worldwide. The acceptance of the role played by India in the world business scenario increased with many Indian companies taking over foreign companies through mergers and acquisitions. But every country which has merged and acquired businesses any where in the world or which has business houses across borders have shown an alarming rate of dysfunction on account of the failure to understand the people and their culture. Therefore, managing a multi cultural environment is a major cause of worry for the companies.

Communication is a crucial function that experiences the direct impact of the difficulties of cross cultural environment. Verbal and non-verbal communication, if not properly understood, can result in major misunderstandings. Difficulties are experienced in understanding the language, the use of jargons and in recognising the meaning of facial expressions. Indians, for example, are famous for the ‘nodding of their heads’ which holds different meaning unlike those in other countries. The use of technical jargons or complicated words can lead to the misinterpretation of the idea behind the words. This is true in countries were English is not commonly used. Similarly, failure in the acceptance of other cultures, insensitivity to the cultural and personal differences, etc can affect the inter-personal relationship adversely. Team effort calls for a harmonious relationship between the team members. Failure to recognise and accept the differences can cause unnecessary tensions which have a direct bearing on the output.

The management must, therefore, develop an organisation which has a better tolerance to other cultures. One way of developing is through the cross cultural training. Cross culture training provides a platform for a better understanding of different cultures and the acceptance of the differences, bringing a higher level of tolerance within the organisation. It aims to encourage diversity within an organisation by minimising personal bias and giving room for better acceptance by understanding multi cultural behaviour. A good training session can abate the fears in the minds of the people, thereby reducing the cultural shock. Cultural shock arises on the failure to understand and recognise other cultures resulting in fear and anxiety.

The modern day organisations also try to minimise the barrier of language by providing foreign language education to its employees. Knowledge of minimal words that are necessary for ensuring smooth running of business must be made part of the training program. Removal of unnecessary jargons, and explaining the meaning of those terms that are inevitable, makes working easier with non-English speaking countries.

Companies must encourage team building programs to bring the people of different cultures together. Team building exercises succeed in convincing the importance of inter dependence for one’s development.

Recognition of people behaviour is an eye opener and can improve one’s tolerance for different cultures. A strong bond between the team members encourage them to utilise the best of various cultures for attaining their professional and personal achievement, thereby driving the company through the geographic borders to explore further opportunities.

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