Panelists participating in the CSCMP conference session on “International Assignments: Why a Global Resume is Becoming Key to the C-Suite” talked about how to avoid some common communication problems when operating as a leader in a country outside the U.S.
Listening is important because it shows real concern for the company, the country, and the colleagues who are natives there. Don’t arrive and act is if you already know everything. Don’t talk or act as if you’re just passing through on assignment. Panelists agreed that throughout an international assignment, a person needs to get to know the culture – and not just within the four walls of the company.
Another suggestion is to try to speak the language. As one panelists said, “No matter how badly you botch it up, people appreciate your effort.”
In speaking, avoid using slang and cliché’s. For example, “Nobody knows who Peyton Manning is. “
If there’s a language difference, speak slowly, be direct and precise, make sure the other person understands. Invite members of your team to tell you when you’ve made a mistake or used the language incorrectly. One panelist explained, “You need to have that relationship – let people know they can correct you because you’re trying. Otherwise you use the wrong words or the wrong concept over and over.”
If you’re not clear about what someone has said in an email – set up a call. Do a video conference. Remember they are translating to English in their head as they write an email
Read more insights about international assignments in the upcoming AWESOME Report, available on this website in early November.