I just returned from a trans-Atlantic cruise. Initially, I was going to dedicate this article to the value of going on holiday: disconnecting 100 percent and recharging for a fresh perspective and renewed energy. However, the cruise was full of people from all over the world: Australia, South Africa, England, Canada, the Philippines, Europe, and more. It made me realize once again that so many of us from the States are "U.S. centric." We think that everything is better if it is from the United States. As a result, many of us have no clue what other countries are dealing with unless it is a big issue like Brexit or the North Korea nuclear threat. Therefore, I decided to focus this article around global habits, in the hopes that we can all expand our knowledge and understanding of those things affecting our colleagues, clients, and friends across the globe.
As a result of global expansion and mergers, many of the companies we work for or with are multinational. So even if you work mainly in your home country, you’re very likely to interface with colleagues or clients from other countries. I find that it is so beneficial to seek to understand the customs, issues, and concerns of others before starting to talk about why we should do things the way they are done in the States, or wherever your home country is. You will likely be pleasantly surprised with new ideas and insights into cultural differences.
It is not easy to keep up with things outside of the general headlines on the national news broadcasts, but here are a few tips that might make it easier to develop more global habits to expand your knowledge and perspective:
• Follow an international news feed such as BBC World News.
• Attend conferences with an international focus such as the recent SITE–MPI Global Forum in Rome, IMEX America, or IMEX Frankfurt.
• When doing business for the first time in a new country or region, utilize resources such as CultureActive, a tool to understand cultural and business behavior in more the 100 countries.
Finally, just talk to people! Ask questions about their home country: Are there business norms that are different? What do they see as a unique aspect of their country? How are meetings conducted? How are contracts agreed? And don’t forget to ask questions as simple as "When do you usually have dinner?" and "What is public transportation like?”
I hope this issue will inspire you to develop consistent global habits to expand your perspective!