Working overseas necessitates working alongside colleagues who come from different backgrounds and cultures. Coming into a workplace like this is a bit like coming into a roundabout, you have to know where the other person is coming from, as well as to know when to give way. Rapport building in a multicultural environment is not that hard, and we have some simple pointers for you.
Mind your manners
Imagine if you have two colleagues and, in the middle of a conversation with you, they talk amongst themselves in a language that only they can understand. How would you feel? Manners is not just about politeness and courtesy, it’s also the consideration for others. As The Golden Rule said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Bring joy with you
Would you rather be the coworker who’s always the wet blanket, or the coworker that others look forward to seeing? I have a coworker that I’ve dubbed Mr. Congeniality. He greets each of us good morning with a smile, no matter what his mood is that day. You don’t need to joke around and set up pranks to get people to like you. Simply acknowledging them and giving them a smile is enough for most people.
Talk to people
Talking to people can be as simple as asking them a question about themselves and listening. Not listening with an attempt to rebut and counter with your own experience, but hearing what they want to say. An interest in their country and their way of life can go a long way towards building rapport. A great conversationalist is actually a good listener.
Observe and be sensitive
A new hire will always land in an alien environment. It’s kind of like being dropped in the middle of the ocean and you have to observe first if there are sharks, if they’re just friendly whale sharks or the type to eat you alive. More so in a multicultural environment where a shake of the head may mean a yes when you thought it was a no. Where a thumbs up is actually an “up yours” and is considered rude. Ultimately, being observant and sensitive to cultural nuances is a no-brainer if you want to build rapport.