The Blog for Culture Vultures

Satiate your inner Culture Vulture with regular news and posts about cultural awareness, doing business abroad, working in a multicultural environment, HR diversity and global mobility.

Mianzi – The Concept of Face in Chinese Culture

mianzi-china-mask

Do you work with the Chinese?

Then you really need to get to grasp with the importance of face – mianzi – in Chinese culture.

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8 Bonkers Aspects of the British Communication Style

bonkers-brits

The British communication style can be tricky for some foreigners.

Their complex use of indirect messages, suggestion and insinuation can be confusing – in fact, it can drive you bonkers!

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Intercultural Communication Taught to Engineers is Behind the Times

engineers-communicating

Being able to communicate and collaborate across cultures is crucial for many of today’s professions; engineers included.

However, a Japanese-led research team suggests that the intercultural communication skills being taught to today’s engineers are not fit for purpose.

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Honour, Face & Shame in Arab Culture

Honour, Face & Shame in Arab Culture

Doing business in the Middle East? Then you need to understand the role of honour in the Arab world.

The concept of personal dignity, honour and protecting one’s reputation is very important in the Middle East.

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French Waiter Cites Cultural Differences for Being Rude

French Waiter Cites Cultural Differences for Being Rude

Guillaume Rey, a French waiter, was sacked from his job in a Canadian restaurant for being ‘aggressive, rude and disrespectful’

Upset by the sacking Rey believes his employees simply did not understand French culture. A complaint was filed
his previous employer, Vancouver restaurant on Canada’s Pacific coast, under British Columbia’s Human Rights Tribunal in which the waiter claiming  “discrimination against my culture”.

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3 Stunningly Simple Tips to Create Trust in Cross-Cultural Teams

3 Stunningly Simple Tips to Create Trust in Cross-Cultural Teams

Culturally diverse teams are becoming more and more the norm as international businesses continue to hire in talent from around the globe.

Anyone who has worked in a multicultural team knows that this comes with challenges.

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6 Common Ways People Create Disharmony in Multicultural Teams

6 Common Ways People Create Disharmony in Multicultural Teams

Multicultural teams are now the norm within many of our larger companies, organisations and brands.

Challenges relating to communication, trust and morale within culturally diverse teams are common.

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How Culture and Communication Impact Multicultural Global Teams

How Culture and Communication Impact Multicultural Global Teams

Do you know we offer multicultural team-building courses?

The culturally homogenous team is a thing of the past in most international organisations and companies.

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The Apprentice – Horrendous Racism or Cultural Ignorance?

The Apprentice – Horrendous Racism or Cultural Ignorance?

For those that follow The Apprentice, you can’t have missed the recent outburst by contestant Dillon St Paul in Episode 6, entitled ‘Discount Buying’.

Sticking to the traditional programme format, contestants were required to spend the night identifying the whereabouts of 9 items in and around London and then negotiate the best possible price for their purchase.

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5 Essential Skills Every International Business Person Needs

5 Essential Skills Every International Business Person Needs

Working internationally comes with certain challenges - navigating cultural differences is just one.

Being able to work, communicate, sell to or buy from people in different countries, working in different times zones, with different ways of doing things is essential.

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Cultural Differences in the Way we Listen

Cultural Differences in the Way we Listen

In our previous blogs we examined how cultural differences impact body language and the way we speak - we now turn our attention to a little-known skill we all have yet many forget to utilise! Listening.

Just as cultures differ in how we hold ourselves, use our eyes or communicate, cultures also differ in the way they respond to what is being said.

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New Soft-Skills Business Training DVD Titles

New Soft-Skills Business Training DVD Titles

I'm really happy to announce the release of some new soft-skills DVDs which we think you'll soon be passing around the office. These DVDs have been added due to customer demand and we have a great choice now covering a range of topics from customer service to management to listening skills.

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Active Listening: Cross-Cultural Business Communication Skills

Active Listening: Cross-Cultural Business Communication Skills

Active listening is a communication skill crucial to doing cross-cultural business.

As a skill, it requires the listener to become attuned with the speaker in order to confirm what they have heard and moreover, to confirm the understanding of both parties.

This active engagement may differ across cultures...

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Communication Skills and Cultural Differences Self-Study Guide

Communication Skills and Cultural Differences Self-Study Guide

Want to improve your people skills? Need to train staff in communication skills? Looking to overcome barriers to communication at work? Dealing with cultural diversity? If the answer is yes to any of these then why not download our free guide to cultural awareness?

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Stereotyping and Cross-Cultural Communication

Stereotyping and Cross-Cultural Communication



As more or more people from different backgrounds, countries, cultures and religions immigrate to foreign lands, those countries become an intercultural melting pot. In order for the native people and the immigrant population to blend and create a thriving and successful atmosphere both sides need to develop some sort of intercultural tolerance and understanding of the differences that may exist between them. An example of poor intercultural understanding, or one based simply on stereotypes, is offered by the town of Herouxville in Quebec, Canada.

A declaration issued by the town in January 2007, which was designed to inform immigrants, “that the way of life which they abandoned when they left their countries of origin cannot be recreated here [i.e. Herouxville]“. It then went on to state that the immigrant population would therefore have to refrain from their cultural norms and activities such as to “kill women by stoning them in public, burning them alive, burning them with acid, circumcising them, etc.”

Read more > Global Utah Weekly
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Stereotyping and Cross-Cultural Communication

Stereotyping and Cross-Cultural Communication



As more or more people from different backgrounds, countries, cultures and religions immigrate to foreign lands, those countries become an intercultural melting pot. In order for the native people and the immigrant population to blend and create a thriving and successful atmosphere both sides need to develop some sort of intercultural tolerance and understanding of the differences that may exist between them. An example of poor intercultural understanding, or one based simply on stereotypes, is offered by the town of Herouxville in Quebec, Canada.

A declaration issued by the town in January 2007, which was designed to inform immigrants, “that the way of life which they abandoned when they left their countries of origin cannot be recreated here [i.e. Herouxville]“. It then went on to state that the immigrant population would therefore have to refrain from their cultural norms and activities such as to “kill women by stoning them in public, burning them alive, burning them with acid, circumcising them, etc.”

Read more > Global Utah Weekly
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The Intercultural Library

The Intercultural Library



Immigrants will now be able to access learning aids in their own language, information about life in their new homeland or literature in their mother tongue in German libraries, thanks to a new intercultural web portal for library users and staff, launched by the German Library Association (Deutscher Bibliotheksverband, dbv).

Via “springboards” for more than 20 languages, the Intercultural Library provides information on stocks of foreign-language books in public libraries in Germany and also links to texts for library work, multilingual glossaries and online dictionaries, multilanguage online information services and other information portals. The library-work-related level comprises texts and links to integration strategies, professional literature, professional forums, organisations and associations, and also practical examples from other libraries at home and abroad. Within this context, special emphasis is laid on topics such as “Life in Germany”, “Promoting reading and writing” and “Health”, experience having shown that demand for information and source texts on these topics is especially high.

Read more > Goethe Institut

What Kwintessential says:

This is an exciting and interesting initiative by the Goethe Institut which addresses the issues of immigration, language, cultural understanding and the integration of foreigners. Such projects should be seen as the way forward for other countries seeking to implement ways of bringing foreigners into the country and having them understand their new neighbours, colleagues and countrymen.
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The Intercultural Library

The Intercultural Library



Immigrants will now be able to access learning aids in their own language, information about life in their new homeland or literature in their mother tongue in German libraries, thanks to a new intercultural web portal for library users and staff, launched by the German Library Association (Deutscher Bibliotheksverband, dbv).

Via “springboards” for more than 20 languages, the Intercultural Library provides information on stocks of foreign-language books in public libraries in Germany and also links to texts for library work, multilingual glossaries and online dictionaries, multilanguage online information services and other information portals. The library-work-related level comprises texts and links to integration strategies, professional literature, professional forums, organisations and associations, and also practical examples from other libraries at home and abroad. Within this context, special emphasis is laid on topics such as “Life in Germany”, “Promoting reading and writing” and “Health”, experience having shown that demand for information and source texts on these topics is especially high.

Read more > Goethe Institut

What Kwintessential says:

This is an exciting and interesting initiative by the Goethe Institut which addresses the issues of immigration, language, cultural understanding and the integration of foreigners. Such projects should be seen as the way forward for other countries seeking to implement ways of bringing foreigners into the country and having them understand their new neighbours, colleagues and countrymen.
Continue reading
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CILT research into Intercultural Skills

CILT research into Intercultural Skills



CILT is now entering the second phase of its research into an occupational and functional map for languages and intercultural skills and is currently consulting on the cross-sector applications of languages and intercultural skills in the workplace.

You can contribute to their research

If you are a employer involved in the management or recruitment of any roles using language or intercultural skills or if you are an employee using your language or intercultural skills in your job, they would like to hear from you. They’ve prepared a short questionnaire that should take no more than 5-10 minutes to complete.

Your views are essential to this project. Please download and complete our questionnaire and return it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by Friday 27th February. If you have any questions or comments about the project, you can email those to the same address.
Alternatively, their research team are conducting one-to-one telephone interviews with employers, employees and key stakeholders. If you have a lot of knowledge with regard to a particular role, or roles, and its (their) use of language or intercultural skills, it would be very helpful to talk to you. Please contact CILT directly to discuss your particular perspective.
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New national standards on intercultural respect at work

New national standards on intercultural respect at work



The first ever National Occupational Standards for working with people from different countries or diverse cultures will be launched today at a high profile event in central London. The new Standards provide a quality benchmark for building mutual respect, improving communication and workforce relations, and reducing racism.

The new National Occupations Standards for Intercultural Working describe the skills, knowledge and understanding required by anyone wishing to work effectively in a multicultural environment. They can be used to inform policy and procedures, provide a good practice guide for human resources professionals, and identify training needs to promote social and community cohesion.

CILT, the National Centre for Languages led the government-funded project to develop the new Standards, which were approved by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills in September 2008. Today’s launch celebrates the completion of the project, which has involved hundreds of organisations, employers and individuals from across the UK over the past two years.

Read more >> CILT
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