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.

What Behaviours are Bad Manners in British Culture?

wimbledon-queue-uk

Overall, British society tends to be quite relaxed about most things.

However, with a certain way of doing things and an emphasis on manners, Brits can become quite irritated with people who fall short of expectations.

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How Do Business Meetings Run in The UK?

business-meeting-in-uk

If you’re travelling to the UK for a business meeting, then be sure to make a good impression by understanding British meeting culture!

A little bit of cultural awareness can go a long way in improving communication and professional relationship building.

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British Business Culture Ranked 12th Easiest in the World

british_business_culture

Culturally speaking, how easy would you say it is to do business with the UK?

Well the Business Culture Complexity Index ™ (BCCI), which assesses the potential complexity of a country's business culture, has just the answer!

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What should Expats know about the UK Before Relocating?

What should Expats know about the UK Before Relocating?

We have been helping inbound UK professionals and their families get to grips with British culture for over 15 years.

 

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British Culture Still Dictates Social Standing Through 'Class'

British Culture Still Dictates Social Standing Through 'Class'

Like it or not, British culture is still rooted in the class system.

Despite increased multiculturalism and economic growth eroding class somewhat, under the surface and, in the British mindset, class still plays an incredibly strong role.

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New Online Training Course on Doing Business in The UK

New Online Training Course on Doing Business in The UK

We are delighted to announce the release of an online cultural awareness training course on British culture.

Did you know that in The UK they celebrate a 'pancake day'? Yes! And it involves a pancake race too!

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Why Joining The TPP Spells 'Cultural Competence' for British Business

Why Joining The TPP Spells 'Cultural Competence' for British Business

With a ‘no deal’ Brexit looming, the need to trade outside of Europe is becoming a reality for many British businesses.

In fact, just this week, Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzō Abe told Britain we’d be welcome to join the Pacific Free Trade Pact (TPP) following our European exit if we’re unable to leave with a deal intact.

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UK Getting Cheaper for Expatriate Relocation Packages

UK Getting Cheaper for Expatriate Relocation Packages

Traditionally one of the more expensive destinations to send expatriate staff, a survey has found that the UK is now becoming cheaper for foreign companies.


The MyExpatriate Market Pay survey (published annually by ECA International) states that for the past few years the fall in the value of UK Sterling has meant that for companies outside the country, operating mainly in USD, sending resources to Britain has become around 11% cheaper.

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Lack of Language and Cultural Skills Risks 'Global Britain' After Brexit

Lack of Language and Cultural Skills Risks 'Global Britain' After Brexit

Can Theresa May's vision of a 'Global Britain' really come true when even the Institute of Translation & Interpreting question if the UK has the language or cultural skills necessary to compete globally?


Once unshackled by the chains of the EU, the future of Britain is being positioned as one of a global trader. However, to be a global trader you need the skills to do so.

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‘Foreigners’: Tebbit's Language is a Dying Relic of the Past

‘Foreigners’: Tebbit's Language is a Dying Relic of the Past

Seriously, who uses the word ‘foreigners’ as a brush reference to the diverse nationalities living in and beyond the borders of the UK? This word surely is a relic? Something from the past? 

Sitting on my perch last night in my normal nightly semi-comatose state after a hard day's work in front of the TV,  I was aroused from my stupor by the following reaction of Norman Tebbit when discussing the right of EU nationals to remain in the UK post Brexit:

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Who on Earth Needs Cultural Training?

Who on Earth Needs Cultural Training?

Why UK Universities Invest in Cultural Awareness

I was recently at a dinner party in London for notable vultures and found myself speaking to a lovely vulture based in Wales who had flown down for the evening. Conversation led to work and what I do here at Commisceo, and what we do as a company, i.e cultural training.

“That’s different”, he said, "...but who on earth needs that?".

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Cultural Differences and Export Marketing

Cultural Differences and Export Marketing

Weak Pound Signals Export Opportunities

If one thing is certain in this time of post-Brexit uncertainty, it’s that the Great British Pound is down the pan and looks like it might stay there for a while.

Although this isn’t great news if you’re taking your family of 4 on holiday abroad, it is great news if you have something to sell overseas. With the Pound so weak, now is the time to try and entice foreign customers through export.

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Brexit and our Cross Cultural Future

Brexit and our Cross Cultural Future

As bridge-builders, interculturalists have a lot of work to do

I’m going to be honest with you. I have written this blog once already – I fully expressed my views and vented my frustrations as to the recent events in the UK. I am now taking all those words back and starting again.

Why? I can pick holes and point to the lies all day but nothing is going to change. The only thing that will change is the future.

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Podolski suffering football culture shock

Podolski suffering football culture shock

Culture shock is often referred to as the experience an exptriate or tourist travelling to a new country goes through. As Arsene Wenger has demonstrated, culture shock happens in many ways.

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Police Translation Costs Soar

Police Translation Costs Soar


A new report has highlighted the fact that the police force across the UK has spent over £82 million over the last three years on translation services. It is thought that the police have had to fork out such a large chunk of their budget so that they can effectively communicate with migrant criminals, victims and witnesses.

In 2004 the EU allowed Poland and other eastern European countries to join its ranks and since then translation costs have been soaring.

It is estimated that the police spend approximately £75,000 a day on translators which could equate to 3,542 extra officers on the beat.

The latest figures have been highly criticised as they come at a time when the police force have had to take officers off the beat as a result of spending cuts. Some forces have had to impose pay freezes but it seems as though the costs of paying for translators is rising at a great rate. .

However, the police are aware that they need to serve all of the community and in areas where a diverse range of languages are spoken it is a must to be able to communicate effectively with the public.

The government are responding to the high spend though by imposing an £18 million cut this year on translation budgets.
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Interpreters "Operating" In Hospitals

Interpreters "Operating" In Hospitals



People often think that UK doctors are the pillars of UK society who you can trust implicitly, however it seems that the Europe is insisting on chipping away at the confidence that we have in our doctors.

This is due to foreign doctors entering the UK to work. According to recent figures not all doctors that enter the UK are assessed for their competency in the English language and as a result interpreters are being employed by the NHS to make the doctors understood.

European law states that as long as doctors are qualified to work in the UK health service then the General Medical Council are not able to refuse employment based on poor language skills. This has left the UK health service having to seek language interpreters to translate the language for foreign doctors.

Using interpreters creates an extra step in the medical process that allows for human error. If we need to start employing UK interpreters to translate the language for non-native speaking doctors there would be unnecessary bodies in the operating theatre and hospital wards. Interpreters have a difficult job and they can make mistakes due to the nuances of a language and errors are just not an option when you are dealing with lives.

The UK General Medical Council has made a submission to the European Commission which is currently reviewing laws that allow doctors to practice freely across Europe. As there is no standardised medical qualification it means that is it hard to assess doctors that are not from the UK, let alone whether or not doctors are able to speak the language.

The GMC has known of cases where language interpreters have been needed in theatres and of cases when doctors operating on a patient have spoken to co-workers in a language other than English and this left confusion in the operating theatre.
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Do you have to be ‘cultured’ to understand other cultures?

Do you have to be ‘cultured’ to understand other cultures?



Life in Britain is becoming more multi-cultural. We hear this view from the media, the government and experts all the time. But what does this ‘culture’ for which we are diversifying actually mean?

Collins English dictionary outlines culture as “the total of the inherited ideas, beliefs, values, and knowledge, which constitute the shared bases of social action”. Yet when we here about culture, a specific way of life or belief system, why do we nearly always focus on the ‘other’ or the ‘different’. It seems that to be a person of ‘culture’ (beyond the liberal arts definition) you have to belong to a group that has a strongly defined ‘alternative’ lifestyle.

Does this twisting of culture, to mean someone from a strongly valued minority, suggest that the ‘cultured’ among us will be far more understanding towards cultures beyond their own than the rest of us?

Lets take the example of someone having a clearly defined religion. This person of ‘Culture’ attends religious ceremonies, prays in a regular manner, has strong beliefs on morality and family, and is in the minority in our Western increasingly secular society. Will this person be more likely to travel to far-flung regions and investigate cultures such as the Massai tribesman or Tibetan Buddhist monks, than someone with no clearly defined religious, social or political beliefs?

If you are a person with very rigid beliefs and practices surrounding religion or politics or society or ethics then you are deemed ‘of culture’. Therefore is Western Society right in assuming you would be more understanding towards ‘remote cultures’ than say the average ‘Londoner’. You understand what it is like to believe in something very strongly, to have a defined lifestyle that stems from your values of the world. Strong values to strong values, yes?

Another example, this time of the ‘Londoner’. A man, thirty-five, works as an assistant manager in the city, agnostic, drinks in moderation, votes for his favourite candidate regardless of party, has an on-off partner. Our environment tells us that this person is the ‘neutral’, a person without strong religious, social or political beliefs; he cannot be ‘of culture’. Therefore does that mean that he sees our first person as an enigma, a strange mix of inherited ideas, beliefs and values, totally impregnable to him? Surely if he went to the Massai he would boggle at them, he would be confused and disconcerted?

No. It is a myth that our second man has no culture when the truth is he is as much a man of ‘culture’ as our first religious follower. The ‘Neutral’ is not neutral at all. We have just heard a series of inherited views throughout his description, a barrage of cultural information. We know he drinks moderately (believing in a healthy body), he votes politically by candidate (he invests trust in an individual rather than a more holistically-themed party), he has an on-off partner and he is thirty-five (he believes in relationships but doesn’t believe marriage/civil partnership should be rushed). In just three vaguely descriptive statements we have learnt about the intellectual, social and moral views of the Londoner. Just as the ‘cultured’ believes in the family, looks after his soul through prayer and believes in the justice of a God/Gods, the Londoner has a whole stream of cultural beliefs.

What happens then when we introduce our two men to ‘remote cultures’?
The ‘Cultured’ might admire the dedication of the Tibetan monks; or he might protest at their rejection of a God. The ‘Londoner’ might see similarities between the structural order of the Massai tribe and his own CEO-lead company (from Laibon to children); or he might be baffled by their pastoral way of life when he is so used to technological dependency.

We all have our own culture; we all have our own beliefs that develop over our lives. Culture is not exclusive and neither should be understanding.
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Do you have to be ‘cultured’ to understand other cultures?

Do you have to be ‘cultured’ to understand other cultures?



Life in Britain is becoming more multi-cultural. We hear this view from the media, the government and experts all the time. But what does this ‘culture’ for which we are diversifying actually mean?

Collins English dictionary outlines culture as “the total of the inherited ideas, beliefs, values, and knowledge, which constitute the shared bases of social action”. Yet when we here about culture, a specific way of life or belief system, why do we nearly always focus on the ‘other’ or the ‘different’. It seems that to be a person of ‘culture’ (beyond the liberal arts definition) you have to belong to a group that has a strongly defined ‘alternative’ lifestyle.

Does this twisting of culture, to mean someone from a strongly valued minority, suggest that the ‘cultured’ among us will be far more understanding towards cultures beyond their own than the rest of us?

Lets take the example of someone having a clearly defined religion. This person of ‘Culture’ attends religious ceremonies, prays in a regular manner, has strong beliefs on morality and family, and is in the minority in our Western increasingly secular society. Will this person be more likely to travel to far-flung regions and investigate cultures such as the Massai tribesman or Tibetan Buddhist monks, than someone with no clearly defined religious, social or political beliefs?

If you are a person with very rigid beliefs and practices surrounding religion or politics or society or ethics then you are deemed ‘of culture’. Therefore is Western Society right in assuming you would be more understanding towards ‘remote cultures’ than say the average ‘Londoner’. You understand what it is like to believe in something very strongly, to have a defined lifestyle that stems from your values of the world. Strong values to strong values, yes?

Another example, this time of the ‘Londoner’. A man, thirty-five, works as an assistant manager in the city, agnostic, drinks in moderation, votes for his favourite candidate regardless of party, has an on-off partner. Our environment tells us that this person is the ‘neutral’, a person without strong religious, social or political beliefs; he cannot be ‘of culture’. Therefore does that mean that he sees our first person as an enigma, a strange mix of inherited ideas, beliefs and values, totally impregnable to him? Surely if he went to the Massai he would boggle at them, he would be confused and disconcerted?

No. It is a myth that our second man has no culture when the truth is he is as much a man of ‘culture’ as our first religious follower. The ‘Neutral’ is not neutral at all. We have just heard a series of inherited views throughout his description, a barrage of cultural information. We know he drinks moderately (believing in a healthy body), he votes politically by candidate (he invests trust in an individual rather than a more holistically-themed party), he has an on-off partner and he is thirty-five (he believes in relationships but doesn’t believe marriage/civil partnership should be rushed). In just three vaguely descriptive statements we have learnt about the intellectual, social and moral views of the Londoner. Just as the ‘cultured’ believes in the family, looks after his soul through prayer and believes in the justice of a God/Gods, the Londoner has a whole stream of cultural beliefs.

What happens then when we introduce our two men to ‘remote cultures’?
The ‘Cultured’ might admire the dedication of the Tibetan monks; or he might protest at their rejection of a God. The ‘Londoner’ might see similarities between the structural order of the Massai tribe and his own CEO-lead company (from Laibon to children); or he might be baffled by their pastoral way of life when he is so used to technological dependency.

We all have our own culture; we all have our own beliefs that develop over our lives. Culture is not exclusive and neither should be understanding.
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Review: Yanks in Blighty

Donna Marsh is a business woman and cultural awareness trainer specialising in many fields. Over her 30 year professional career she has visited more than 140 countries. As a strue globe-trotter this has given her a great insight into the field of intercultural communication, awareness and skills.

Now this experience has translated itself into a new publication entitled "Yanks in Blighty". As the title suggests the book is aimed at Americans moving, working or living in the UK who are looking for a better understanding of their new environment and the natives.

Review:

Having readthe book we are pleased to offer a glowing review and thoroughly recommend it to our readers. The one major factor that sticks out in the book is how much ground is covered in terms of topics. Donna leaves no stones unturned in her examination of what the UK is, where it is and how it is. We are given quick, informative facts on subjects such as the present situation the country is in, the Royal Family, government, the cultural diversity of the population, language, transport, housing, health care and of course the weather. In short this book contains probably everything anyone would ever need when moving to the country.

As well as the fantastic details, the book also offers the reader answers to questions they were probably thinking but most authors never thought to answer. Although it may sound trivial, knowing how a washing machine works, how the rubbish (or should I say trash?) is collected and when the sales start are all little things people really do need to know.

The book wins in a lot of ways due to its focus. As it is targetted at Americans specifically wanting to understand the UK it allows the author the luxury on concentrating on what they want to know and specific areas of concern for Americans (rather than some other nationality).

Excerpt:

"As a rule, the British are likely to overlook or at least keep silent about most social behaviour that they do not approve of. Queue jumping a notable exception."

Where to buy?

You can buy the book by clicking the link below to Amazon or at any decent online bookstore. The ISBN is 978-1-906710-37-8.


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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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