Intercultural Competence Frameworks and Tools
When I first started my position five years ago, I was assigned to manage one of our largest clients in India. My predecessor did not have a good working relationship with them, and I was curious to find out why. During my first week, I reached out to clients via email and telephone to introduce myself and get familiar with the accounts and points of contact. Although I couldn’t reach the Indian client on the phone, I was able to communicate with them via email. In their email, the client referred to me as Mr. Smith and expressed their satisfaction in having a man as an account representative. I realized that this was the reason for my predecessor’s poor relationship with the client. In my response, I introduced myself again and mentioned that I was a woman. I assured them that I was the most qualified person for their account, and I would take care of it with the utmost diligence. This incident offended me as I have faced intercultural issues before, but never related to my gender. Even after five years, there is still a slight dissonance in our relationship.
To better understand the client’s work culture, I conducted some research on their organizational structure. I found out that they have no women in decision-making positions, so they assume that my company is structured in the same way. As a result, they don’t feel comfortable working with a woman in my position. I have learned to be patient with this client and even find humor in being called Mr. Smith. They bring in millions of revenues, and their account is significant to our portfolio.
COMM 4001 Wk 2 Intercultural Competence Frameworks and Tools
To handle such situations with international clients, I use the Behavioral Assessment Scale for Intercultural Competence (BASIC). This tool encompasses eight categories of communication behavior skills. I make sure to display respect towards the clients, even if they may not show me the same level of respect. I have learned that it is more important to serve their account than to get offended by their behavior. I also consider their cultural orientation to knowledge, empathize with their perspective, and manage interactions accordingly. Due to language barriers, I listen carefully to them and recap our conversations via email to avoid any confusion. During conference calls, I make sure to have a male in management on the phone to give the client a level of comfort. I have also learned to tolerate ambiguity and find common ground between cultures to develop a comfortable method of communication. Ultimately, my goal is to make money and fulfill the mission of the organization, and I have been able to increase business by 40% while managing this client’s account.
- W. Lustig, J. K. (2010). Intercultural Competence: Interpersonal Communication across
Cultures (6th Edition). Boston: Pearson Education Inc.