Intercultural Communication Training and Coaching

Competent Intercultural Communication Exporting, importing, offshoring, and selling to international businesses or consumers does not come without challenges. Effective and appropriate intercultural communication is one of the most important success factors in global collaboration.

Developing competence in intercultural communication is a process, a series of trials and errors during which insight is developed and assumptions are drawn, tested, and verified. We can help to kick-start this process and make it a sustainable effort:

  • Conduct intercultural communication skills trainings,
  • Provide teambuilding for multinational teams, and
  • Support intercultural negotiations and mediate conflicts.

Our country focus is on Asia (esp. India), Europe (esp. Austria, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Poland, Switzerland, The Netherlands), and U.S.A.; other national cultures can be covered through our established and carefully chosen network. We offer intercultural trainings as organisational interventions, intercultural teambuilding events to kick-start global projects, and expatriate/repatriation coaching.

Our Expertise and Experience | Training and Consulting: Our Approach | More Info on Intercultural Communication


Our Intercultural Expertise and Experience for your Advantage

There are virtually thousands of 'interculturalists' in this world. So, why do we stand out from other trainers and coaches? At GloBus Research, Dr Wolfgang Messner runs our intercultural trainings and coachings. Wolfgang ...

  • ... is not your typical soft-skill trainer; instead he has worked in international senior-management positions worldwide for leading companies. He has experienced the dynamics of global teams himself, worked in the outsourcing/offshoring model in the Western front- and in the Indian back-offices, and knows what the client requirements are and what the ground reality is like on the delivery floors. Wolfgang has personally (and mostly successfully) led globally distributed teams of all sizes through their ups and downs.
  • ... has moved his household through the world, from Munich/Germany to Newcastle upon Tyne/U.K. (1993), Perugia/Italy (1994), Frankfurt/Germany (1995), Bangalore/India (1997), Frankfurt/Germany (1999), again to Bangalore/India (2007), Munich/Germany (2009), London/U.K: (2011); since beginning of 2013 he is settled in Mysore/India. His 2002 marriage to Pratibha, an Indian national and now also a Director of GloBus Research, allowed him a deep dive into the Indian culture and insights usually closed to the Western business traveller.
  • ... was fortunate enough to receive the best of international academic and business school education (Technical University Munich, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Università Italiania per Stranieri Perugia, University of Wales, University of Kassel, and Harvard Business School). Wolfgang has been trained by The Coaches Institute on a cooperative coaching style. He is Associate Professor of International Management at MYRA School of Business in Mysore/India and has also taught full-scope modules on international management as Adjunct/Visiting Faculty at other leading universities (Indian Institute of Management Bangalore, Royal Docks Business School - University of East London, University of Würzburg, WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management).  Please use this link for more details about his background and experience.
  • ... has been trained by The Coaches Institute in a cooperative consultative approach for intercultural coaching to support business executives in finding their own answers to challenges they face.

At GloBus Research we have developed proprietary training material and workbooks to support the learning in our trainings - now also available in online bookstores for you to use independently. Our aim is for you to become as knowledgeable and confident in handling cross-culture discussions and negotiations as humanely possible:

Intercultural Communication CompetenceIntercultural Communication Competence. A Toolkit for Effective and Appropriate Intercultural Communication and Collaboration.
Messner, W. (2013) | | |

This resource book is an intercultural toolkit and compares 50 national cultures on their intercultural dimensions. It further gives specific information on China, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Italy, U.K., and U.S.A.; the book also features 24 tasks, exercises, and case studies.
Working across CulturesWorking across Cultures. An Intercultural Communication Toolkit for the Global Indian.
Messner, W. (2012) | | |

This workbook with tasks and exercises is specifically aimed at the Indian subcontinent; it is suitable for both experienced Indian professionals and those who are relatively new to an international role. It is designed to be a training workbook to be used in a corporate or MBA seminar; it will also be useful to a globally active Indian keen on developing intercultural competencies.
INDIA - Intercultural SkillsINDIA - Intercultural Skills. A Resource Book for Improving Interpersonal Communication and Business Collaboration
Messner, W. (2012) | | |

This resource book is a start on the journey of cultural appreciation for everyone communicating, negotiating, and collaborating with Indians. It is designed to be used as a training workbook in a corporate seminar, but will also benefit an individual keen on understanding Indian culture and values.

 We publish intercultural best practices and guidebooks on a regular basis:

Engaging with IndiaEngaging with India. How to Manage the Softer Aspects of a Global Collaboration
Messner, W. (2011), Createspace

This booklet is a must read for an introduction or if you a short of time; sign up here to order your FREE ecopy!
Working with India. The Softer Aspects of a Successful Collaboration with the Indian IT & BPO Industry
Messner, W. (2009), Springer

This book provides cultural and business background to organize for a successful intercultural collaboration with India's services sourcing industry.

In a publication on the Management of a Global Workforce (Die Bank (09/2011), in German: Management einer globalen Workforce), we highlight the challenges global financial services institutions face with respect to different dynamics of employee markets in different countries of their operations. The chapter Das Management interkultureller Teams: Deutschland / Indien by Wolfgang Messner in the 2006 handbook on Strategies of German Enterprises in India (in German: Strategien deutscher Unternehmen in Indien. Koubek, N. & Krishnamurthy, G. R. (Eds.), Peter Lang) deals with the challenges of managing distributed intercultural project teams between Germany and India. Please see here for a full list of our publications.

Together with Dr Norbert Schäfer, Professor of Organizational Psychology at the University of Ludwigsburg, we have co-developed ICCA and later Team-ICCA as a comprehensive psychometric diagnostic framework for intercultural coaching and organizational intervention measures.

Recent research by GloBus Research on the Effect of Organizational Culture on Employee Commitment in the Indian IT Services Sourcing Industry will be published in June 2013 in the Journal of Indian Business Research, 5(2).

We have trained hundreds of MBA students and employees from many different companies across vertical industries in a good number of countries. Please see here for some testimonials.


Training and Consulting: Our Approach to Intercultural Sensitisation

Given the costs associated with freeing employees for attending an training and the importance and potential impact on the other hand, it is important to ensure the effectiveness of intercultural development efforts. We offer to support you to match the intercultural skill characteristics to be trained with our training delivery method:

  • In an organisational needs analysis we seek to identify whether your organisational needs, objectives, and problems can be addressed by an intercultural intervention. Within this context we will together look at the dimensions of organisational analysis (Which organisational goals can be attained? Where is training needed?), task analysis (What must the participant learn? What will the training cover?), and person analysis (Which employees need training and for what?).
  •  We use Team-ICCA™ for an individual needs assessment to understand the cultural predisposition and employee commitment of the employee groups to be trained. This is a systematic approach to fine-tune the training content to target segments in your organization.

As a result, our intercultural trainings are not about 'psychobabble'. Instead, we provide relevant information and help to re-calibrate opinions. Participants of our trainings:

  • Learn to understand how their behaviour is driven by their own values;
  • Get an insight into what drives and motivates their counterparts from another culture; and
  • Use this knowledge to build successful communication strategies in their business interactions.

We reach this goal through an interactive training with small individual exercises, some group work, pantomime play, videos and also some presentations to set the intercultural communication framework right. Last but not least, our intercultural seminars are also motivational and entertaining thereby creating a deep learning experience for the attendants.

In order to understand the effectiveness of the training, we measure the participants' reaction criteria through feedback forms. We also offer individual 1:1 coaching sessions about six weeks after an intercultural skills training to fine-tune participants' job-related intercultural behaviour; an aggregated summary of these coaching sessions helps you to measure the learning criteria (how much participants have learnt from the program) and the behavioural criteria (changes in competence). Through ongoing intercultural coaching and tutoring, we can help you to improve the intervention's results criteria (utility to your organisation) as well.  

Here are some examples of our training agendas in India:

Working across Cultures

1-2 days, 10-25 participants from India

Globalization has put India at the world's centre stage and we have become more mobile than ever. However, many of us still take our own ways for granted and we don't 'understand' that our colleagues from different cultures have different preferences which define their abilities to be successful. Globalization requires us to work effectively across cultures and we need to embark on a journey of self-discovery to learn about the differences.

Training methodology:
Videos, audios, pantomime play, group and individual exercises, case studies, group discussions, presentations, ICCA™ psychometric diagnosis framework for group coaching (optional).

Perceptions as a source of misunderstandings: How Indians view Westerners and how they are being seen by their foreign colleagues. AID-Model to avoid misunderstandings.
Iceberg model of culture, role of cultural pre-programming, value systems, and difference between individualistic and collectivistic cultures.
Acculturation curve for international encounters.
Intercultural dimensions (based on Hofstede and GLOBE).
Time personality (polychronic vs. monochronic, low-context vs. high-context communication) based on Edward Hall. Effect on meeting style and agenda vs. relationship orientation.
Recognizing cultural differences in communication. Avoiding face-saving communication and improving assertiveness without becoming aggressive.
Communication aspects of international project management.
Selected aspects of international social and business etiquette. Reading international business cards, addressing foreigners correctly.
RSA analysis of own intercultural weaknesses.
International negotiation styles. Effect of different legal systems.
Effect of different business climates on international project management.
Framework for intercultural collaboration to derive collaboration strategies.

International Interview Skills

1 day, max. 10 participants from India

Many of our Indian companies provide offshoring services to Western clients. Client managers often want to interview their offshore team before taking them on board. Indian employees are often not in a position to reply to challenging questions: Tell me something about yourself? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Where do you want to be in five years time? The cultural imprint on what is considered to be the right answer, eye-contact, body language, dress code, small-talk etc. is not to be underestimated. Developing international interview skills significantly enhances the success rate of our offshore teams being accepted by the end client. In addition, they also support general intercultural competencies required only a bit later for project collaboration.

Training methodology::
Mock interviews with participants (video-taped and reviewed), videos, audios, group discussions, presentations, group and individual exercises.

And here are some examples of training agendas we offer in Europe, U.K., and U.S.A.:

Intercultural Collaboration with India

1-2 days, 10-15 participants

Globalization has put India at the world's centre stage and when project teams from Western cultures first come into contact with their Indian counterparts, prejudices against the new and unknown are typically amplified. But offshoring to India, producing in India, buying from India, or marketing to the Indian consumer requires appropriate intercultural communication to be effective.

Training methodology:
Videos, audios, pantomime play, group and individual exercises, case studies, group discussions, presentations, ICCA™ psychometric diagnosis framework for group coaching (optional).

Perceptions as a source of misunderstandings: How we view Indians and how Indians see us. AID-Model to avoid misunderstandings.
Iceberg model of culture, role of cultural pre-programming, value systems, and difference between individualistic and collectivistic cultures.
Acculturation curve for international encounters.
Intercultural dimensions (based on Hofstede and GLOBE).
Time personality (polychronic vs. monochronic, low-context vs. high-context communication) based on Edward Hall. Effect on meeting style and agenda vs. relationship orientation.
Recognizing cultural differences in communication. Importance of positive feedback for motivation.
Fostering innovation and initiative in the Indian team.
Communication aspects of international project management.
Country overview India. Selected aspects of social and business etiquette.
Family, religion, and caste system.
RSA analysis of own intercultural weaknesses.
State of the Indian economy, offshoring and services sourcing industry.
Framework for intercultural collaboration to derive collaboration strategies.

Multicultural Teambuilding

2 days, max. 10-15 participants from at least two different cultures

Building cohesive multicultural teams means building success. In too many cases, managers brush off cultural issues, because they are difficult to define and at times delicate to talk about. Most intercultural misunderstandings occur due to differences in style of communication, reasoning, and expectations of each other. Only by facing up to cultural differences and creating awareness about the same, can the intercultural divide in international teams be bridge and ultimately stronger teams be built.

Training methodology:
Moderated dialogue between participants of the different cultures present in the training room, videos, audios, pantomime play, paintings, group and individual exercises, case studies, group discussions, presentations, Team-ICCA™ psychometric diagnosis framework for group coaching (optional).

Managing Global Virtual Teams

2-3 days, 6-12 participants

Most companies now have organisations spanning across countries and time zones. Employees are expected to charge across cultures like the world were one flat playing field and work together seamlessly - but are often found to be working apart. How should global virtual teams be organised? How can managers build trust when they rarely meet their team members? How do you successfully bridge distance - and turn distance and difference into creativity for competitive advantage? The answer is only partly a technological solution and a global organisational structure; the most important answers are human behaviour.

Training methodology:
Simulation exercise at the beginning of the training program, videos, audios, group and individual exercises, case studies, group discussions, presentations, communication style assessment, leadership style benchmarking, ICCA™ psychometric diagnosis framework.

Perceptions and prejudices. Overcome stereotypes with the AID-model.
Intercultural management. Decode, describe, and understand cultural differences - and learn techniques to overcome them.
Intercultural awareness. Learn your own cultural profile and competences with relative strengths and weaknesses. Prepare to enhance your strengths and overcome your weaknesses..
Communication styles. Understand the differences between various culturally driven communication styles. Evaluate your own style, learn to adapt to fit the needs of others, and intelligently use various communication channels for maximum result.
Meeting styles. Understand the effect of time personality on meeting style and agenda vs. relationship orientation; identify the 'best' model for your global virtual team.
Intercultural negotiation. Learn a framework for appropriate and effective intercultural negotiations.
Building trust. Understand the mechanisms of building trust in global virtual teams.
Foster initiatives and innovation. Build and manage your global team in a way that local initiatives are leveraged for global advantage and differences create innovation.

We usually run these trainings in-house in your organization, wherever this may be for you. Our training languages are English and German. Please contact us for a FREE initial consultation so that we can jointly find the best solution to your challenges.


More on Intercultural Communication

So, why does Culture Matter for Your Business?

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman started the 'world is flat' syndrome. In his book, he says he was on a trip to India "to understand why the Indians … were taking our work, why they had become such an important pool for the outsourcing of service and information technology work". Today, it goes without saying that technologies, communication media and standards do enable connectivity and collaboration across the world. Certain services or products can be performed, developed, or manufactured at a location different from where they are needed, delivered, or sold. William J. Amelio, CEO of Lenovo, called it Worldsourcing; it transforms the nuts and bolts of entire multinational companies.

Cultural perceptions and valuesStill, exporting or importing internationally, selling to international businesses and consumers and, last but not least, services offshoring to a distant country is full of challenges. The quality is not good, everything takes so much longer, there are huge delays, and we don't understand 'their' English anyhow.

But what is the real reason? If companies and their managers think they can work abroad and with people from other cultures with the same processes and value systems that they are successfully using 'at home', then they are not only grossly mistaken, but this misstep can lead to operational risk. If known procedures do not seem to work anymore, if one does not know or does not want to accept the necessity of having to do something in an entirely different way, it very quickly leads to looking down onto another culture. Just a little later, frustration sets in and relations harden. Many deep seated misconceptions and stereotypical images about the other culture, coupled with unreasonable expectations, are coming to light.

Overcoming Cultural Differences and Turning them into Advantages

Developing competence in intercultural communication is a process, a series of trials and errors, a chain of experiences during which insight is developed, assumptions are drawn and tested. An intercultural training helps to kick-start this process and continuous intercultural coaching makes sure the chain does not tear.

Candidates who go on expatriate assignments, who travel on business trips or who simply work together in a geographically distributed environment as 'desk diplomats' need to build intercultural competencies. In research leading to ICCA we have identified a number of key competencies that need to be developed and balanced for successful intercultural communication.