Cross-cultural awareness is an understanding of why people from backgrounds that differ from our own act, think, and communicate the way they do. Using that information, one can establish better personal and professional relationships with people and companies from diverse cultures. This knowledge not only illustrates the willingness of a company to negotiate on fair grounds but also aids in predicting how your counterparts will act, speak, think, respond, make decisions and perceive the world.
It is important to note, particularly with regard to First Nations and Métis that “culture” is not static, nor is there a general ‘First Nations culture’. Companies must take great caution not to endorse stereotypes or pigeonhole people/communities into categories. Each community must be researched on an individual basis and as a sovereign entity differing from other First Nations in land, language, traditions, population, government etc.
Any one person or company who deals with people from different cultures particularly in a professional capacity must acquire a reasonable awareness of the cultures they are working with. It is imperative both from an economic and social perspective to be fully aware of the strategies foreign cultures employ when doing business with others. Ensuring that all proponents involved in a business transaction are able to make an informed decision paves the way to project success with minimal risk to either side.
Cross cultural awareness in the business world is a two way street. An understanding of Canadian customs is equally important for your counterpart. However, some counterparts may not have the same access to your business culture therefore a concerted and genuine effort must be made to provide them with as much information as possible about the reasons and rationale behind proposals and projects. Transparency is vital to project support and success. If you make the effort to learn about your counterpart, you will both be making the attempt to understand each other; opening the lines of communication, and increasing your chances for success. Understanding how culture may affect a person or communities’ character, will most certainly give you an edge in business interactions and cross cultural communication.