The highlight of my career at Mandel Communications has been developing the team of communications experts who work with our clients around the world.
We started the process in China. I’ll never forget my first night in Shanghai. For someone who grew up in southeastern Utah in a small town of 2000, I felt a bit overwhelmed in a city of 24 million!
Going global was a must for Mandel, as it continues to be for corporations around the world. Still, we wrestled with how to go about it.
- How would we find the right people to work with us?
- What would we need to do to adapt our business model to meet the needs of customers in different geographies?
- Would communication training be vastly different, the further we got from our corporate HQ in Capitola, CA?
Answering those questions and building our global presence to what it is today didn’t happen without hiccups, and we learned many valuable lessons along the way.
One of the most thrilling things I realized is that there are ways of communicating that truly transcend all borders. Three “tools” in particular were instrumental in helping me to build stronger relationships with my new colleagues and partners around the world.
As Aretha Franklin sang in the 60s, a little respect goes a long way when communicating with people of different cultures, languages, and traditions.
A colleague of mine, Andrea Raabe, said it beautifully: “Every culture is different and wonderful, including ours. We don't need to change ourselves to host properly, simply show respect. People appreciate effort, not perfection.”
Before travelling or meeting with colleagues from around the world, I always do a little homework. I like to learn about local ways of doing business, their protocol for meeting and greeting, and their approach to hospitality.
For example, on my first trip to Malaysia, I was curious about what I should wear, since it’s a predominantly Muslim country. My colleague told me that there was no need for me to wear a headscarf, or hijab. He did suggest that I wear long sleeves and a high neck, which was a simple but respectful thing to do.
My husband, who travels internationally for his work, always learns five phrases in the local language: hello, goodbye, please, thank you…and no problem! His colleagues appreciate his interest in and respect for their language, and it helps to establish rapport quickly in new situations.
Albert Einstein is often quoted as saying, “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”
As I develop relationships with new colleagues and acquaintances around the world (and even in my own backyard), I bring my curiosity with me.
I like to ask questions and I listen carefully to peoples’ responses, so that I can better understand who they are and what they value.
I observe the people around me, to learn everything I can about how they communicate. If I see things I don’t understand, I respectfully ask for clarity or insight into why things are done the way they’re done.
Ed Musselwhite, our CEO, is often quoted as saying, “Be thoroughly prepared in order to be thoroughly flexible,” which reminds me of my trip to Beijing.
A colleague had arranged for me to have a driver who would pick me up at the airport, take me to my customer meetings, and drive me around the city. While the driver spoke Chinese, Russian, and Norwegian, I’m limited to English and a smattering of Spanish.
To make it possible for us to communicate, my driver readily adapted to the situation. He quickly called his 24 year-old, English-speaking daughter on his cell phone, and she translated for us.
Even with thorough preparation up front, inevitably things won’t always go as planned. That’s when it pays to practice “grace under pressure.” I’ve learned to take a deep breath. Smile. Then, ask for help if I need it. I find it puts others at ease and minimizes the stress people often feel in new situations, especially if things have gone awry.
When You Communicate From the Heart...
Ultimately, being respectful, curious, and flexible is about communicating from the heart. Being genuine and genuinely interested in others can only enhance your interactions, no matter where in the world you might be.
Karen Bintz, Area VP of Customer Experience at BMC Software, summarizes her experience working with colleagues around the world this way:
....I have now taught people from 31 countries, sometimes with up to 8 different countries represented in the same class. Human communication is truly global. Yes, there are nuances but in large part all people relate to open body language, gestures that paint a picture, a warm voice and certainly a smile. I can also tell you that "ums" and "uhs" are recognizable as clutter regardless of the language! We are "one world"..."how" and "what" we communicate build relationships that influence how that world turns.
Today, I can’t imagine NOT having my amazing colleagues in various locations around the world.
They’ve enriched the work we do at Mandel. They bring value to our clients, and also to me, personally. I’m grateful for them and for the experiences we’ve shared.
Looking to deliver training to audiences in multiple locations worldwide, but not sure how to do it? Mandel delivers training in 55-plus countries. We can scale programs to support your needs, while ensuring content and delivery is culturally and regionally relevant to your audience. Learn more about our Global Capabilities.
Gratitude. Appreciation. Recognition. It makes you feel good. This week in the US, many will pause for a day or two to give thanks and show appreciation for the things and people we care about most. It’s no secret how appreciation benefits the person getting it—but did you know it benefits the person giving it just as much?
Discover why recognition is such a powerful tool for improving relationships and wellbeing in life—and at work. Learn how to (and how NOT to) express your appreciation to others.
People in communities across the globe are adjusting to communicating while wearing masks. As we’re all experiencing, masks present both verbal and non-verbal communication challenges.Given this, we’ve prepared 5 tips for effective communications while wearing a mask, and compiled several insightful articles from leading publications on additional best practices.
Learn Mandel’s 3-step model for skillfully responding — not reacting — to tough questions with confidence and ease.
Admittedly, I've struggled to find a reliable way to help people reduce their public speaking anxiety, despite years of trying. I’ve advised people to do just about anything I could think of that might help, e.g., breathing, meditation. While I haven't found the thing that works every time for every person, there is one technique that seems to be more effective than most. Even if you've already found something that works well for you, this technique is worth trying out.
How do you feel about building rapport? Many introverts feel uncomfortable when it comes to rapport-building because they think it means having to make “small talk” with others. If that’s you, fear not. You don't need the gift of gab to build good rapport. And having the gift of gab (or being extroverted) doesn't guarantee success either — especially if you're the one doing most of the talking.
Read the blog to get specific rapport-building tips anyone can use to quickly make a strong connection with others.
Have you ever encountered an unfriendly meeting participant while presenting? Maybe you know someone who constantly interrupts, asks aggressive questions, or worse, tries to take over your meeting. Believe it or not, you have more control over these conference room bullies than you think.
Learn how to recognize these strong personalities, the things you may be doing to trigger their behavior, and what you can do right now to strengthen your command of the room and feel more confident in front of any audience.
Listening is the most important communication skill. Why? Because nothing kills relationships or productivity faster than NOT listening. Communication barriers, like poor active listening, cost the average organization a staggering $62.4 million a year. Want to improve your team's listening skills? Want to become a better active listener yourself? Use these 4 steps to become a better active listener and start having more productive conversations with your colleagues and customers.
Ever wonder how the best speakers fully engage their audience while looking natural and at ease? It starts with expanding your presentation comfort zone and seeing yourself objectively. Video recording, coupled with expert coaching, can take your communication skills to the next level. Find out how the experts do it.
What’s the secret to wildly productive first-time sales meetings or conversations with executives? Thought-provoking questions. Read the blog to find out why—and how to tell if YOUR questions are thought-provoking enough to make customers want to learn more.
As the year comes to a close, here's a look back at Mandel's most popular skill-building content of 2017. Whether trying to make a great first impression, give a persuasive presentation, or convince others to support your idea, how you communicate will be key to your success in 2018. To help you prepare, we’ve curated this list of the most downloaded skill-building content just for you.
- Leading a Virtual Team Means Doing Things Differently
- Are You Really Listening?
- 4 Listening Tips for Improving Your Virtual Meetings
- The Irresistible Power of Stories in Virtual Selling
- The Top Sales Skill for 2021!
- Top Virtual Communication Mistakes – and How to Overcome Them in 2021!
- Tell a Story. Close a Deal. Even on Zoom.
- Throwback: Why Appreciation Matters in Life and at Work
- Tips for Communicating Effectively While Wearing a Mask
- Five Tips From a Virtual Meeting Producer