Give Feedback That Crosses Cultures

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Giving critical feedback is an essential part of a manager’s job. But people in Shanghai don’t provide feedback in the same way as people in Strasbourg or Stockholm, so how can do your job when you’re working across cultures? Here are three tips:

  • Learn the new rules. Read up on the values, beliefs, and assumptions people generally hold about social interactions in this region. Observe it in action to pick up on cues, such as how direct you’re expected to be, or how important is it to save face in group settings.
  • Customize your behavior. Don’t assume you have to “go native.” You can often create a blend of styles that’s comfortable to you and effective in the new setting.
  • Find a cultural mentor. Look for someone who’s worked in the area, preferably for many years. She can help you craft an approach that fits you and the place you work.

Adapted from “Giving Feedback Across Cultures” by Andy Molinsky.

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