Neil Payne

Article Summary:

Tips for hiring the right cross cultural communication consultant.

Hiring a Cross Cultural Communication Consultant

Cross cultural communication consultants have come a long way in the short period of time such specialists have been in demand. No longer are they expatriates with a few years overseas experience and the capability to impart their knowledge onto others. Cross cultural consultants now bring expertise that is founded upon a number of key factors.

Cross cultural consultants generally have a broad knowledge and experience of two or more different cultures. This knowledge is then employed to assist companies and individuals overcome challenges brought about through cross cultural differences in business. Areas in which assistance is needed may range from relocation briefings to company mergers or management techniques. The ability to diagnose and treat cross cultural problems is developed through their experience in a number of different fields.

Academic Knowledge
Cross cultural consultants will generally have an academic background either in specific courses such as 'Cross Cultural Communication and Trade' or 'Cross Cultural Psychology' or in related courses such as 'International Relations' or 'Business Studies'.  Their studies will equip them with the academic skills and knowledge of the field that will later be applied in the business context.

Business Know-how
It is critical for cross cultural consultants to have considerable business experience. If this is lacking then academic knowledge is not usually sufficient to understand the mechanics of business operations. In order to understand how things work and the different challenges facing managers and staff it is critical to have experienced it first hand.

Training Experience
Through courses and practical experience a cross cultural consultant will have knowledge of training techniques. This will include communication skills, presentation methods, the use of activities and utilization of different technology and media.

Living Abroad
Experience of living abroad, mixing with different cultures, speaking different languages and working in foreign offices is vital for any cross cultural consultant. Without having been exposed to a different culture how can one advise on working effectively with that culture? It is important that this emersion in the target culture has been to the extent that the cross cultural consultant can totally empathise with the culture and understand its dynamics.

Speaking a Foreign Language
Language carries with it cultural coding. All experts, commentators and linguists are unanimous that without knowledge of the language the culture can never be appreciated. A cross cultural consultant will therefore have this insider knowledge not only through living and working in a country but also by using and understanding the language.

The complexity and diversity of cross cultural challenges in the international business world is reflected in the broad knowledge and skills of cross cultural consultants. Drawing on expertise gained through a variety of interrelated fields, the cross cultural consultant is now truly a specialist of great importance.

Neil Payne has travelled, worked and studied extensively in the Middle East. Based in London, UK, he has successfully completed an MA in Middle Eastern Studies at SOAS University. Drawing on his experience as a language teacher, translator and cultural consultant, he has established Kwintessential Ltd., a cross cultural communications consultancy that provides cultural awareness training, language tuition, translation and interpretation. For more information, visit our "Cross Cultural Communication section" at www.kwintessential.co.uk.

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