Communicating effectively with Americans requires English skills that reflect an understandable accent and knowledge of norms in the U.S. for interacting with others. The knowledge element is where your employees need an understanding of how Americans think and behave. We call this Cultural Training.
What is Culture?
Everyone carries rules for correct behavior in their heads. An example of the rules for your group is found in something as simple as a discussion. When two people talk to each other, there are expected behaviors. For example, the distance that they stand apart and the amount of eye contact can affect the success a business meeting These rules are not written down, but everyone knows them.
When someone does not follow the rules, the other person notices it immediately and usually thinks that something is wrong. For example: “Oh, he is standing so close to me that it makes me uncomfortable. Is he trying to dominate me?”
These rules guide the behavior of each person in the group. The rules come from the basic assumptions that the group makes about how people interact with each other, how they deal with the world about them, and how they interpret time. Although each individual is unique, people from one group (or country) have a common set of rules or assumptions.
When you meet someone from a different group, you often find that they behave differently than your norm. You find that, when the behaviors of one group are compared to those of another group, there are often differences. These cultural differences and are the source of many of the problems between peoples of different groups.
How Does ALTA’s Cultural Training Work?
ALTA’s American culture training for business is aimed at giving each employee an understanding of how Americans think and behave in situations where communication occurs.
The cultural training involves building a model of the similarities and differences between behaviors of Americans and people of the home country (e.g. India) across eleven different dimensions. These dimensions form the basis of a methodology for characterizing a culture. Two examples of dimensions are Individualism versus Group or Formality versus Informality.
Once the students understand the models of the behaviors of both the Americans and people of the home country, sample situations are created that show the differences. This role-play reinforces understanding. Practical application of the model to realistic situations builds both confidence and competence in communicating effectively with Americans.
ALTA provides online support materials to the student. The support materials focus on the model of differences and examples of practical applications of the model.