Language and Culture: Their Differences and the Importance of Understanding Them

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Language and Culture: Their Differences and the Importance of Understanding Them

Working between different teams which are based within different countries can seem like a daunting prospect, but Godel’s cross-cultural sessions help alleviate any worries their clients may have when partnering with a nearshore developer.

Elena Bukhatkina, Godel’s Head of Language Development, has a keen eye for detail when it comes to both cultural and language barriers and how to overcome them and she explains how she encourages the teams to work interdependently.

«A mutual understanding is necessary when it comes to language and culture», says Elena, «and I consider it vitally important to help the two teams gel together, for the work to benefit both Godel and the client. To ensure this, I run cross-cultural sessions for our clients and our development teams whereby I outline the key features and elements of each culture. This helps the teams to understand one another better and ultimately work together more effectively.

Some recent feedback on the RS Components engagement has highlighted the effectiveness and importance of these sessions and that they are vital in keeping an engagement healthy and positive. Not only this, but acknowledgements such as these prove that the hard work is worth it and spurs the teams to continue to understand one another.»

David Boyd, Agile Coach at Godel client RS Components, has recently commented on a cross-cultural session he attended. «I just wanted to say a big thank you… that session was really enlightening and I’m sure it will help us work together more effectively. Everyone I’ve spoken to has said how much they enjoyed it. Incredibly interesting and useful information… it made what could be a challenging topic very accessible to everyone».

«This feedback highlights to me that the sessions are fulfilling their intended purpose of helping to map and understand the differences in the following areas:

  • Communication (low-context versus high-context)
  • Evaluation (direct negative feedback versus indirect negative feedback)
  • Trust (task-based versus relationship-based)

During the 5 years I have spent working at Godel, I’ve learnt there are some notable contrasts between Belarusian and UK teams. A common one is our difference in expressing opinions — Brits are known for politeness, whereas Belarusians are known for being direct! The contrast is not black and white, but I think it’s vital to learn about, and take on board the culture of the people you are communicating with, to prevent any misunderstandings. Godel’s cross-cultural sessions provide a window of opportunity for Godel and their clients to learn about each other’s cultures outside of their busy schedules.

Being aware of, and trying to tend to cultural differences, can make a huge difference to relationships. If one of our developers can make a conscious effort to be more polite and less straightforward, not only will our client appreciate the effort, but it will help build a more positive relationship, which in turn creates a favourable environment for our best, most innovative work to be produced. The cross-cultural sessions which I run for Godel and our clients help the parties understand each other as much as is possible.»

Godel’s cross-cultural workshops help clients and employees understand the differences between the UK and Belarusian cultures, which enables them to decide how culture influences their own international collaboration and avoid painful situations. In addition to this, prior to signing a new partner, we always invite a client to visit their teams in their offices in Belarus, which enables the client to fully comprehend how their team likes to work, and how they work best. They get a true feel for their culture and what makes them ‘tick’.

For more information or to find out about future cross-cultural workshops, then please get in touch.

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