It took a few months and much thinking but finally it hit me: language is meaningless without an understanding of culture. And cultural differences are one of the biggest causes of misunderstandings, even between people who are speaking a mutually understood language – which in the business world these days is English.
The cultural norms we absorb unconsciously as we grow up profoundly affect how we relate to other people and our expectations of how they will behave. But it can be a huge challenge to overcome these differences, because for most of us our own culture is like water to a fish – we don’t realise we’re swimming in it!
In travelling, living and working in various countries in different parts of the world I have experienced first-hand the puzzlement, confusion, frustration, insult and even outright anger of a “culture clash” — when the other person’s behaviour didn’t match the expectations of my cultural programming.
This programming causes us to react automatically when someone doesn’t behave as we expect them to, but we don’t know WHY we’re reacting that way. And because we’re unaware of our own cultural programming, we think their behaviour is personal, so we react in some negative way, but it’s not personal, it’s cultural.
After a lot of research and learning, it became clear that cultural self-awareness was the most efficient and effective way to move beyond this barrier of cultural programming. With cultural self-awareness, you learn to recognise your own cultural triggers — the bits and bytes of the programming in your brain.
I realised this was the missing half of the equation, and thus BECC Academy was born. BECC stands for Business English Crossing Cultures. Along with business English, we give business people the training to understand your OWN cultural programming so you can control your automatic reactions when you interact with someone from a different culture.
In this way, you can avoid doing damage to beneficial relationships, and you can build deeper and stronger connections with clients, colleagues, customers, partners.
Our training integrates English language with cultural self-awareness to enable business people to confidently connect with anyone from any culture.
And the Big Picture?
Looking deeper and long, long term, this is how I see BECC Academy contributing to the world:
Business is the driver of cultural, environmental and economic change. Learning to understand themselves better helps people to connect with others who are different from them via a commonly understood language (English). Through coming to understand and form bonds with those who are different from them, people become more understanding and compassionate. When we work together with mutual understanding and care, we will change the world for the benefit of all, including the planet itself.