Bangladesh has experienced a rise in Nordic and International corporations in recent years. The work environment has shifted from local to global where people from different countries and cultures work together. Hence, it has become imperative to understand a person who comes from a different country and culture to ensure long-term growth and success.
Cross cultural communication is critical to a business organization. Within the business context, cross cultural communication refers to interpersonal communication and interaction across different cultures. This has become an important issue in today’s age of globalization. Awareness of cultural differences can positively impact the success of a business. Improved staff interaction, better customer relations and effective client management are all areas that will reap benefits through cross cultural understanding.
The Nordic Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Bangladesh (NCCI) organized a session on cross-cultural communication by Pellegrino Riccardi from 5th – 7Th December in Dhaka for its members to provide an insight on cross-cultural communication and to better understand their Bangladeshi or Nordic counterparts. Currently, there are 45 members in the Chamber consisting of all the major Nordic players.
Pellegrino Riccardi is a world renowned cross-cultural communication expert who travels around the world providing services for international companies and groups. He was born in the UK and raised in an Italian family. He moved to Norway in 1995 and has been working there for over 16 years now. Pellegrino delivers his presentation and lectures in the form of “Edutainment”, a mixture of education and entertainment. He uses a combination of humour and theory as a tool of learning. His clients include some of Norway’s largest international organisations, both in the private and public sector, including Statoil, Telenor, Aker Solutions, Nycomed, The Norwegian School of Management BI, Statkraft, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Det Norske Veritas.
The first edutainment session by Pellegrino Riccardi was organized at Ericsson Bangladesh Ltd from 0900-1300 hrs on 5th Dec 2011 exclusively for NCCI members only. The session was attended by representatives of Ericsson, Tetrapak, Novo Nordisk, A-Tex International, Rudholm and GraphicPeople. The Nordic Chamber also invited journalists of English dailies The Independent and The Daily Star with a view to spread the importance and need of awareness on cross cultural communication in Bangladesh.
The second session took place at GP House on 5th Dec for employees of GPIT. In both the sessions, Pellegrino discussed various aspects of cross-cultural communication such as Basic Human Needs, Cultural Intelligence, Richard Lewis Communication Model, Perception, Individualism, Power Distance, Masculinity, Uncertainty Avoidance etc. with the support of case studies and videos to demonstrate the traits of diverse cultures.
Pellegrino believes all humans, irrespective of their nationalities, have four basic needs – Certainty, Uncertainty (some in the form of problems & surprises), Significance and Connection/Relationship. These are the key emotions that relate us understanding different society, their lifestyles and work environment. These qualities are the root to successful multinational business ventures. Understanding gives you certainty, significance builds the respect, relationship/connection bestows flexibility and uncertainty conveys surprises with motivation to recognize and balance the problems. People who are good at adapting and dealing with uncertainties are regarded culturally intelligent. Cultural Quotient (CQ) or Cultural Intelligence is the ability to understand and create a rewarding collaboration where cultural differences play a role. Cultural intelligence consists of cultural knowledge, tolerating uncertainty, behavioural flexibility, being non-judgemental and self-questioning.
Pellegrino used the Lewis Model of Culture developed by Richard Lewis Communications to classify cultures. Blue cultures are linear-active and is based on Individualism, equality, freedom, linear and fact-oriented. All the Nordic countries fall under the blue spectrum. Red cultures are considered to be multi-active and are based on collectivism, hierarchy, emotions and have obligation towards their duty. Bangladesh falls between the red and yellow spectrum. Yellow cultures are reactive and are based on honour, harmony, intuition and obedience. Majority of the South-east Asian countries are regarded as yellow cultures. Pellegrino also shared his views Individualism, Power Distance and Feminine culture. He also drew comparison on how different cultures perceive each other.
On 6th Dec 2011, NCCI organized its Annual Dinner with Pellegrino Riccardi at the ultra modern facilities of GP House in Bashundhara, Dhaka. The programme commenced with a welcome note and a review of NCCI activities in its first year of operation. The annual review was followed by an engrossing session by Pellegrino Riccardi on cross-cultural communication. The event was attended by the Ambassadors of Denmark, Norway & Sweden, Commercial Counsellors and NCCI members comprising of Country Managers and Managing Directors of several Nordic companies. The edutainment session was followed with rocking performances by Rusty Ramblers, a local soul & blues band. The programme ended with a gala dinner.
NCCI organized two sessions on 7th Dec 2011, the last day of Pellegrino Riccardi in Bangladesh. The morning session was organized at the Nordic Club which was attended by its member’s alongwith representatives from Nokia, Tetrapak, Somewhere in net ltd. and Bangla Trac. The afternoon session was organized for the staff of the three Scandinavian Embassies – Denmark, Norway & Sweden, at the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Gulshan, Dhaka.
People seek constant improvement in every field of life. Trying to fulfill its expectations people keep on searching for “La Dolce Vita” and that’s where we allow our self into cross-cultural interactions. Pellegrino concluded his three days visit on a note that people have developed an awareness and ability to understand the significance of cultural differences which will help them to communicate effectively. Pellegrino left Dhaka on the 7th evening to conduct a workshop in Indonesia. Apart from intercultural communication, he also delivers workshops on negotiation skills, relationship selling skills and presentation skills. Pellegrino had a very hectic schedule and a high level of engagement of local & international participants in Dhaka. He was overwhelmed with the people during his first visit to Bangladesh. And NCCI will strive to ensure that it was not his last.