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Cross-Cultural Graces

Womenlines is delighted to share about Anjalika, an IITTI (CANADA) certified professional Image Branding & Lifestyle Consultant, as an Influencer for Image Branding at Womenlines. Yes womenfolk, gear up to learn the tips and tricks to carry yourself with excellence and make excellence your brand. Check out incredible tips to avoid glitches while having cross-cultural interactions-

Over the years, the world feels like it has gotten smaller as travels have been made easier.  People of different backgrounds get together, communicate, interact – socially or professionally much more rampantly than it had ever before.  As people of the world get more in touch with each other, there might be some cross-cultural glitches in their day-to-day dealings.

From experience, here are the few things that we need to keep in mind; to keep up with cross-cultural graces.

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Let us first look at greetings; the words used and actions did have to be taken into consideration when you are dealing inter-culturally.  Something that is acceptable in one culture might not be to another.   In quite a recent spate the media had witnessed, the unseen happened when an individual of certain religious belief refused to shake the hand of someone of the opposite gender.  This happened in a professional setting and it caused so much embarrassment and inconvenience.  This could have been avoided if both parties understand the common greeting gesture of each other, coming from different parts of the globe.  Many countries have their own sets of greetings; it will be really helpful if you know and are aware of those before the big meet-up.  Research, know the words and gestures that are frowned upon so you can avoid them.

Years ago, when I first stepped into the professional world, being on a first-name basis with someone more senior than me, in terms of ranks, was a definite no!  These days, however, it is widely accepted.  That said, there are still a handful of other places on the map, where people in certain ranks prefer to be called Miss, Madam or other titles that show that they are more senior than you and if this is not practised, one will be considered unprofessional or even rude.  When you first meet someone, pay attention to how they are being introduced to you and then use that similar form of address.  Bear in mind, across many cultures, people with academic degrees such as Professor and Doctor would usually prefer to be addressed as such.


Wearing an appropriate piece of clothing is really important to set the tone for your meeting.  It is always necessary to know what is acceptable or not in the country you are visiting – do not just assume.  In certain places like Japan, a professional ensemble like a skirt suit is always expected, while in Scandinavia for example, professional settings are more relaxed.  It is always wise to find out all these before embarking on the meet-up.


It is said, one way to see the credibility of a person is through her punctuality.  Being punctual means you are respectful of the other person’s time.   It is important to understand, while in certain places being ‘fashionably late’ is acceptable, in other places however, it might be something that is frowned upon.   If you are caught in something unavoidable and indeed going to be late, do call to inform the other party.  That said, its always never a bad thing to be on time; if anything, it is commendable – so, why not just do that.


Always maintain good space between yourself and the other person.  Although not carved in stone, I personally feel spaces of between 1.5 to 2 arm-lengths is most appropriate for business dealings and co-workers.  Ensuring a comfortable space between yourself and the other party allows you to be more fluid and relaxed in the conversation.


If we are completely honest; even the best conversationalist might, from time to time find it a challenge talking to a person of a different cultural background.  This is because subjects or words that might be considered okay in one place might be a taboo to another. So it is always a good idea to read up on the place you are visiting beforehand; get an idea of what is accepted and what is not.


Zu Anjalika Kamis Gunnulfsen is the Editor (Singapore) for Marketing In Asia and certified Image Branding & Lifestyle Consultant. She was also crowned Mrs Singapore Globe 2017. Born in Singapore and blessed to have lived in a couple of other amazing cities in the world, Anjalika is currently expatriating in Kuala Lumpur. Follow her on LinkedIn, Instagram and blog www.zuanjalika.com,   LinkedIn –https://www.linkedin.com/in/zuanjalika/

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