Diversity Rules: How to Interact with Colleagues from Different Backgrounds

Julie Shenkman
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In today’s global business environment it is common to work with diverse groups in the accounting field. Whether your company is looking to expand overseas or has an internal team representing different cultural backgrounds, the need for accounting professionals to work effectively with diverse colleagues is becoming increasingly important.

Below are a few tips for ensuring a positive work interaction in these circumstances:

  • Don’t make assumptions. Keep an open mind when collaborating with your colleagues and treat each person as an individual and not a stereotype.
  • Communicate appropriately. Be aware of communication do’s and don’ts. Listening carefully and asking follow-up questions will help you better understand what a colleague is asking for. Express yourself in a clear and concise manner and avoid the use of slang or idiomatic expressions, since individuals from other cultures may not understand them.
  • Search for common ground. When working with people from different professional and cultural backgrounds, you may have divergent approaches to analyzing business issues or making decisions. In situations like this, it helps to keep the focus on the common objective in order to achieve a more productive working relationship.
  • Be aware of formal versus informal work environments. One common difference between workplaces across borders is the level of formality. In some cultures, for example, interactions are more reserved and employees do not address their supervisors by their first names. By developing an understanding of how both commonalities and differences contribute to effective working relationships, the department will be able to operate more productively.
  • Build rapport. As organizations continue to grow, the need to build personal relationships has taken on added importance. Socializing with coworkers will help the communication process and make all of your colleagues feel more connected and a part of the team.

This article was provided by Accountemps, a division of Robert Half International, Inc. As the industry leader and expert in temporary financial staffing, the company provides an array of resources to job seekers, including salary data, job search tips, advice on which skills are in demand, and online courses providing continuing professional education credits. Accountemps has more than 330 offices worldwide and offers online job search services at www.accountemps.com.


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