Succeed in America

Overcome Cultural and Linguistic Barriers. Improve Effectiveness 

letters-786090__340-2In the business world, lack of information about etiquette and unspoken rules on gender interaction and norms can create misunderstandings crucial for an individual’s success. Consider the following job interview situation, adapted from the book How to Get a Job in the USA:

 Olga Petrovskaya did not understand why it took so long for her to get a job in America. She had graduated with honors from the top technical school in Saint Petersburg Polytechnical University, Russia.

She had been the most valuable IT manager in a very successful jewelry manufacturing plant for the last two years. When her family moved to the US, she was not worried at all about the transition. Her English, she thought, was fairly good and her profession was in great demand in America. [pullquote]In the business world, lack of information about etiquette and unspoken rules on gender interaction and norms can create misunderstandings crucial for an individual’s success.[/pullquote]

But things did not proceed as smooth as she had anticipated. Potential employers were impressed with her credentials, as well as her résumé, which she had created with the help of an American friend. However, even though she went to many interviews, she did not receive any job offers.

She could not understand why. She replayed her most recent interview in her mind again and again. Yes, she wore her best dress, the one with a little lace collar and buttons down the back; it went perfectly well with her new red patent leather shoes with silver buckles. She recalled that the recruiter, a man, seemed somewhat strange to her: he extended his hand for a handshake first. ‘How rude,’ thought Olga. Should he not wait until she, a woman, extended hers first? Then he had smiled at her throughout the interview. Did that mean he fancied her? She tried to avoid his eyes and maintain a very sombre expression so that he did not get any ideas….

Clearly, those who are being relocated internationally need to understand gender issues. The following are some suggestions for a human resources manager:

Consider the possibility that you actually have a problem. Do not assume that because expats travel a lot, they know the protocol in each and every country. Instead, ask your relocating employers to give their views on the role of women and men and how they are perceived in their cultures of origin. Never assume that your expats know the intricacies of gender interaction in the US or you will have a problem or even potentially face legal complications.

Think about getting a professional to conduct a training program to set expectations about American workplace culture. I found this helps companies address gender issues.

Many countries throughout the world have laws guarding against sexual harassment in the workplace. However, different nations have different interpretations of them. That is why I define sexual harassment in my book, Ameri$peak , as “inappropriate—from an American standpoint—behavior when interacting with the opposite sex.”

(This is an excerpt from Dr. Nara’s article published in Worldwide ERC Mobility Magazine.)

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tn[2] (2)**Dr. Nara Venditti is the owner of Succeed In America specializing in business communication skills for foreign-born professionals and cross-cultural communication in the workplace. She is passionate about cross-cultural understanding and helping non-native speakers of English succeed in the American workplace. She
 speaks  and writes on Business English and communication across languages and cultural divides. She is  the author of numerous articles and books on the topics available on SucceedinAmerica  and  on  Amazon amazon-underground-app-us-black.