Strategies for Intercultural Conflict Management in the Workplace

There are more than 80,000 multinational corporations operating in the world today.

With more cross-border interaction, different cultures are meeting in the workplace. When cultures with different approaches to doing business meet, intercultural conflict can occur.

For business leaders, knowing how to approach intercultural disagreement is important. A big part of conflict management is understanding where it comes from.

Keep reading to learn more about managing conflict in the workplace. 

What Is Intercultural Conflict?

Conflict is a dispute between two or more parties. It happens when values, goals, needs, interests, and opinions don’t meet.

Intercultural conflict happens between people from different cultures. It happens because people have their own beliefs about the right behaviour. When those beliefs about the right behaviour don’t meet, conflict occurs.

Understand Where Conflict Comes From

Different cultures have different languages, norms, values, and customs. These effect behaviour in the workplace.

For example, some cultures think personal relationships are important when doing business. They prefer to do business with people they get along well with. Other cultures don’t believe that those relationships are important for getting work done.

These ways of working can make it hard to overcome conflict. The first feels more comfortable talking about the conflict. The latter prefers an indirect approach. 

Why Is Intercultural Conflict Management Important?

Conflict is never good for business. Conflict causes disruptions, absenteeism, and termination. But it can also affect productivity and the success of projects.

Trust and support create a workplace where morale is high. When people from different backgrounds work together, the result is creativity. That means creative approaches and solutions to business objectives and better business overall.

How to Handle Intercultural Conflict

People from different cultures have different approaches to how to act. But they also have different beliefs about handling conflict. This is why conflict management has to come from leadership. 

Here are some steps to follow:

  • Know and understand the cultural background of employees.
  • Educate employees on multiculturalism and each other’s cultures.
  • Approach conflict from a multicultural frame of reference.
  • Never rank one cultural understanding over another.
  • Develop compassion, empathy, and self-awareness in management and employees.
  • Always aim to reconcile.

An important part of conflict management is education. Help your employees understand their differences. Do so with empathy and compassion.

Then, conflict is less likely to arise. And when it does, they will have tools for dealing with it.

Conflict From Language

As a leader, you need to understand what conflict is and where it comes from. That is the key to intercultural conflict management. Without this understanding, you can’t educate your team.

A lot of conflicts come from differences in value, beliefs, customs, and norms. But some conflicts arise as a result of differences in language. For that, we have the solution.

Contact us to learn more about our specialised translation services.