Working in the travel industry brings a diversity of cultures to the work environment. From colleagues in the far far East till our friendly Belgium and Flamish neighbours. Culture, habbits and languages differ, which causes not rarely awkward and funny situations. How to overcome these cultural differences? Read on..
Let’s start with our friendly Belgium neighbours, colleagues and clients. Often Dutch people think too lightly about the differences between the Belgium culture and ours. It may even be that the differences in culture between the Netherlands and Belgium is even higher than the differences between the Dutch culture and the Spanish one. Why? Take a look at this image:
And although the Dutch and Flemish languages are quite similar, they are definitely not the same! That is what our colleague Joy learned in a funny way when visiting our colleagues of Glenaki in Belgium. Beatrice asked her to hold her ‘Tas’ [aka bag in Dutch] for a moment. ‘Which bag?’ did she ask while B. was reaching out to her with her cup of coffee [aka tas in Flemish].
To operate in the international field, you have to be aware of the differences. Shaking hands can be normal in one culture, in the other one a deep bow is preferable. A language can look familiar, but might be more difficult to understand than you think (Flemish, German..). Even the meaning of words in the same language can cause confusion. ‘We’ll come back to you soon’ [in English], might mean within a few days in the Netherlands, but rather weeks or months in Africa.. 😉
So, try to be openminded, learn about the culture of your communication partners and realize that you are wearing different cultural glasses and have an other frame of reference. Respecting these differences, makes communicating a whole lot easier. To help you a bit with ‘getting in the material’, herebeneath some great inspiration! 😀