The Need for Intercultural Competency in your Workplace

Guest blog by: Karanveer Singh Brar

With the fast pace in globalization and drastic change in the business world, there have been an increased number of people traveling to different countries in the search of better life and well-paying jobs. This has led to developing a need for adapting to the concept of multiculturism and diversity.


The concept of diversity is a burning topic in western countries where people from different rthnicities and cultures reside together in search of better life. This diversity in the workplace offers an entirely new challenge for the employers. Anyone traveling from a different part of the world has their own set of beliefs, norms, values and most importantly perspectives, for instance, colors depict different meanings in among cultures. Sometimes these differences can be stark, so it is necessary to inculcate these differences in a good way so that everyone feels respected. Effective communication at the workplace is the most essential stepping-stone for bringing together people from different cultures. This includes sharing ideas, beliefs and understanding to help adapt quickly and work productively for the organization.

Every organization defines a set of goals and has a vision towards their success, but having a set of rules in place is not the only thing the organization can rely on. It is the effective delivery of these goals and ideas to the employees that would bring a change. Since we are talking about a multicultural workforce, the delivery of these ideas have to be very clear and easy for anyone to understand. According to Graduateway (2016) “A diverse cultural community helps an organization to change their market and moreover an organization has to be familiar with the social aspects of thinking in order to reach to their desired target.”Image 2

To put this in perspective, let me take my personal experience as an example. I came to Canada as an international student, found a part time job at a big store. I had certain set of duties and tasks to perform everyday like maintaining a clean and safe work environment, being friendly to my colleagues and managers and above all interacting with customers. During the first week of my job, I found it very hard to talk to anyone. I was hesitant to initiate conversation fearing what the person in would think of me as I was from a different part of the world and wore a turban. However, my managers and colleagues were very friendly and open minded and helped me out in every task where I felt stuck. I was fortunate that I worked in an organization where people helped each other but not everyone is always that lucky.

If my coworkers would have been rude or offensive to my opinions or culture, I would have faced a lot of difficulty in adjusting to my new life and could have even quit. Concluding this, it was the friendliness, openness, warmth and understanding of my peers that made a difference. This clearly defines the important role that intercultural communication played in developing a strong and long-lasting relationship with the organization.

There are various ways through which intercultural communication at the workplace can become effective. One of the best ways is listening to the podcasts and reading books on interculturism. Recently, I found a podcast  about resolving the issues related to intercultural communication by understanding the nature of intercultural conflicts. In this video (2017), Marie Gervais, CEO Shift Management Inc. talks about the diversity in the developed countries. Followed by the discussion on the ways understanding can be improved among the individuals who come from different cultures or countries.

Communication has a deeper meaning than what we normally perceive. It is effective when it creates a friendly environment and encourages people to share their ideas without skepticism. Also, communication should make people feel comfortable about discussing their opinions with their supervisors and other higher authorities. Sometimes a person with a brilliant idea can be undermined just because they are culturally different. Thirdly, effective communication not only means communicating the message effectively but also giving an equal importance to the feedback because this will make anyone feel valued for their thoughts. As a consequence, if effective intercultural communication is practiced at the workplace, the process of adapting to a new culture would speed up for a new immigrant and they would be able to work more productively and efficiently.

Additional Resources

Gaille, B. (2014, January 28). What Colors Mean in Different Cultures. Retrieved from

Graduateway. (2016, May). Retrieved March 16, 2020, from Managing Cultural Diversity in the Workplace Essay Example:

Gervais, M. (2017) Intercultural Communication at Work: Understanding Cultural Conflict Styles · ShiftWorkPlace. Retrieved from

Intercultural communication in the workplace and the role of communication in an organization. (n.d.). Retrieved March 16, 2020, from НОО Профессиональная наука:

Rouse, M. (2020, January 29). What Is Globalization? Globalization Explained. Retrieved from

Wolfe, M. (2019, February 11). Changes in the Business World. Retrieved from