How to Build Trust Globally

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Building trust globally can be difficult as employees need to learn different cultural contexts!

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Trust is important in the workplace for effective teams, positive work environments, and relationships at work. However, how you build trust does vary from person to person or team to team. This is particularly important in the global context. Today, we highlight some fascinating research on how to build trust globally.

Global Context

Have you worked with team members across the globe? Or worked with vendors, clients, or other business partners? Have you ever noticed some things getting lost in translation? Different countries and regions have different customs, expectations, and social norms. There are varying levels of politeness and formality. The way you do business in different countries varies as well. As we continue to get more and more global in business, it’s important to understand the practices and differences in the regions we are working with.

A more global work context requires us to learn how to build trust across cultures!

The cultural context of the people you are working with matters when building trust. Regions and cultures even have varying levels of trust globally. In some societies, it is normal to trust strangers easily. In others, suspicion and skepticism are more common. However, even though building trust globally is difficult, it is important. Trust in our work relationships can lead not only to improved performance but also psychological safety, the ability to be authentic at work, and positive relationships. These areas all lead to improved employee happiness and well-being.

Differences in Building Trust

So how do you build trust globally?

In East Asian cultures, individuals first want to understand your reputation, then test your competence, followed by a social interaction. In the Middle East and in South Asian cultures, respect takes center stage. It is important to always show respect for your colleague’s values, even if different from your own. Probably a good rule to follow everywhere! But it’s important to know that new partners or colleagues will be tested to ensure they are respectful. In Latin American cultures, the social relationship is the first and more important thing. They look to understand a new colleague’s reputation followed by assessing them for a match in values. Similarity in values is important here. And, finally, North American and European cultures tend to have a more embedded trust. They assume the new colleague is trustworthy until proven otherwise.

When you build trust with your global partners, everyone wins!

As you can see, these 4 very broad regions can have very different ways to build trust. If you go into a culture different than your own, it can be easy to make a mistake and ruin the trust building inadvertently. The most important thing is to keep differences in mind and to make sue you do your research to make sure you are not offending anyone or starting the relationship poorly.

There’s a lot of detail you can dig into on this topic. And we think it’s important for your career and your wellness to ensure you build positive global business relationships. For more details, stay tuned this week as we share a great interview with the author of this amazing work on our podcast. Check out their recent book and paper (plus these articles here and here) to give you more details on how to do this effectively.

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