Cross cultural communication strategies for doing business in Portugal
Portugal is famous for its beautiful tourist attractions. The Algarve is known throughout Europe as a wonderful resort area. Portugal is known for its excellent food and drink. Port wine is celebrated and enjoyed everywhere. This country became a part of the European Economic Union in 1986, which caused it to make a variety of adjustments to its economy. With a population of about 10,000,000, Portugal has long been known as a low cost provider of goods and services in Europe. The addition of Eastern European countries into the Economic Union has caused the Portuguese government to reassess its economic strategies. They have realized that the productivity of the labor force, as well as the types of products produced must be upgraded, which is why the role of training and education has been embraced. The country views training in a very positive light.
Cross Cultural Communication Styles
It is critical for trainers to understand some key cultural issues when preparing your programs. Portuguese professionals are very group oriented. The workplace is formal, those who are older and of higher rank are deferred to. Risk taking is viewed with a lot of caution; time is treated as being much more fluid then in North America.
Inter Cultural Training Challenges
The culture is very traditional and respected by its citizens. Change is not always welcome. The trainer is viewed as the expert. Your trainees will want to learn from you and capture your knowledge. As mentioned the group is key. Do not focus on individual behavior as this can cause discomfort in the class. Lecture is the expected method for your trainees to learn. Typical small group work can be very unpopular with trainees feeling that they should be learning from their trainer not their peers. Keep the seating classroom style. After presenting your information, don’t be surprised if your students agree with you. Do not try to “force” disagreement as the trainees will defer to your ideas as you are the expert. Topic selection should focus on the material at hand, do not get too personal with the trainees. Always address your students by their last names, as this is expected.
Speak clearly avoid idioms and slang. Your trainees may not have the English language ability you think they do. Using handouts and PowerPoint can help your trainees learn your material. This visual reinforcement of the material can improve trainee information retention. Frequent checks to see if students are following your lecture can be helpful as well. In terms of pacing your program less is more.
The topics that are in great demand tend to deal with North American management practices and supervisory skills. Presentation skills programs continue to be popular.
Portugal’s membership in the European Economic Union and its location make it a force to deal with on the world stage. Its rich culture and the positive economic adjustments it government is making, will position it well for global business success. Your knowledge of this country and its business and training environment can have a very positive impact on your organization.
Dr. Neil Orkin is president of Global Training Systems. His organization prepares corporate professionals for Global Business Success and cross-cultural management.