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Global Leadership: A Perspective from Taiwan

Professional communication in Taiwan is generally considered to be relationship-oriented.

For eg, building strong relationships with employees, customers, and partners is emphasized to build trust and loyalty. Most people will put extra effort into avoiding upsetting clients, partners, or other stakeholders at the expense of pushing through a deadline.

If you are used to this communication style, when working with people who may be more task-oriented than you (for example Danish, American, or Australian people as well as Taiwanese Gen Z-ers), here are three communication tips to help avoid any potential misunderstandings and ensure your cross-cultural collaboration succeeds:

1. Offer your objective views as well as personal opinions and be patient with those who want to spend more time in meetings sharing what may seem like unnecessary viewpoints or complaints, they may just be sharing creative ideas in order to ensure the best possible outcome.

2. Embrace differences of opinion or even conflict as part of the process - your partners or team members may see it as a way to build trust.

3. As a leader, put more emphasis on the results your team members produce rather than how, when, and for how long they do it. Task-based cultures may focus more on efficient work environments where people tend to prefer completing their own individual tasks and then leaving the office or closing their computers for the day.

As with all other areas regarding intercultural communication, how task or relationship-focused you are may depend on many other factors besides nationality and age group, for example: your industry, occupation, and personality.

Awareness that you Do have a preference and habits, and it may be different from others that you lead, collaborate, or communicate with is key to success.

In intercultural communication, the only style that you should focus on adapting is your own. Interestingly, however, if you do try to stand in other's shoes and adjust your own approach, you’ll find that they may just naturally do the same.

I recently led a leadership workshop on team-building for a Japanese company's Taiwanese branch. Leaders from Taipei, Taoyuan, Yilan, and Tainan came together to discuss intercultural approaches to teamwork (they increasingly need to communicate with their US parent company) with both internal and external stakeholders.

I've released a new online course "In-Depth Guide to Workplace Communication | Developing Cultural Competence for Business Professionals." 職場英文大補帖|商務人士必備的跨文化溝通指南. Check it out here!

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