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Career Counselor
How to Interact With Diverse Colleagues

July 2006 Many companies today are building teams that will help expand business on an international scale. As a result, the need for accounting professionals to work effectively with diverse groups is becoming increasingly important. As an accountant you may already work with colleagues from different cultural backgrounds and interact with professionals from international companies -- or likely will be soon.

Below are a few tips for ensuring a positive interaction when working with people from different backgrounds than your own:

Don't make assumptions. Keep an open mind when collaborating with your colleagues and treat each person as an individual and not a stereotype.

Communicate appropriately. Be aware of communication dos and don'ts. Listening carefully and asking follow-up questions will help you better understand what a colleague is asking for. Express yourself in a clear and concise manner and avoid the use of slang or idiomatic expressions, since individuals from other cultures may not understand them.

Search for common ground. When working with people from different professional and cultural backgrounds, you may have divergent approaches to analyzing business issues or making decisions. In situations like this, it helps to keep the focus on the common objective in order to achieve a more productive working relationship.

Be aware of formal versus informal work environments. One common difference between workplaces across borders is the level of formality associated with the office. In some cultures, for example, interactions are more reserved and employees do not address their supervisors by their first names. By developing an understanding of how both commonalities and differences contribute to effective working relationships, the department will be able to operate more productively.

Build rapport. As organizations continue to grow, the need to build personal relationships has taken on added importance. Socializing with coworkers will help the communication process and make all of your colleagues feel more connected and a part of the team.

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ACCOUNTEMPS is a specialized temporary staffing service for accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. Accountemps provides support throughout an accounting department. Headquartered in Menlo Park, Calif., Accountemps and has more than 270 offices in North America, Europe and Australia. Accountemps' Career Counselor column, a SmartPros staple for over four years, is refreshed twice a month.

2006 SmartPros Ltd. All rights reserved.

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