Gone are the days when the only people we interacted with at work are those sitting in the cubicles around us. Our workplaces have gone global – and virtual – so managing relationships with colleagues, partners, and clients is trickier than ever. How can you build strong relationships that thrive despite language barriers, cultural differences, and digital divides? Start with trust.

Since starting INGCO International, I’ve learned the value of trust in many areas of my life. Trust has helped me connect with new clients, build a team of talented linguists, and create a network of fellow entrepreneurs who have provided invaluable guidance throughout my journey. I believe that trust is fundamental to everything we do – and it’s at the heart of providing people with equal access to information. 

Here are some of my favorite tips for building trust on a global scale and connecting with those who speak different languages, live in different countries, and practice different cultural traditions.

Come from a place of curiosity

In a culture pervasive in stereotypes and generalizations, it’s easy to make assumptions about people without understanding them on an individual level. As I’ve traveled across the globe and met with people from all walks of life, I’ve learned it’s best to start by listening. Learn as much as you can about the people you’re working with – what they do, what matters to them, what motivates them, and how they prefer to engage with you. 

If you need help communicating in ways that work for both of you, engage an interpreter who can bridge the gap and ensure accurate, effective communication for all involved. Bringing an interpreter to the table shows you genuinely care about communicating clearly, understanding what they have to say, and making a meaningful connection based on trust.

Embrace your differences

It’s natural for people to have cultural and social boundaries that help them feel safe and respected, but these boundaries can be especially strong when interacting with those who have different norms and expectations. To build trust, find common ground and embrace what makes you different. Ask thoughtful questions, communicate clearly, and keep an open mind. 

Remember that how others behave or express emotion may differ considerably from your “normal.” Approach the relationship with curiosity rather than judgment to allow others to be authentically themselves and start your relationship off on the right foot. As you build trust, make note of words or gestures that mean something different in their language and adjust your language accordingly.

Create shared goals

One of the best ways to build and maintain trust is to work toward a common goal. Take time to understand their goals and ask how you can contribute to their success. Map out what success looks like for each of you and create a plan for achieving those goals together. As you work together, check in regularly to ensure you’re aligned. If you’ve gotten off track, communicate clearly and respectfully. Keep in mind those cultural nuances that may be perceived differently than you intend and ask questions that will help you build trust, even when you aren’t exactly on the same page.

Be intentional 

Building trust doesn’t just happen. You have to seek to understand, build rapport, and work with integrity. Whether you’re engaging with someone for the first time or managing a relationship over time, people want to feel heard and respected. You can do that by:

  • Getting to know them personally. This may vary by culture, but if they’re open to sharing what matters to them outside of work, it can be a good way to connect and find common ground.
  • Honoring your commitments. If you miss a deadline or drop the ball, people may take it personally and assume they can’t trust you to do what you say you will. Close each conversation with a recap of accountabilities and action items, and then follow through!
  • Asking for feedback. Many people are hesitant to confront others, especially when it could turn contentious. Address issues in a timely manner and don’t be afraid to ask for feedback. A simple conversation could eliminate speculation and provide a safe place to resolve issues respectfully.

Our team of experts has worked with people across the globe who come from diverse backgrounds, speak many languages, and work in different industries. If your organization needs help building trusted relationships with global clients, partners, or employees, INGCO International can help. We’ll build a plan, provide resources based on your specific needs, and help you build and maintain trust with those who matter most to your success.