Communicate with Customers and Colleagues from Diverse Backgrounds – Part I

Certificate II in Hospitality – dealing with conflict at work or at schoolUndertaking a school-based traineeship in hospitality will assist you communicate with customers and colleagues from diverse backgrounds.

Since 1945, more than six million people from across the world have come to Australia to live. Today, more than 20 per cent of Australians are foreign born and more than 40 per cent are of mixed cultural origin.

Culture can be defined as:

  • “A person’s heritage and world view”

  • “The customs and ways of a particular people or group”

  • “A binding force which enables a group of people to identify themselves as us”

  • “The way we do things ‘round here”

  • “The way a group of people agree to be”

  • “The way we live”                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

In essence, culture is the set of beliefs, values, customs and patterns of behaviour common to a group of people ‑ this could be within your family, at work or within a whole country.

As service personnel, you should be aware that culture influences us and it influences all the people with whom we interact. In work situations, allowance should be made for cultural differences.

In hospitality, you will work with colleagues from a wide range of countries and you will need to understand their varying backgrounds and customs. Their approach to work is often steeped in cultural beliefs and influenced by their upbringing.

The rise in the popularity of Australia as a major tourist destination has increased the need for workers in the hospitality industry to adapt to a wide variety of customers from diverse backgrounds. To work in this industry, you deal with customers and colleagues from all parts of the world ,and you will encounter a wide range of ethnic backgrounds and beliefs.

In the workplace, it is necessary to be aware of and make allowances for differences in cultural obligations. People with strong religious beliefs may object to blasphemous innuendo, others may have specific dietary requirements or may not work certain shifts due to their religious customs (e.g. Seventh Day Adventists do not work on a Saturday because they observe this day as their Sabbath).

Special requirements for people with diverse needs have now been incorporated in many daily routines. Differences in dietary requirements, such as kosher food and vegetarian meals, are readily available throughout hospitality establishments, and allowances for religious ceremonies during work can be accommodated.

A key to success in the hospitality industry is to gain a greater understanding of the people who are guests, customers and workmates. In a variety of situations and circumstances, you will need to be culturally aware and be able to accommodate and make allowances for these differences.