Communication and cultural differences

Certificate III in HospitalityWorking in hospitality establishments, you must be aware that culture influences us and all the people with whom we contact. Culture can be seen as set of beliefs, values, and patterns of behaviour common to a group of people.

Australia is a multicultural society. Cultural difference can manifest in a wide variety of behaviour such as language (verbal and non-verbal) and social behaviours. Working with colleagues and customers from varying ethnic backgrounds requires an understanding of their cultures including religious, ethical and working beliefs, the way they dress, the type of food they eat, etc.  Patience, tolerance and understanding are important.

Relationships between colleagues, and between you and the customer can be affected by language difference:

  • For some colleagues and customers, English will be a second language that they may have very little familiarity

  • People who are new to the country or visiting from overseas may have strong accents, making it difficult for you to understand them or for them to understand you

  • People from other cultures may understand spoken English, yet have difficulty with written English

If you are unable to understand the spoken English of a colleague or customer, you might need to ask them to repeat themselves or draw diagrams and pictures to assist in the communication.

To assist with language barriers in the workplace, use clear signage for entrances, exits, safety requirements and facilities. Commonly used symbols will make it easier for people to comprehend directions and signage.

Take care with the use of both verbal and written communication to ensure it will not offend, including the use of slang, jargon, humour and acronyms.

Body language of colleagues and customer from cultures that is not your own will also vary – the amount of touching, forms of greeting, eating habits, belching, etc. Be aware of the fact that many people in the world are different from you and do things differently.

You will learn more about communication and cultural differences in your Certificate III in Hospitality.