The key to working in a diverse and multicultural office is diplomacy, says Angela Domasova Photo: Romain Gamba

The key to working in a diverse and multicultural office is diplomacy, says Angela Domasova Photo: Romain Gamba

Building professional relationships can be a challenge when people from different cultures meet, with empathy and some flexibility the keys to success.

With people from more than 170 different nationalities living and working in the grand duchy, a mix of cultures collides in offices every day. “There is no unique office culture in Luxembourg,” said Angela Domasova of the Luxembourg School of Contemporary Etiquette, which offers business etiquette and intercultural communications training. “Diversity is one of the images of this country.”

One of the keys to making diverse offices work is empathy, said Domasova. “You need to be more sensitive.” For example, while it is common in English-speaking countries to address someone by their first name in an email, even if you don’t know them, for French and German speakers this could be considered impolite. “You need to respect other people’s rules.”

However, many of these social queues are unspoken, and the etiquette expert said it’s up to employees to educate themselves about their new environment but also managers to set the tone. The pandemic has largely done away with kisses on cheeks, although handshakes are making a comeback. And while some co-workers may want to grab an afterwork drink or even invite colleagues to their house, others might want to keep more distance between their personal and professional lives. “Be diplomatic. Don’t push too hard or be impatient.”

When cultures collide, Domasova recommends connecting on a personal level. “When people start liking you, it doesn’t matter who you are. It doesn’t matter if you make mistakes. People will forgive you. So built your personal brand.”