“When in Rome, do as the Romans do”.
The above line has got a tremendous impact on the present technical, business and professional arena.
In today’s global business and professional field, we are required to understand people who come from countries and cultures different from our own. There is no doubt that today’s workplace is rapidly becoming vast, as the business environment expands to include various geographic locations and numerous cultures. The difficulty lies in understanding how to communicate effectively with individuals who speak another language or who rely on different means to reach a common goal.
Cross Cultural Communication – The New Replica
The Internet and modern technology have opened up new marketplaces, and allow us to endorse our business to new geographic locations and cultures. Consequently, it intensifies the significance of cross cultural communication. The e-communication has made it as easy to work with someone in another country as it is to work with someone in the next town. For those of us who are native English-speakers, it is fortunate that English seems to be the language that people use if they want to reach the widest possible audience. In this new world, good cross cultural communication is a must.
Understanding Cultural Diversity: The key factor
Different cultural contexts bring new communication challenges to the workplace. When employees located in different places speak the same language, there are some cultural differences that should be considered in an effort to optimize communications between the two parties. In such cases, an effective communication strategy begins with the understanding that the sender and the receiver of the message are from different cultures and backgrounds. It is perhaps most important for people to realize that a basic understanding of cultural diversity is the key to effective cross cultural communications. We must all learn how to better communicate with individuals and groups whose first language, or language of choice, does not match our own.
Basic knowledge about other cultures and language is a must for all. This is necessary even for the basic level of understanding required to engage in appropriate greetings and physical contact, which can be a tricky area inter-culturally. While many companies now offer training in the different cultures where the company conducts business, it is important that employees communicating across cultures practice patience and work to increase their knowledge and understanding of these cultures.
Fine Tune your Cross Cultural Communication Skills:
- Speak clearly and ensure intelligibility: Even when English is the common language in a cross cultural situation, this does not mean you should speak fast. Slow down, speak clearly and ensure your pronunciation is intelligible.
- Avoid negative questions: Many cross cultural communication misunderstandings have been caused by the use of negative questions and answers. In English we answer ‘yes’ if the answer is affirmative and ‘no’ if it is negative. In other cultures, a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ may only be indicating whether the questioner is right or wrong.
- Watch the humour: In many cultures business is taken very seriously. Professionalism and protocol are constantly observed. Many cultures will not appreciate the use of humour and jokes in the business context. When using humour, think whether it will be understood and acceptable in the other culture or not.
- Maintain etiquette: Many cultures have certain etiquette when communicating. It is always a good idea to undertake some cross cultural awareness training or at least do some research on the target culture. Cross cultural communication is about dealing with people from other cultures in a way that minimises misunderstandings and maximises your potential to create strong cross cultural rapport.
- Opening and Closing: No matter where you are, some ways of commencing and concluding a conversation will be considered rude, even disrespectful. This area includes modes of address, salutations, levels of regard and what not.
- Use of silence: In certain forms of communication, silence communicates thoughtfulness and deference to the original speaker, yet at other times, silence may be experienced as a sign of hostility. In the West, twenty seconds of silence during a meeting is an extraordinarily long time, and people will feel uncomfortable with that. But the same customs around silence are not universal.
I would like to sum up by focusing the fact that in order to retain our professionalism and personality, we must keep on learning and understanding the other cultures so that we could adapt to any kind of situation and create a comfort zone for others and so could the others.
Cross Cultural Communication – The New Replica
The Internet and modern technology have opened up new marketplaces, and allow us to endorse our business to new geographic locations and cultures. Consequently, it intensifies the significance of cross cultural communication. The e-communication has made it as easy to work with someone in another country as it is to work with someone in the next town.