Cross Cultural Communication: 5 Tips to Really Make It Work

Communication is a critical aspect of conducting business. This is because it allows different parties to understand each other. The diverse workforce in the modern enterprise demands that communication caters to wildly varying cultures. It is why cross cultural communication is essential for companies. Technological advances have opened up a new world for entrepreneurs. It has become less challenging to do business globally.

Now, you have companies recruiting people from all over the world. When these professionals meet in one setting, they should be able to interact with each other in a productive fashion. Undoubtedly, this brings certain issues to the workplace. A corporate culture that doesn’t take cross cultural communication into account is destined for failure. Every company must invest in developing a work environment where people from different backgrounds can express themselves.

cross cultural communication

What Is Cross Cultural Communication?

Cross cultural communication is not just about the language that different people speak. But it also includes their norms, non-verbal expressions, and beliefs. Many other variables affect how people from diverse regions communicate. Even individuals who speak the same language may have different ways of expressing themselves. For example, the way an Australian speaks and writes English is not the same way an American counterpart will, although it is the same language. Even when you have foreign workers in your enterprise who know the local language, you still have to ensure that they are able to communicate without any misunderstandings.

People from varying cultures act differently, and that influences their interactions. Cultures will also affect how individuals make their decisions. For instance, people from Asia concentrate more on building trust with businesses associates while others are more about the facts. Companies offer training in cross cultural communication to make it less complicated for colleagues to understand each other. The scope of your cross cultural communication strategy will depend on the type of employees you have and the work environment you intend to create.

Who Uses Cross Cultural Communication

Every company that has employees from different cultural backgrounds should work on its cross cultural communication. A majority of the conflicts at the workplace are due to miscommunication and misunderstandings. When individuals cannot express themselves clearly or when meanings are lost in translation, conflicts can arise and escalate rapidly.

Communication is the tool used to build trust. Therefore, when it’s lacking, forging relationships becomes challenging. Cross cultural communication is necessary for any entity that wants to improve its business. How your workers relate to each other determines their productivity. Team members have to be able to explain to one another what is happening at every stage of a project or they will never accomplish anything.

Cross cultural communication is not only useful within an enterprise but outside as well. When marketing to a broad audience, you have to take into account the different cultural beliefs and ideals that you will be targeting. A solid marketing campaign can fall short simply because your communication didn’t resonate with certain cultures.

5 Ways to Do Cross Cultural Communication Right

Knowing the role cross cultural communication plays in your organization and implementing an effective strategy are different things. Understand what affects these types of interactions so that you can encourage your employees to communicate correctly. How can you get the best from cross cultural communication?

1. Speak Slowly

One common misconception, especially with English is that everyone who speaks it can keep up. Although most of the people you encounter may communicate effectively in English, they may have learned it as a second language. When a native speaker talks at a fast speed, it may be hard for others to catch every word.

Try to modulate your speed to pace so that everyone can comfortably follow the conversation. However, be careful not to speak too slowly because it can be patronizing, particularly for foreign workers who know the language.

2. Practice Active Listening

Another way to get cross cultural communication right is to pay attention when the other party speaks. When communicating in a language you are not overly confident in, it is easy for some words to escape your grasp.

Sharpen your listening skills and make certain you catch every word in a sentence to avoid miscommunication. If necessary, repeat a sentence to ensure you heard it right instead of assuming and ending up with the wrong information.

3. Learn Communication Styles

You already know that people communicate differently, depending on where they come from, among other factors. Cultures are in two categories; low context and high context. Low context cultures tend to communicate directly with accurate and open facts about a subject.

Western Europe, North America, and Australia are the regions that fall into this class. High context cultures are more subtle in that information is usually hidden in the message. The Middle East, Africa, and Asia are considered high context cultures.

4. Non-Verbal Communication

Gestures are big parts of communication for individuals in various regions of the world. A businessperson from the U.S. won’t have a problem laying out points with his or her pen or using hands for emphasis. Other cultures, mainly Asia (China, India, Japan) gestures have very precise meanings. Some hand movements are even considered rude.

Nodding of the head has very different meanings in places like India and Japan. In Asia and the Middle East, maintaining eye contact for too long is rude. When dealing with people from other cultures, learn about the various gestures and nonverbal cues that are used during interactions.

5. Beware of Cultural Assumptions

When speaking to a person from a different cultural background, don’t make jokes or use idioms that are specific to your culture. Regardless of how famous a pop culture reference is, don’t assume that everyone knows about it. You can mislead the other party or leave him or her confused after a conversation.

You may be tempted to use humor when interacting with colleagues or business associates. But the context may be lost on them, so avoid it altogether.

multi ethnic group in office

To Hello

Dealing with individuals from different cultures is not easy, hence the need to have a cross cultural communication strategy in your enterprise. When your people know how to interact with one another, they can avoid common misunderstandings and foster strong relationships that will benefit the company.

Cross cultural communication also increases your chances of success when conducting business on an international level.

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