Do You Really Understand Communicating Across Cultures?

It has been observed that serious attempts at sharing knowledge across cultures frequently often ends in frustration, disappointment and a sense of aggrievement on all sides. The problem is that people from different cultures have fundamentally different beliefs about the proper roles of bosses and subordinates, teachers and students, and even about the nature of knowledge itself.

Globalisation has made industries more competitive so it is vital for organisations to have the right cross-cultural understanding & international skill set. The failure rate of international joint ventures and mergers is staggering. And, there are enormous changes happening in the workplace where people of all different nationalities are thrown together. With the challenges of new markets, globally distributed remote teams and different communication styles across the globe, it is vital that business people take cultural diversity into account.

The International business today has become more complex than ever before. Success in all the industry domains is now considered in global terms. Working successfully with colleagues from distinct cultures is not an easy goal. For getting in contact, we have to establish a good communication level to effectively pass on our views. This can be only achieved in an environment having mutual respect, understanding and faith. A well planned & designed Cross-cultural training helps the people working in multi-culture environments to understand the fundamental values & beliefs of any culture. Besides, before understanding someone’s culture it is paramount to know & understand your own cultural background first.

Communicating successfully across cultures to multicultural audiences isn’t just about the linguistic differences, but rather about the attitudes that lie behind them, and the cultural values that give rise to those attitudes. Most importantly, it is about the true identification of how to adjust your mindset to ‘fit’ others. We need to examine the culturally-driven mind barriers we have created for our own self-entrapment that diminish our abilities to understand others.

We can understand this communication issue with an example: A company wants to tap into the success of the Coffee shop franchise and make its chain of small coffee shops more “upmarket”. The CEO sends a memo to the local franchisees around the world- bring in some class to your operations. In New York the coffee shop brings in Styrofoam cups with lids on, and speeds up the service time. In Germany, they bring in recyclable cups. In Italy, the franchisees invest in bone china, expensive furnishings and artwork. In Britain, they put the price up. Unsurprisingly the CEO is horrified out how his employees have completely missed his point!

Intercultural and Cross-cultural communication skills focus on ensuring that your meaning is the same as the meaning as perceived by those who hear your message. We have to remove our assumptions of comprehension and become more explicit. Testing and retesting comprehension (obviously in a culturally sensitive manner – no one likes being patronised!). Learning how to transfer a message across cultures is one of the most important skills an international manager can have!

The current global economic climate requires a higher level of intercultural communication, cross-cultural understanding and people management than ever before. Each marketplace has its own parameters for how business people in it like to be communicated with. It is a vital pre-requisite for business people to now ‘do business’ with a greater knowledge, understanding and respect for cultural diversity.To know about how cross-cultural communication effects the working on an organization and how this problem of cross cultural conflict can be overcome visit¬†

Deborah Swallow provides consultancy for understanding cultural diversity, intercultural communication, cross-cultural conflicts, awareness for cultural differences for higher level of people management in current global economic climate.