Cross-cultural communication is a must in today’s global workforce. Because of COVID-19, we are now in the era of remote working. And having this competency is an absolute must. In the workplace, getting your message is not only important but is critical to your success. Let us explore the importance of cross-cultural communication in the workplace.
What is Cross-Cultural Communication?
Cross-cultural communication is a skill. This is described as the ability to successfully form relationships with individuals of other cultures. The term is synonymous with intercultural communication. Although they may be used interchangeably, they are two different fields of study. Intercultural communication tries to understand how people from different cultures behave, interact, and perceive the world around them. Cross-cultural communication is a process of exchange of information from people coming from different cultural backgrounds. It is a skillful persuasion, masterful mediation, and the creation and the sharing of meaning through language and gestures.
Importance in the Workplace
Communication styles differ from culture to culture. And effective communication leads to strong business relationships in the workplace. It fosters effective collaboration and high performing team.
For example, Europeans particularly Germans, Swiss, and Americans tend to concentrate more on the assigned task and let relationship development take its own natural time. On the other hand, Asians, place more value in relationship building at the start of the project. And the problem arises when different cultures may view the latter being not interested in taking the project.
Cross-Cultural Communication is important in the workplace because:
1. You can express yourself with confidence.
By understanding cross-cultural communication, you can express yourself with confidence. Consequently, as you gain more understanding of you who are and your values, you will be more confident in asserting yourself to others. Moreover, you are more sensitive to how others will react to you. It will become more natural, and you will not be perceived as trying or worst, not being genuine.
2. You can adapt your approach to collaboration.
In any organization, it is essential for team collaboration. And if you are working with a global team, your communication style must adapt to your diverse team. Asians tend to rely mostly on non-verbal communication. These are facial expressions, gestures, and pauses. But comparing the communication style of North America, which is more on verbal communication style – literal and straightforward). Likewise, the dilemma for these two cultures is that Asian counterparts might perceive this as being rude and hostile. North American counterparts might perceive it as being timid and shy. Above all, by being culturally aware, you will be able to tone down your communication style. And adapt to your current audience.
3. Your attitude to conflict changes.
Becoming culturally aware enables you to have an open mind and be more flexible when it comes to conflict and conflict resolution. The majority of Asian countries are strictly a collective society. This means the needs and goals of a group are more important than the needs and desires of the individual. For instance, if you are from a collectivist society, you are not comfortable with conflict in the workplace. Your response to conflict is based on the good of the whole group. In an individualistic country like the USA or Australia, individual needs and desires play more importance. Meanwhile, people from an individualistic society often think about their own needs and wants. Therefore, by being culturally aware, again, you can adjust your conflict resolution strategy by simply your own cultural thinking.
Payal Mehra. (2014). Communication Beyond Boundaries: Vol. First edition. Business Expert Press.
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