What is Cross-Cultural Communication and how will it Improve your Speaking Skills?

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. And ensure your message gets across diverse cultures. Let us understand what is cross-cultural communication and how will it improve your speaking skills.

What is Cross-Cultural Communication?

Before we go to cross-cultural communication (CCC), let us understand what communication is. Simply put, communication is social interaction through messages. It is the sharing of meaning through information, ideas, and feelings. What about culture? Culture is a way of thinking and acting that is related to people speaking a common language. But this may not always the case. These are traditions, family roles, expectations, attitudes, and non-verbal communication. It is referred to as an attempt to exchange, negotiate and mediate cultural differences using language, gestures, and body language.

We can now define CCC as the communication between people who have differences in any of the following:

  • styles of working,
  • age,
  • nationality,
  • ethnicity,
  • race,gender,
  • sexual orientation, etc.

Imagine, two people of different cultures encounter each other. They may not only have different cultural backgrounds but their systems of talking in turn. Talking is different. For example, the English language is the world’s lingua franca. However, we have different variations such as American English, Australian English, and British English. Each has its own set of words that can be only understood by the people from their respective cultures.

Challenges in Speaking English for Non-Native Speakers

English is the largest language in the world if you count both native and non-native speakers. Mandarin Chinese is the largest in terms of native speakers. The majority of non-native English speakers spent years studying the language but still face the difficulty of speaking English. The problem was, school curriculum solely focused on grammar rules, reading, writing, and listening. But the art of speaking is often neglected. Because schools do not have an avenue for the students to practice speaking. Teaching grammar alone does not automatically mean students will improve their speaking skills. Verbal communication takes continuous practice. Another problem is that teachers have very few training resources for teaching effective speaking skills. Speaking English alone is already difficult as it is, cross-cultural communication is another skill to master.

How Cross-Cultural Communication Will Improve your Speaking Skills?

By knowing the difference in how people from different groups communicate will help you deliver your message across. It avoids misunderstanding, especially in the workplace. Knowing the vocabulary is not enough to develop this competency. Cross-cultural communication is an emerging field in communication. Gestures and non-verbal communication are also important aspects to develop. What to say to a person coming from a different cultural background without offending them. Or what is the topics that are acceptable in a networking event is another. Silence has different perceptions across cultures. It may seem overwhelming, but you can start developing at your own pace by keeping an open mind. Do not compare your own set of values to others and respect that they have their own. Mutual respect is the number one trait you need to have when developing this skill.

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Len Peralta

About the Author

Len Peralta is the creator of LCM Digital Training. Her expertise focuses on cross-cultural communication. Follow her on Twitter @peralta_len