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Cross-Cultural Communications

Essay by   •  January 8, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  2,657 Words (11 Pages)  •  1,783 Views

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Brief Introduction

There is a common notion worldwide among business people that business is business wherever they are. But it would be more right to say that business is different wherever they are. In todayÐŽ¦s world global competition is too great; hence people or managers should learn about the specific cultural differences in which ever country they do business. A fundamental part of any global managerÐŽ¦s reality is the intercultural nature of his or her interactions. Interactions with people from various cultures pose an even bigger probability for misrepresentation or confusion . It is very important to understand the mindset of the overseas people and company.

In today's international environment corporations and organizations work across borders, both national borders and ethnic, religious, organizational, functional borders. As a result international managers constantly face a variety of "cultural challenges".

Cross-Cultural Communications

Cross-cultural communication looks at how people from the different parts of the globe and cultural backgrounds communicate with each other. The main idea behind training the staff is to enable effective communication between people across cultures and also to produce some guidelines with which the staff can better communicate with each other. Cross-culture communication is a combination of many fields which include anthropology, cultural studies, psychology and communication. It is also frequently referred to as ÐŽ§Intercultural Communication . These fields should be specifically applied to managerial communication and hence make managers more efficient and skilled which will help them to succeed in todayÐŽ¦s global environment.

The main theories of Management Gurus like Hall and Hall, Geert Hofstede and Fons Trompenaars plays very important roles in cross-culture communications as they are rooted on the effort made looking at the differences among cultures. These theories have been applied to an assortment of different communication theories and settings, most notably general business and management. According to Hall and Hall, Culture itself is a communication and is a silent language .Hall and Hall has divided culture into two main parts which are known as High Context and Low Context cultures. The importance given to communication and its types varies in the different contexts. Low context cultures give primary importance to verbal communication and rely on them to convey meaning. Care is given to the words used. The communication is specific and precise. Only secondary importance is given to non-verbal communication.

When it comes to time, low context cultures are monochromic and time is money for people of this culture. Hence they make sure that they finish their projects within a specific time and keep up with their appointments. People of this culture require more personal space and do not rely on verbal contracts and promises. They focus on what is said and written. Decisions focus on what needs to be done. Verbal communication consists of direct language, facts, data and more specific and straight to the point.

On the other hand in high context cultures, primary importance is given to non-verbal communication. There are many explanations and interpretations for the words used. Body language plays a very important role. Verbal communication consists of less explicit and indirect language, the people of this culture rely more on body language, the setting, norms and relationships. Emphasis is put on relationships which are based on trust. Importance is given to cultural norms and culture. Decisions focus around face to face relationships and what is unsaid carries much weight. When it comes to time, high context cultures are polychronic and there is a greater flexibility for time. Projects are finished when itÐŽ¦s finished. People of this culture require less personal space and their word is based on their trust and relationship

For example: US is a low context culture country where the society is more individualistic by nature and there are strong attitudes of independence. People from this culture are very comfortable working in an introvert type of environment and very self-reliant. They are very specific in nature and like to proceed straight to the matter without wasting time. US gives importance to verbal communication and would like everything to be specific and in writing.

On the other hand UAE is a high context culture. They would like to get informal with each other and build relationships before proceeding straightaway to the matter. The society is more collectivist and hospitable by nature.

It is very important to understand cross-culture communication in an overseas environment. Hence it is very vital to train staff according to the different context cultures. When training staff for verbal communication, the trainer should make sure that the staff uses the appropriate directness when communicating with people from other culture, apply the appropriate type of context, etc. When taking non-verbal communication into account the appropriate amount of personal space should be identified, the right body language, the right tone of voice, eye contact, etc

Most importantly, staff should be trained to have positive attitude, tolerance for ambiguity, other cultures, religion, etc. They should be flexible, adaptable, patient, respectful, humor, have empathy and be active listeners .

When sending staff overseas, it should be made sure that they will be able to communicate effectively in the cross-culture environment. Hence in order to be effective in any culture, I will mention the following steps that should be taken into account. For this I have referred to an article by Mary Hunter, who is an author of online publications in which she has written on Cross-culture communication .

1. Setting Communication Objectives.

According to the author, it is important to first set realistic and practical objectives. Managers need to specifically know what they want to attain from the communication. Goals differ from culture to culture and so is their realism. The beliefs also differ from culture to culture as people from low context culture may believe in internal control that is people themselves are responsible for the situation they are in. They do not believe in destiny. While on the other hand, high context people believe in external control that is situations are always unpredictable



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