The art of communication has changed as globalization has set contrasting organizations cultures on a crash process. Although many organizations have tried to ease their operations by assimilating the business cultures of stronger economies, cultural diversity is still common and continues to impact on organizations. It includes language barrier that limits employee interaction and employee fallout. Other forms also reveal the art of communication rather than what is spoken. Touching, personal space, requests, friendly exchange, status, and body language are among the form of communication that varies in the different culture, and hence affect how people communicate in the working place. Corporate managers and small enterprise owners can benefit from gaining a proper understanding of how cultural diversity affects their operations. Organizations must take the challenge and prevent the negativities associated by the current cultural diversity prevalent in many organizations.
How Cultural Diversity Affects Communication in an Organization
Cultural diversity is on the increase across the globe as the globalization trend continues to enter into organizations. It has left the workplaces with unsolved challenges that continue to affect the operations in an organization. Cultural diversity is defined as, “the representation, in one social system, of people with distinctly different group affiliations of cultural significance”. There is no clear manner to deal with the drawbacks associated with cultural diversities, despite the fact that culture greatly influences the performance of organizations. The diversities in workplace include beliefs, gender, race, education, people’s backgrounds, and economic status. The differences in the diversities make an individual unique from others. The employers and their employees should always be willing to learn on the best ways to cope with the different cultures amongst themselves. Quick response to the diversities will contribute positively to the organizations and the performance will increase. This paper shall discuss on how cultural diversity affects communication in organizations and highlights the best ways to cope with the situations.Communication styles adapt
Many organizations have different people making it more diverse. The situation requires the employers and their workforce to adopt to the new communication skills. Cultural practices are affected by race, sex, and religion and this interferes with communication in an organization. In august 2009, the "Diversity Inc.." reported that Islamic religion has been on the rise in the recent times. The Islamic calendar contains the Ramadan festivals, which is considered their holiest month. During Ramadan, employers are expected to adjust the regular schedules so that the Muslims can get their meals at the right time and pray in line with the Quran. Contrary to this, the employees feel embarrassed and their productivity in the workplace decreases.Corporate culture changes
Many foreign workers experiences problems in communication especially when they cannot speak fluent English. The inability to communicate properly interferes with the way information is presented in an organization. People from different cultures are not willing to interact with other employees because of their poor attitude and unwillingness to learn from others. The situation in corporate culture changes can be solved by training and seminars in the organizations for people to learn how they can do away with their differences and work towards the goals and objectives of the organization.Fallout is costly
The top management should put cultural needs of their employees into consideration. Failure to that can result to costly legal implications that will not serve any good to the organization. In 2000, the Coca-Cola Company compensated its workers with $192 million intended to settle discrimination claims. This clearly explains the importance of the managers to consider the cultural needs of their entire workforce to avoid legal consequences.
In several cultures, it is common for individuals to be more hostile or firm when giving directions or sharing ideas. They do this loudly and ignore the fact that not all persons in the group originate from the same environment hence do not understand the language in context. It is, therefore, significant that an individual understands the languages that the associates understand to avoid provoking their emotions or misunderstanding. The ability to put a message across to the audience is important than displaying a mastery of complex languages.
When connecting with persons from diverse cultures, talking in a neutral tone, and being respectful of others’ contribution even though they might be making their input in a way that you are not comfortable with is very crucial. Additionally, organizations link with other organizations in different parts of the world where a different culture is acceptable altogether. “Since language barriers exist, organizations must learn how relate with each other despite the variation in the language of information”. Organizations should strive to use dialects that are tolerable and comprehensible by all parties involved. Stereotypes must be avoided as they contribute to more complexities and failures in organizations.
Custom creates variation when handling customers
When doing business with associates from other cultures, it is important to consider the cultural differences that might be prevalent. It includes gestures, basic mannerisms, and customs. Realization of such differences is critical, as it will affect how the customers are handled. It will also determine the overall achievement of the organization. For example, when a sales manager addresses a conference with prior acquaintance of the customers’ social upbringing they can adapt their actions, words, and body language to suit the customers need. This increases the likelihood of the manager enticing the customers and sealing a good deal.
Requests are among the language issues practiced differently across diverse cultures and, as a result, creates problem in an organization. Different cultures have their own ways of making request, and in some cases, this request appears to be more of an order in other cultures. For example, when Frenchman wants to request something to be done, they use expression such as “il faut” implying “this must be done.” An Englishman would consequently interpret this to be an order rather than a request. In this scenario, an Englishman would make a request in this form, “could you, please do this for me.” As a result, the variation in the ways of making request would cause dispute and friction in the working area therefore affecting the entire organization.
Various cultures vary in the way they make personal space and frequency of touching in the working place. For instance, when a person hangs back and refuses to clasp another person’s arm, or rather touch another person, this can communicate rejection to an individual from a demonstrative culture. On the other hand, a person who is not accustomed to some conducts such as kisses on both cheeks and touching could view this conducts inappropriate. Consequently, this misunderstanding of the body language can result to dissatisfaction in the organization.Status
Some cultures associates status with the job titles while other cultures convey status with the way people talk to the subordinates or the coworkers, other associate status with the seating order in the meeting. To honor the status, many cultures such as Americans use title for the superior, while other cultures do not. These titles include sir, Mr. Mrs., and Dr. among others. Failure to use these titles, it communicates disrespect and this can result to conflict between the seniors and the subordinates in an organization.
Some culture epitomes apply friendly exchanges in discussions to break the monotony or the barriers. For instance, some cultures use friendly terms such as “how was your day,” while they may not be interested with the detailed response. Other cultures view this as a sign of shallowness and insincerity. In this case, people form such culture engages in discussion with the people they have established good relationship with and they suggest genuine answers. This variation in communication is expected to cause hostility, discomfort, and barriers in the workplace, rather than creating an enabling environment.
As depicted above, cultural differences in organization cause conflicts, discomforts and other problems rather than solving them. Failure to understand the diverse art of communication in various cultures may negative affect the operation of any organization. Therefore, the seniors and the subordinate in the organization should learn how to integrate different cultural means of communication into one social unit. The success of the organization is thus based on the value placed on diversity training and staff diversity. Therefore, in the contemporary global environment, workers must be culturally competent to manage the organization communication between people from different cultures.
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