Communication plays a central role in any relationship whether personal or professional and effective communication strategies become more so important in a culturally diverse setup. Every culture is unique and people from different cultural backgrounds bring their own belief systems, work ethics, attitudes, values and biases to the workplace. An effective communication strategy would ensure that all these conflicting ideas and value systems are merged for the good of the employees as well as the company. Effective communication strategy in a culturally diverse group becomes more so important in an era of globalization and integration where interacting with different cultural groups has become the norm.
Effective Communication Strategies for Culturally Diverse People
Communication-the act and art of exchanging information in order to be understood and to convey thoughts is paramount to any successful relationship, be it personal or professional. Although people communicate by different means every day and it becomes an almost natural thing to do, there is a difference between communication and effective communication. Effective communication happens when the sender and the receiver are in agreement about the message that had been conveyed i.e the receiver acknowledges that the information is received and the sender is convinced that the message had been passed on accurately. Apart from the sender and the receiver there is also the medium of communication that plays an important role in effective communication. Communication and effective communication come into play and are important in these days of Globalization, transnational workforce, extensive travel and migration of large number of people across international borders. In such a scenario where there is a large number of people from different cultural, linguistic and socio-economic backgrounds, effective communication strategies are paramount in ensuring that workplaces, government agencies and even interpersonal relationships run smoothly.
Although effective communication is needed everywhere and would make processes much simple, it is not the case in everyday life. Problems, big and small arise when people do not communicate effectively. Effective communication involves both verbal and nonverbal components. The body language and gestures used during communication says as much as the words spoken. Effective communication strategies are important especially in a corporate setting or a business environment. “In high-context cultures, such as Japan, meaning is conveyed through body language, pauses and re-phrasing words whereas in a high-context culture of the United States, meaning is conveyed mainly through spoken words (Chaney & Martin, 2011).” In any conversation or negotiation, the non verbal communication plays as important a role as the verbal communication and can even dictate the result of the encounter. In many cultural settings clothes play an important role in communicating the level of respect that is shown to another person. In formulating an effective communication strategy it becomes important to not only choose the right words to say but also pay attention to what is not being said. When meeting a person from a different culture or even speaking to them on the phone it is necessary to know how to begin a conversation and the appropriate greetings to begin a conversation with. A pat on the shoulder would be acceptable behavior in some countries for a job well done while it can cross lines in other cultural settings. A good strategy would involve a checklist of acceptable and unacceptable behaviors in different cultures. Communication involves not only letting the other person know the pertinent information but also letting them know that their thoughts, time and position on an issue is respected.
“As businesses globalize, there continues to be a compelling need for cross-cultural awareness, knowledge of business etiquette, culture-specific management styles, and intercultural exchanges, because managers will find themselves faced with multiple challenges emanating from domestic cultural issues and traditional systems (Cook & Cook, 2011).” In a corporate setting effective communication strategies are important at all levels. Employees need to communicate with their colleagues, the flow of instructions need to be maintained and rules need to be followed so work does not get interrupted. When it is a transnational set up, dealing with colleagues from around the world or from different parts of the same country becomes a routine for everyone involved. Cross cultural interactions then happen on a daily basis and every one needs to know how to deal with the cultural differences. An effective strategy would begin with the employers or managers sending out clear information about the local customs or the cultural difference the employees might encounter in the office and outside of it. it could involve written communication or sessions with professionals who can conduct sessions on appropriate language, behavior, dressing and other such matters while dealing with people from a different cultural background. Effective communication, proper etiquette and learning the nuances of navigating through cultural differences is important for any professional or a business hoping to appeal to diverse audience or planning to set up shop in a different country. Some behavioral requirements when it comes to communication are formal and are articulated while some have to be learnt over time or be understood after observation. Managers or officials who are in charge of a diverse group have to understand this when formulating strategies for working with a culturally diverse population.
Managing cultural diversity in an organization goes a long way in increasing its effectiveness in the business world. Effective strategies begin with being aware of the cultural differences in the workplace and identify any inherent bias and attitudes that might affect normal interaction with everyone. This awareness should be made implicit in the whole workforce and should not only be seen as something that needs to be gotten over with. Inherent cultural differences have a tendency to fester and come out in in damaging proportions in a competitive world and hence an effective communication strategy would involve letting everyone know that they are equal in the workplace. Also cultural differences play an important role in how praise is received in different regions. Asian employees tend to work in a cooperative setting more than their western counterparts and hence individual communication of their excellence would not be taken in a good light (Lussier, 2005). Culturally different population is found not only in a corporate and international business setting but also in schools and other government institutions. A country handling a large immigration population would do well to have its officials trained in cultural sensitivity. Cultural inclusiveness and acceptance will go a long way in a country being tolerant and successful. Just like in a corporate setting where inclusiveness would breed cooperation, cultural inclusivity in other areas would also serve to increase peace and productivity. Effective communication goes a long way in sensitizing people to differences and be tolerant of it.
Effective communication is important in any setting in everyday life be it professional or personal. An effective communication strategy entail letting everyone involved know about the differences and how it is important that it is accepted and understood. An effective communication strategy would go a long way in making processes smoother in any setting and is something teachers, managers , employers, students, parents and others should be aware of and actively pursue.
Chaney, L. H., & Martin, J. S. (2011). Intercultural business communication (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.
Cook, R. A., & Cook, G. O. (2004). Guide to business etiquette (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall publishing.
Lussier, R. N. (2005). Human relations in organization. New York, NY: McGrawHill Irwin