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Communicating Across Cultures: 5 Strategies that Work

Today, we interact with a range of cultures every time. Cultural diversity is now routine in our workplaces. Also, technology and the need to expand opens your business’ doors to many people from different walks of life. 

Communication across cultures fosters better workplace relationships. It also allows maximum utilization of existing talents. There is a sea of culturally diverse talent in hand to use, but it goes to waste without successful cross-cultural communication. 

Check out these strategies for communicating across cultures that you can implement in your workplace.

The Need for Communicating Across Cultures

How do you penetrate abroad markets or optimize social media and websites? You must be able to communicate using the right words, signs, and also understand language variations. 

For example, an Iranian brand used the Persian word “Tiz” (meaning sharp) to describe its razor’s qualities. Soon, the company started exporting the razors to Qatar, only to learn the name is an Arabic slang meaning “Buttocks.” The razors received backlash from Arabs, sales dropped, and the Iranian seller called off marketing.

This is a prime example of a need for strategies that can enhance communication across cultures. Here are some strategies you can use to be able to succeed in today’s global economy.

Understand Cultural Diversity and Norms

Our schools, workplaces, and countries are made up of different ethnicity, cultures, and races. While we can learn from each other, we first need to understand our differences. Embracing our differences will further help us to dispel biases and negative stereotypes about each other.

For effective cultural communication across cultures, you should support cultural diversity. You can improve your understanding of cultures by interacting with other races and ethnicities. 

If people don’t understand your language, try to recognize that their lack of skill doesn’t reflect their knowledge levels. Do your best to teach them or learn what you can about their language.

There are also many times when you might meet people engaging in prejudice, bias, or insensitivity. In such instances, you can only intervene appropriately and share your neutral views. Since you’ll probably face and communicate with people from different cultures, you should try to stay open to new ideas.

Build Mutual Acceptance

People don’t always think alike or do similar things. We are unique individuals, and cultural diversity is proof of our differences. So, anytime you group culturally diverse people, there is potential for conflict. 

Mutual acceptance is vital to iron out all the differences. It would help if you were firm on the habits that damage teamwork, hurt team members, upset, or are hostile. Mutual acceptance also involves respect for religious beliefs, cultures, views, and preferences. 

Embrace Active Listening

Active listening has been the most efficient way an individual can improve communication skills. Active listening is engaging and doing your best to understand the message. It is getting interested in what other people say and making everyone feel valued.

While communicating across cultures, you will encounter many unfamiliar words and expressions. There’s possibilities for you to misinterpret some words and kill the intended message. A better way to communicate is to stay alert throughout the conversation and seek clarification for anything unclear.

Communication across cultures brings forth plenty of things that may be cultural shocks. You are likely to encounter accents, limited vocabulary, and misunderstood language nuances. The best thing for you is to acclimatize to different communication styles and cultures.

In a conversation, your words, tone, and speed can be a communication barrier. Do your best to adjust your tone and speed while using simpler words to enhance communication to compromise for the other party. Consider a class like Lingvist’s Spanish family vocabulary course to start learning a new language.

Effective Communication is Imperative for Communication Across Cultures

If you want to wipe out cultural barriers and improve the workplace and personal relations, practice effective communication. 

Effective communication aims to integrate openness and transparency. It is about understanding the intentions and emotions behind a message. With it, you can send the exact message and reduce conflicts and misunderstandings. 

Tips for Effective Communication

Whenever you sense difficulty in a conversation, you should respond with words that don’t worsen the situation. For example, you can seek clarification via email when you want to agree or reject a proposal. The email can improve your understanding and provide you with a better responding platform. 

When you have concerns about someone’s idea, you should point out the merits and flaws. Be as specific as possible to prevent misinterpretation or conflicts. You can also offer suggestions that can cut all defects.

After offering suggestions, create room for more engagement. For example, you can seek an opinion or feedback on the ideas. Focus on avoiding dominating conversations.

Clarity is Key for Communication Across Cultures

Usually, for a person to understand you correctly, there must be a lot of common ground. This limits the effectiveness of communication across cultures for it involves two people with distinct languages. 

A lot of factors impede effective cross-cultural communication. Misinterpretation of gestures, language and non-verbal behaviors are typical suspects. Behind these factors, more subcategories limit communication. 

Embracing clarity in communication helps to overcome many of these challenges. Meaning you must understand different cultures to achieve clarity. The more your understanding of another culture, the clearer the communication.

Going forward, every member of your organization should learn at least one fact of their colleague’s culture. It would be best if you also enhance your awareness of traditional festivals and discuss cultural issues to improve understanding.

Optimize Your Office for Diversity

Finding success in communicating across cultures relies on mutual acceptance and understanding of cultural diversity. You can train to be an active listener or effective communicator, but you must understand, accept, and respect other people’s views.

For more tips on cultural affairs, check out the news section of our blog.

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