How Does Cross Cultural Business Communication Affect your Virtual Team?
Every virtual team engages in cross cultural business communication, not just global teams. While communicating with colleagues of diverse backgrounds affords you an opportunity to expand beyond your immediate comfort zone, it also creates several challenges. Yael Zofi has dedicated a full chapter of her book on Virtual Teams Management to Cross Cultural Business Communication in Virtual Teams. In addition, she previously addressed this topic in her book “Communicating Through a Global Lens” as well as in numerous articles. Please click here to read her latest article, Importance of Cross-Cultural Communication & Overcoming Intercultural Disconnect in Your Virtual Team.
If you would like to access further resources on managing and communicating in cross cultural teams, visit our Newsroom for Yael’s articles and podcasts on this subject.
This week, Yael shares tips for effective cross cultural business communication. Enjoy watching it and reading the supporting material.
In Chapter 7 of “A Manager’s Guide to Virtual Teams” Yael shares examples of cultural characteristics, numerous case studies on situations that commonly occur and real-life scenarios on intercultural ‘disconnects’ in the virtual world. You’ll find specific cross cultural solutions to improve communication within your virtual team, along with examples of how to manage cultural differences.
To help virtual managers gain a greater understanding of the complexities of cross cultural business communication, Yael presents an easy to understand explanation of clusters that comprise all cross cultural interaction. Regardless how a team is organized, themes emerge around how members interact. That is, within every culture certain factors consistently appear when people work together, which Yael Zofi has grouped into five clusters. Feedback from readers has been overwhelmingly positive about her practical approach to understanding this important subject. If you would like to read a helpful guide to working with these five major clusters to improve relationships in virtual teams, please look into this chapter.
Next week’s post will include our last cliff note; we’ll explore the new role for the future leader in the virtual workplace and key dimensions or traits that will define future global leadership.
“Cross cultural interactions are quite interesting, even if your team is not a global team; chances are it is a cross cultural one. I feel so strongly about this topic that I actually dedicated a separate chapter to it, because all the other elements of Virtual Teams are important and cross cultural is a whole other layer that overlays everything.
What’s interesting is from my work with Virtual Teams and our Virtual Teams study on cross cultural interaction, even if we all use the same language, which in the business world English is the common language, it could get lost in translation. In fact almost 50%, we had 47% of survey’s respondents said that English got misunderstood. So we could both be saying the same word like “Yes”, or “It is ok” or “No”, or any common words in the English language and it’s still misunderstood and I have countless stories from clients and customers and teams where words were misunderstood. So what you want to do in the cross cultural space is make sure, and you mention strategies, that you want to LEARN:
L: Listen to what the person is saying and if it’s confusing make sure you ask.
E: Effectively Communicate. Try to be as clear as you can when you communicate, especially across cultures. Don’t use jargon. Keep it simple, simple sentences, this is not composition or poetry, this is simple and straightforward.
A: Avoid Ambiguity. If something is unclear or ambiguous, take a moment or two to explain it or make sure that it’s a little bit clear. So don’t assume.
R: Respecting Differences. It’s ok. Somebody could be a morning person, somebody can be a night person, somebody can be different than you, it’s ok, we’re all different that’s what gets interesting about working together.
N: No Judgment. So don’t jump into a conclusion. If somebody doesn’t respond and it’s tough because as human beings our first reaction is oh, they don’t care about this project. Well it could be that the person is away or is attending to something else. So, try to give people the benefit of the doubt and assume there’s positive intent and so LEARN the culture that you’re working with, LEARN the culture of the team members.”