“In our shrinking world, the need to communicate through a global lens is vital for success.
Whether you interact with local or global colleagues, you are always operating in a cross cultural world.
And your biggest challenge on virtual teams is the cross cultural one, a whole other layer that is always lurking in the background.”
A Manager’s Guide to Virtual Teams
You reach across the globe every day to communicate with colleagues, clients and vendors. And as the pace of business quickens, communicating with and managing people from other cultures is fast becoming your number one requirement.
Take stock of where your cross cultural interactions need some extra support and learn how to handle various cross cultural communication components. Here are five effective steps that will make you a better cross-cultural communicator:
L – Listen: Active listening is the single most useful way to ensure you understand what someone means and it is the key to avoiding misinterpretation. Try these basic techniques: (1) stay present without thinking ahead; (2) paraphrase back to the speaker what s/he said; (3) suspend assumptions based on your own culture. Learn to get beyond the distractions that may interfere with properly hearing your speaker, such as accents, limited vocabulary, and lack of nuance or thorough understanding of a language.
E – Effectively communicate: It’s up to you how you do it, but choose words that keep communication lines open, and always look to give positive reinforcement during your interaction. AIM to keep the communication lines open and transparent so that when conflicts arise a resolution is found quickly.
A – Avoid Ambiguity: It makes sense that the more you know about another culture the less ambiguous it becomes. If you do your homework, you won’t be blindsided when someone behaves according to his/her own culture. The greater your knowledge about another culture, the less ambiguous it becomes.
R – Respect Differences: Attitude is everything! Why not learn at least one fact about every team member’s culture? People appreciate when you show interest. One easy tactic is to learn the words for ‘hello,’ ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ in a colleague’s native tongue.
N – No Judgment: The key here is to suspend judgment. After all, it’s possible that your cultural lens may distort reality, so take a deep breath before evaluating an Intercultural Disconnect situation. Look for those shades of gray, rather than seeing things as all black or white.
Learn how you can become a master cross-cultural communicator.