“Whether you interact with local or global colleagues, you are using cross cultural communication. And your biggest challenge on virtual teams is the cross cultural one, a whole other layer on top of the other virtual team elements, one that is always lurking in the background.” Yael Zofi
The global neighborhood is fast becoming a major factor in today’s economic environment, and so organizations must have people at all levels who can comfortably interact with cultures other than their own. In our shrinking world, as people from various backgrounds/cultures increasingly work together, the need to communicate through a global lens becomes vital. And yet, people are often reluctant to discuss cultural qualities/characteristics. I remind myself that organizations must adapt to this new age where colleagues from many rich cultures simultaneously compete and collaborate.
At this critical point in time winning or losing depends on how well their businesses function abroad as well as at home, and that entails molding successful practices to fit new cultures. In doing so, managers are finding that cultural differences in their virtual teams pose special problems that were not anticipated. The good news is that many have developed capabilities to overcome these difficulties that may impede achieving business goals.
Below I’ve summarized the 5 cross cultural solutions that will help you LEARN how to effectively communicate across cultures:
Also, the following tips can help you with cross cultural communication:
- Before taking action or letting emotions get the better of you, consider several different interpretations of the behavior/situation in question.
- Don’t assume that other people think/behave the way you do. ? Accept the possibility that whatever occurred could be an anomaly caused by any number of circumstances (e.g., someone having a bad day or dealing with personal issues).
- Be aware of your personal biases (increase your self-awareness).
- Treat people as individuals and not as generalized stereotypes. Refrain from seeing things at the extremes since there are many shades of gray.
- Remain positive. Don’t always assume the worst/negative outcome.
- Avoid making comments such as, “You don’t understand” or “What’s your problem?” since they may cause the other party to respond defensively.
- When communicating with others, use descriptive and non-evaluative language.
- Be mindful of terms people use to explain themselves and the world around them, as certain terms have different meanings across cultures.
For more information on cross cultural communication and specific cross cultural solutions, check the 2nd Edition of my Communicating Through a Global Lens booklet.
Regards, Yael Zofi