Practice Active Communication in the Virtual Environment– LEARN Strategy #4: R= Respect Cross Cultural Differences

To LEARN how to effectively communicate despite cross cultural differences and enable the R of L E A R N., we must first practice using Active Communication to help respect cross cultural differences.cross cultural differences

Five Steps to Managing Cross Cultural Differences

Look at these situations, some of which you may have experienced firsthand and some of which you may have heard from a colleague. The proposed cross cultural solutions are taken from various client sessions where we brainstormed how best to respond to these cross cultural etiquette and manners that are stated below.

SITUATION: APPROPRIATE ACTION STEPS:
If you don’t have enough information to respond to a disagreement through feedback or alternatives. 1. Ask for clarification to get a better understanding of the other person’s needs or concerns.  (“I’m not sure how you propose to get this done in six weeks.  Could you walk me through your plan?”)
When you understand someone’s needs and concerns, and are willing to consider alternatives. 2. Suggest and/or ask for alterna­tives. This may lead to the opportunity for clarification and confirmation, balanced feedback or building. (“I’m willing to look at other suppliers for – – – that are within our cost guidelines, but what will you do to ensure quality control?”)
If you’re still uncertain about what someone wants, and you want to continue the discussion. 3. State what’s important to you, and check what’s important to the other person. (“What matters to me is getting clean images quickly at a reasonable cost.  If I understand you correctly, you can guarantee the quality of the images but the cost is prohibitive.”)
It youre still unable to identify alternatives and want to probe further. 4. Temporarily remove restrictions. This may lead to the opportunity for clarification and confirmation, balanced building, or additional alternatives.  (“If there weren’t any restrictions, Brenda, what would you like to do?”)
When you clearly understand someones needs and concerns and have spent sufficient time trying to identify alternatives. 5. End discussion (by acknowl­edging that person’s right to his/her views and feelings), and state your decision. (“Raj, I understand why you want Marketing to promote this new application, but it will come back to haunt us if we can’t deliver it.  I can’t go along with what you are proposing to top management.”)

For more information on managing  cross cultural differences and specific cross cultural solutions, check out the 2nd Edition of my Communicating Through a Global Lens booklet.

Until next time, Yael Zofi

Posted in Intercultural Business Communication