“Personal effectiveness is the core of our business.”
- Sheila Viesca, TalkShop

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Cross Cultural Communication Issues

Proficiency in  English, the global language, is not a guarantee that a foreigner will be able to easily adopt to another culture, even one that is well-versed in English.  Add to this the pressure of addressing differences in world views and acceptance of varying points of references. Not only do words and expressions vary among cultures, there is also the consideration of tonality and gestures that can make one interpret expressions differently.  Foreigners have to consider many things beyond the language to avoid potential conflicts resulting from misunderstanding. Slight mistakes from lack of awareness and sensibility can be costly.

TalkShop, the leading consultancy in language and culture training handles cross cultural training programs for different nationals who are taught to avoid conflicts by giving attention to 3 factors in the new culture:


General understanding of any particular culture must be learned before a foreigner can immerse and thrive in his new assignment.  Naturally, you'd have to know how the locals define basic values and regard particular social issues.  How do they see their government?  What is the role of family or friends in their decisions?  How do they spend their free time?  What work ethics are strongly valued?  Which topics make them smile?  Which topics should be avoided or laughed about?  How do locals see themselves?  How do they regard other locals? What is their  view of foreigners? A culture's general understanding is shaped by many factors.  It is best to know them at the onset to foster consistently positive relations among the locals.

Behavioral tendencies must be mastered through reading, observation, and most importantly interaction with the locals.  Knowledge of the locals'  social and private behaviors can ensure a foreigner's success and comfortable residence in a new country. Behavior is more evident in the unconscious gestures than in practiced or careful expressions.  A foreigner must be observant of the way locals react towards certain situations and individuals.  How do they look at something they like or despise?  When are they naturally accommodating?  How can you tell when they are offended?  How do they show connection to another?  Do they show abhorrence and distrust overtly? What do they find polite?  How do they react when disrespected?  Do they smile for no reason at all?  Do you know when they are pleased with you even without saying a word?  Knowledge of these matters will allow a foreigner to blend in faster because he can adjust his own behavioral tendencies to gain the trust and acceptance of the locals.

Emotional issues take some time to understand.  A culture will usually not discuss emotional issues openly because the locals themselves may not be fully aware or accepting of their distinct emotions relating to different situations, topics, and concerns.  How do they show or conceal their fear, anger, frustration, excitement, disinterest? How do they discuss certain issues?  How much of their emotional tendencies do they know and talk about? What emotions lead to a lesser or greater sense of self?  Which emotions result in motivation or demotivation?

When all 3 factors are given attention, misunderstanding can be minimized and a foreigner can be happier and more successful in a new culture.  Lack of effort in knowing them will cause much problems in the long run.  Problems can be as mild as minor arguments or as grave as a criminal lawsuit.  A foreigner who does not take heed can become so unhappy and lost in a new culture where he could otherwise realize endless potentials.  Awareness of new realities and appreciation of the good will bring much success to a foreigner in a new culture.       www.talkshop.ph    (632) 894 5588

1 comment:

  1. Given different cultural contexts, this brings new communication challenges to the workplace. Even when employees located in different locations or offices speak the same language (for instance, correspondences between English-speakers in the U.S. and English-speakers in the UK), there are some cultural differences that should be considered in an effort to optimize communications between the two parties.In such cases, an effective communication strategy begins with the understanding that the sender of the message and the receiver of the message are from different cultures and backgrounds. Of course, this introduces a certain amount of uncertainty, making communications even more complex.