Communicating Across Cultures Essay

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Disucss about the Communicating across Cultures.

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Introduction

Any culture is a set of assumptions which influences the individual in shaping their perceptions of the entire world. Within the workplace, any activity is considered by various measures such as the time spend by the employees, how efficiently and effectively the work has been carried out, the individual job satisfaction and several others (Thill and Bov?e 2013). It can be indicated that, for carrying out all these measures, communication is the most significant tool or the activity, especially in the contemporary service based organizations. According to Atkinson (2017) in such a world full of team oriented organizations, for competing with the other contemporary organizations, any company requires to preserve the expertise, creativity of their existing employees through interpersonal communication. There have been considerable evidences of both the organizational effectiveness and individual success within the organizations which were closely related to the communicating capabilities of the employees. The results of recent surveys also support this claim saying that the communication capabilities help the individuals for attaining their preferred social outcomes. As stated by Valero-Garces (2014), within the small organizations, the management tends to control their employees and give them directions in a person oriented method while they adjust their orders and individual feedback proficiently for each of the employees. Therefore it can be said that, within the organization, the communication can also be described as ‘collective and interactive process of generating and interpreting messages’. It is essential to have effective workplace communication to coordinate the workplace activities along with for coordinating the fundamental activities within the organization as well. However, over the years, the communication within the workplace has been changed gradually. Initially there have been language barriers for the minority groups and the people who are not familiar with the mostly spoken language. However, over the years, the global organizations has started valuing diversity within their organization as it is all about identifying and managing the differences within the organization along with sharing each other’s expertise and skill and communicating. According to the study done by Alberts, Nakayama and Martin (2015), work place diversity always has both negative and positive impacts on the employee performance. Where the negative impacts can be the outcome of poor diversity management of the organization and affect the individual employee performance, the positive impacts can enhance the individual performance at the same time. In the recent times, the organizations need to adapt the cultural differences, therefore it has been a great concern for the marketing, general management and human resource departments as it can affect different sectors of any organization (Deresky 2017). This study focuses on such communications across cultures which mostly take place in the global organizations. This study also focuses on the cultural diversity and communication within the organization and their impacts on the organizational behavior. It also discusses the intercultural communications and the skills that are required for working abroad.

Diversity and Communication in Business

The cultural differences can not only influence the purchasing behavior of the customers, but it also influences the interpersonal communication amongst the employees. According to Kaur (2013), there are strong impacts of the cultural differences on the purchasing behavior of the customers. Therefore the companies have to adapt innovative marketing strategies for different customers. The researches have shown that the Scandinavian countries are most adapting than the biggest economies in Europe or any Mediterranean country in terms of technical goods (Boelens et al.2015). There have been several researches regarding this and it has been seen that the cultural variables have had huge impact on the information of products and search activities of the consumers. Therefore, in this era of globalization the organizations should remember such differences. In the European countries, it has been recognized that the business success mostly depend on the effectual communication and interactions amongst people. Also, the cultural similarity between the customer and the employee has been proved to have improved the effectual business, Studies have also indicated that the gender and race have affected the employee interactions in the service industry to a great extent (Alberts, Nakayama and Martin 2015). Other than that, within the domestic companies, diversity has been a great concern too. Since, over the years, more minority groups have joined the work force within the international and national work context, few similarities as well as differences have been observed. Therefore, there is a continuous requirement of emphasizing the domestic issues before the global ones due to two reasons. Firstly, due to the rising expenditure of expatriates and several localization strategies of the host countries, more domestic employees will be included in the organization I order to manage the cultural diversity. Secondly, expatriates mostly involve for a short term basis in contrast to the domestic workers. Therefore, in such situations, managing the domestic issues becomes more important than the globalized ones.


Other than that, there is another concern of detaining the individual abilities and motivating the organization for responding at every situation. In the earlier times, the main concern of the organization was to design the organizational structure in a way that can support the organizational strategies (Boelens et al.2015). The organization also considered that along with the change of the organizational structure will help to change the pre-perceived norms and beliefs which will eventually help the managers to reshape their activities. However, their perception of the managerial responsibilities was not accurate which led most of the organizations to fail in carrying out their pre-determined strategies.

Interpersonal communication is another essential factor in the contemporary work environment. As it is nearly impossible to find the degree of cultural difference amongst people and how it would act in different situations, the organizations should enhance their work by evaluating the interaction and transaction. There have been clear evidences from the researches that, the international companies should value the interpersonal communication in order to build a sense of trust with the immediate boss and the top management as well (Bowe, Martin and Mann 2014). The managers require developing the intercultural communication skill so that they can interact with the diverse employee population.

Figure 1: Factors increasing the significance of intercultural communication

Source: Deresky 2017

The above figure shows that there has been a continuous influence on the intercultural communication. In a diverse work force, there can be several issues where communication can be most tricky business. Having the experience of intercultural interaction can be difficult as well. Lee, McCauley and Draguns (2013) suggest that the cultural diversity can be detrimental or advantageous depending on the communication ability of the employees of the organization.

Work, Cultures and Organizational Behavior

Culture has always been credited of having a strong control in the economic prosperity of the society. As suggested by Ting?Toomey (2015), the cultural values also have a huge impact on the organizational procedures, structures and the managerial style of any organization. For instance, it can be said that if a culture has centralization, uncertainty, formalization as the dominant features, it will also reflect on the decision making methods of the authority, organizational structure and the distribution of the communication system. On the other hand, where the culture is decentralized, the organizational structure will be informal and it could be widely distributed within the open organizational climate (Goodwin 2013). There are many instances of cultural differences within the work place by using Hofstede’s values. For instance, if a country has the culture where higher Uncertainty Avoidance factor can be found, it will show a great increase in the centrality in work, especially amongst the young people. Other than that, the studies have also shown that the cultural diversity affects the commitment of the individual employees for their supervisor, team work and towards their organization (Steers, Nardon and Sanchez-Runde 2013). If the society has the higher tolerance of the ambiguity, the individuals tend to feel more committed towards their work relationships, while a higher power distance between the managers and the employees tend to convey the message that the employees should feel committed towards their organization.


Within the organization, the work roles are broadly affected by the cultural values of the employees. If there is a higher power distance, it may lead to the vertical hierarchies along with a narrow span of control. If there is higher avoidance of uncertainty, there are strict adherence to the formalities and the job descriptions. Individualism also affects the individual responsibilities, whereas the collectivism emphasizes the team responsibility. If there is a higher achievement orientation for prioritizing the completion of the job, the higher relationship orientation concerns the maintenance. There is always a direct link between the organizational norms and the cultures (Aponte and Koulouris 2017).

There have been several researches on the direct influences of the national cultures on the organizational cultures. However, there have been conflicting results regarding that. According to Teng et al. (2014) the organizational culture tends to differ according to the national cultures. However, on the other hand, the conventional values are more prevalent in the governmental organizations than within the business organizations. Moreover, the organizational cultures and cultural diversity both influence the communications within the workplace. Within the collectivist organizations, the diverse work force tends to communicate more online than face to face. However the non-diverse employees tend to communicate more face to face. From this instance, it can be indicated that the people are more comfortable in interacting with other employees face to face when there is no cultural difference, even though the online interactions have been proven to be less effective than the face to face interactions. It has also been indicated by Broesch and Bryant (2015) that if there are demographically different employees within an organization, they tend to find the conflict benefits. Within the individualist culture, all the employees tend to face the similar conflicts. However studies have also shown that within the collectivist culture, where the team goals are more emphasized than the individual goals, the people from diverse cultures tend to have the higher creative outputs (Molinsky 2013). It may also indicate that the creativity materializes from accessing the greater ideas and the trust on the employees for the benefit of the team. On the other hand, within the individualist culture, non-diverse work force is more productive along with the employees from the diverse background (Lee, McCauley and Draguns 2013). Thus, it can be concluded that diversity affects the communication and behavior within the organization to a great extent in different cultures.

Intercultural communication

Several researches have led to the understanding that most of the time face to face communicating is not perfect and it may end up as conflict and misunderstanding. While people are from different backgrounds, they can lead to different kinds of miscommunications as there are obstacles that act as barriers in the communication procedure. Within the contemporary work culture, there are workings and meetings with people from different social backgrounds, different cultures, age groups, socio economic classes and several others (Kelley 2016). In such encounters, individuals may interact with each other not only as other individuals but also as undifferentiated representatives of the social groups. For instance, person A can be considered as a ‘that white female from human resources’. Therefore, the chances of being over generalized or being stereotyped are higher in the intergroup communication within the organization. It can also lead the employees to shape their methods of transmitting messages and falsely assuming them while receiving such messages.

Figure 2: Factors of increasing the poor communication within intergroup encounter

Source: Chen 2017

The above figure indicates that how stereotype can influence the intergroup communications. These factors mostly give rise to few possibilities. Firstly, the stereotype can have a huge impact on the information being processed. Secondly, within the intergroup communications there are more variations, therefore more chances of being stereotyped (Carter et al. 2015). Thirdly, it creates self predictions which may again lead to the stereotyped communication. Along with that, negative stereotypical communications can also contribute in having prejudice. It may involve sexism, racism, ageism or homophobia. It may directly affect the work place environment through harassment and discrimination (Carter et al. 2015). The people who are prejudiced can misread and distort the communications with others. On the other hand, the employees who are well-aware of the people having prejudiced views, tend to have negative attitudes regarding others opinion.

Other than these, there can be other communication barriers within work place due to cultural diversity. The ethnic or national diversities can lead people to talk in different ways which may be very insulting for some of them. One of the most common language barriers is the lack of proficiency of the language (Aponte and Koulouris 2017). When a person is trying to transferring his or her mother tongue in a foreign language, there might be mistaking of a certain concept. Therefore, it could turn into a huge language barrier later. The national differences also create issues within the work place.

Skills for Working Abroad

Even if the cultural diversity affects the work place communication and the organizational behavior, the numbers of people who are taking the opportunity of handling the global assignments are increasing. For the managers and the other employees, several factors are responsible for getting such opportunity like growing competition in the global market, global acquisition and merger activities and many others (Valero-Garces 2014). In order to work within a cultural diverse organizational environment, the employees should have cultural orientation skills which help them to merge in such situations. While working on a global level, the employees may face different kinds of problems regarding the suitable self presentation or regarding mutual understanding (Carter et al. 2015). These difficulties could be very much stressful for the concerned employees. In such situations, the concerned organization should arrange for training and development programs which will help the expatriate employees to cope up with the situation.

Coping in other cultures may mean establishing interpersonal relations with other employees who are from the host country, communicate with them in an effective way and dealing with mental stress. However, this capability can be enhanced with the knowledge of the cultures of the host country. It can be achieved in different ways such as, reading articles or books, watching films or TV programs, talking to other people who have already worked in that country etc. Other than these, information can also be gained by sheer observation of the people from other cultures (Alberts, Nakayama and Martin 2015). Studying their language can also be a great way of understanding the language. However, this does not really mean learning their language; rather it can be done by trying to understand their languages as well. In addition to that, the suitable attitudes are also required for working in an effective way in a foreign country. One should always have adequate respect towards the host culture along with respecting the individuals from that culture. Mostly these attitudes can help the expatriate to gel in the new culture. At the same time, it is also significant to change the pre-perceived notions or the attitudes, mostly in the elementary areas. An employee who has been sent to the foreign country should also evaluate others behavior in a proper way, evaluating those communications in a premature way may lead to misunderstanding as well. According to Thill and Bov?e (2013), cross cultural understanding, cultural knowledge and intercultural behavioral expertise are major factors for the intercultural relations. Clearly, such dealing with the responsibilities in a foreign work environment requires proper training and development of the employees so that they can understand the approaches and deal with the difficult situations easily.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it can be said that, one should increase his or her understanding of the communication strategies of others through learning ore regarding their behavioral influences. There are several internal factors that are involved in such learning such as moral values, ethics, motives and many others. The expatriates should also perform their duties. Several researches in the past have indicated that organizational commitment or loyalty is a major concern in such situation. If there is any kind of cultural barriers within the work place, the employees should immediately contact their management. This study has evaluated all the necessary sectors of communicating across cultures. The study has examined the diversity in communication with the organizational environment and in business along with its impact on the organizational behavior. The study has also discussed the skills and expertise to cope up with the foreign cultures.

Reference list

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Aponte, M. and Koulouris, K., 2017, January. Communicating Authenticity across Cultures: Telling Personal Stories in Leadership Contexts. In Academy of Management Proceedings (Vol. 2017, No. 1, p. 13287). Academy of Management.

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Bowe, H., Martin, K. and Manns, H., 2014. Communication across cultures: Mutual understanding in a global world. Cambridge University Press.

Broesch, T.L. and Bryant, G.A., 2015. Prosody in infant-directed speech is similar across Western and traditional cultures. Journal of Cognition and Development, 16(1), pp.31-43.

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Kelley, A.H., 2016. Coaching Executives Across Cultures. In Coach and Couch (pp. 213-229). Palgrave Macmillan UK.

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