Discuss And Give Examples On Challenges In Communication In A Global Context
Discuss And Give Examples On Challenges In Communication In A Global Context After years of forecasts and predictions, it’s finally arrived at your small business The global economy. Maybe you’re expanding into another country. Or maybe you’re going to hire people from another country to work for you. There may even be a combination of the two changes on your horizon, which means you should prepare to encounter certain communication challenges now that you’re entering the global marketplace. The challenges are not insurmountable, but they will neither dissipate nor disappear on their own. In fact, probably the worst mistake you can make is to underestimate them — and if you’ve ever traveled to a foreign country, you already have a good idea as to why.
Cultural Differences Breed Verbal Confusion
Vacation photos may jog your memory: There’s you wearing a goofy hat and a new sunburn as you grip a paperback language translation book. And there’s another photo of you gesturing wildly, trying to explain to the taxi driver that you wish to either A) return to your hotel or B) forget the hotel and stop at the nearest outdoor bistro and begin the happy hour. In all likelihood, the driver won’t have the faintest idea of what you’re talking about. After all, how could an hour be happy?
But this is only the beginning of the global communication challenges you could encounter. Take it from Country Navigator, which says that people from few cultures say exactly what they’re thinking. Consider:
- In India, people are polite to a fault and will tell you what they think you want to hear.
- In Japan, where people also put great stock in harmonious relations, people are disinclined to say “no” even when it’s the appropriate answer (especially to an American).
- In Arab and other Asian cultures, things really get confusing because there is a huge disconnect between what people say and what they mean.
The communication gap doesn’t close even where you think there might be the greatest hope of clear-cut communication: the United Kingdom. If anything, the challenges intensify because the British are famous for saying exactly the opposite of what they mean. And they often use the subtext of humor as a verbal ambassador. So if someone says, “What a smashing idea!” it probably means they hate it.
So, make a mental note now. If you find yourself discussing marketing problems and solutions with a Brit, don’t hold back from saying that you think his SWOT analysis is awful. He’ll probably be flattered.
Barriers Inhibit Communication
Cultural differences may be the biggest communication barrier you face, but it’s hardly the only one. Skills You Need points out that even two coworkers who know each other well have to overcome ever-present hurdles, including:
- Language differences and accents.
- Use of jargon and unfamiliar words.
- Distractions, particularly noise from coworkers and phones.
- Differences in perception.
- Lack of attention or interest.
- Biases or prejudices, are usually silent but can be salient underlying forces.
Being mindful of these potential barriers is the first step in eliminating them. Alley Watch suggests keeping other communication principles in mind. They can be particularly helpful in office settings where people from multiple cultures find themselves facing communication challenges about marketing and other issues:
Principle 1: Culture and language are intrinsically linked. The words and phrases favored by a lifelong American are the results of the cultural influences that have shaped him. They are different sides of the same coin and help form his identity.
It suggests that it’s worth filing away, for it could serve as a springboard for multiple activities when you’re ready to tackle communication challenges at your small business head-on.
Principle 2: Successful communication — when a message is properly interpreted by the receiver — depends on both parties meeting on common ground.
It suggests that developing a rapport helps, but it’s only a first step. True common ground is attained when both parties understand each other’s emotions, too.
Principle 3: The receiver is the more important of the two parties in an exchange. As much time as Americans spend undergoing training to improve their speaking skills, it’s the listener who determines whether an exchange is successful and where things proceed after the message is sent.
It suggests (if not makes a case for) active listening training.
Principle 4: Language is fundamentally about communicating a desire for action.
It suggests that people in all cultures ought to look for and ask about “next steps” — the action behind words. What needs to be done? Who should be contacted? What time should the proposal be sent?
Principle 5: For all the marvelous benefits of technology, it can actually skew the cues, verbal tics, and signals people used to depend on to clarify uncertain communication.
It suggests that both senders and receivers of messages should check and double-check that they are being understood. Such requests for reassurance may risk irritating the other party, but communication breakdowns are an even bigger risk.
Bridge Your Cultural Divide
Since most of these principles for better communication in a global workplace flow so nicely to action steps, it can be easy to take the fundamentals of bridging cultural divides for granted. But Forbes says they’re worth spelling out:
- Getting employees together in one location as soon as possible. The sooner employees meet face-to-face, the sooner they will begin forging the connections that should lead them to become effective workplace collaborators. If travel costs prove to be an insurmountable burden, schedule frequent and regular video calls as a fallback.
- Immersing yourself in your new workplace culture and introducing American culture to your new foreign colleagues. There is no “right” way to break down cultural barriers, so it may help to think like a tourist in terms of what you need to learn and want to know. Arguably, no topic should be off-limits: food, holiday traditions, sports, celebrities, entertainment, and, of course, workplace norms and values.
- Tasking employees as teachers. Put them in charge of giving cultural presentations, holding lunchtime food tastings, and hosting Q&A sessions to break down cultural and language barriers. Rip a page from your old language translation book and pair one American with one foreign worker and direct them to work together on a list of frequently used (or misused) expressions.
- Simplifying communication, making a commitment to keep sentences short and succinct, and avoiding jargon, slang, and especially idioms, which rarely translate well. Remember the tendency of foreigners to take Americans literally. Even a conversation about current issues in marketing communications could trigger a coworker’s heart attack if you refer to “rocking the boat,” “twisting somebody’s arm” or “taking the bull by the horns.”