Monday 6 August 2012

The meaning of cross-cultural lies in the impact that culture has on an individual and his community, and the effects of this impact when different cultures are combined. The culture in which a person is raised plays a significant role in shaping his values, morals, behaviors and attitudes.
These characteristics impact how a person thinks, and what his overall mind-set is toward the world around him. When a person is met with the principles and ideals of a different culture, a cross-cultural interaction takes place.
 However cross culture refers to the interaction of people from different backgrounds in the business world. Cross culture is a vital issue in international business, as the success of international trade depends upon the smooth interaction of employees from different cultures and regions.
Cross culture can be experienced by an employee who is transferred to a location in another country. The employee must learn the language and culture of those around him, and vice-versa. This can be more difficult if this person is acting in a managerial capacity; someone in this position who cannot effectively communicate with or understand their employees' actions can lose their credibility. In an ever-expanding global economy, cross culture and adaptability will continue to be important factors in the business world.
 Hence a growing number of companies are consequently devoting substantial resources toward training their employees to interact effectively with those of companies in other cultures in an effort to foment a positive cross-cultural experience.

           Managerial communication is a function which helps managers communicate with each other as well as with employees within the organization.
          Communication helps in the transfer of information from one party also called the sender to the other party called the receiver.
          Managerial Communication helps in the smooth flow of information among managers working towards a common goal. The message has to be clear and well understood in effective communication.
         The team members should know what their manager or team leader intends to communicate.
       Effective managerial communication enables the information to flow in its desired form among managers, team leaders and their respective teams.
Managerial communication is of the following two types:
  • Interpersonal Communication - Interpersonal communication generally takes place between two or more individuals at the workplace.
  • Organizational Communication - Communication taking place at all levels in the organization refers to organizational communication.
A successful manager is one who communicates effectively with his subordinates. It is really essential for managers to express their views clearly for the team members to understand what exactly is expected out of them.
Usually there are two ways managers communicate amongst themselves and with their subordinates:
     i.        Verbal Communication
Communication done with the help of words is called as verbal communication. No written records are available in verbal communication.
In verbal communication individuals need to be very careful about their speech. What they speak and how they speak matter a lot. Managers must choose the right words to address their team members. Make sure you do not confuse your team members.
One has to be loud and clear while interacting with employees at the workplace. Be very clear and precise.
    ii.        Written Communication
Communication is also done through emails, letters, manuals, notices and so on. Such mode of communication where written records are available is often called written communication.
Managers must inculcate a practice of communicating through emails with their juniors as it is the one of the most reliable modes of communication. It is essential for the managers to master the art of writing emails. Avoid using capitals, bright colours, designer font styles in official mails. Make sure your signatures are correct.
Body Language
Managers must also take special care of their body language, facial expressions, gestures for effective communication.
A manager who always has a frown on his face is generally not liked and respected by people. Being a Boss does not mean you need to shout at people. Be warm and friendly with your team members.

Cross-cultural communication exists when people from differing cultures have reached a certain degree of understanding regarding their differences. For understanding to take place, both people must have some form of knowledge or awareness regarding the norms or customs that exist in each other's culture. Verbal and nonverbal communications can contain implied meanings, as well as certain degrees of symbolism. For successful communication to take place, background knowledge concerning values, norms and perceptions is necessary in order for clear, effective communication to take place.

Cross-cultural communication is a valuable but difficult skill. The most obvious barrier is language, but verbal communication is only a small part of how we convey information. Tonal  the pitch and speed of one's voice and non-verbal communication make up as much as 93% of our total communication. All of these factors are influenced by culture, and the meaning of certain tones or gestures can differ from one culture to another. In a culturally diverse situation, with people of various cultures, the communication barriers are even more complex. The following barriers will be examined:

1. Language: A language barrier to effective communication, even when everyone is using the same language, is the use of colloquialisms, idioms or expressions. In informal English, there are many expressions that do not mean what they sound like. Some examples are "What's up?" or "to get the hang of it." Avoid cultural or pop culture references, since these can be both difficult to understand and alienating. Some tips for effective cross-cultural communication are to speak slowly, speak clearly, avoid long complex sentences, use different words to say the same thing and take pauses.
2. Formality: Different cultures have varying levels of formality in different situations. For example, in North America, business interactions are usually more formal than between family members. However, in many other cultures, business interactions are based on a personal relationship; therefore, the communication is much more flexible and informal. Meanwhile, speaking to parents or elders may require much more respect and formal communication than North Americans would expect. Take the time to observe and ask questions about the social and cultural norms when you are presented with an unknown cultural milieu.

3. Body Language:
Much of what we communicate is through gestures, facial expressions, posture, eye contact and touching. For some cultures, the sense of personal space is very different, and standing close or touching when speaking is the norm. Eye contact can also convey a great deal, and for some cultures, too much eye contact is considered rude or aggressive. Facial expressions such as smiling or furrowing the eyebrows may be used differently depending on the culture. When communicating in a culturally diverse environment, be aware of these differences and do not jump to conclusions if someone reacts in an unexpected way.

4. Values: The hardest things to adapt when communicating in a culturally diverse situation are the values associated with culture. You can easily change your posture or stop using slang, but you can't change your core values, or expect others to change theirs. What you can do is be aware of your value system and how it influences your communication. You also need to understand the value system of the person you're communicating with, and how it might affect the way he perceives your communication.

Culture is variously defined as the customary beliefs, social forms and material traits of a racial, religious or social group; also as the characteristic features of everyday existence among a group of people. Culture determines how we view ourselves and others, helps define values, dictates how we relate to others of different social status and forms the basis of our expectations for input into conversation and debate. This combination creates a context for conflict and misunderstanding on inter-cultural teams. Proper understanding can result in increased harmony and productivity.
As a manager, you know that good team communication is the key to cultivating an efficient, loyal, and hard-working team of self starters. And effective communication allows you to troubleshoot budding issues before they blossom into serious problems. You can improve team communication by providing appropriate communication technology to your staff, but in the end, improving team communication has more to do with management style than anything else.
The following are strategies of overcoming managerial communication challenges in a cross – cultural organizational environment

1.   Educating team members: Leaders of inter-cultural teams must define the relational context for their team. Time spent educating the team members regarding the culture of their peers will pay big dividends. Team members will be more patient with each other if they understand the perceptions and communication style of their peers. They will realize that what might seem like a rude, aloof or disengaged communication style is simply a manifestation of another team member's cultural background.
2.   Establish super-cultural group norms: This is defining in advance for group what are acceptable and non-acceptable responses to conflict. Identify the proper chain of command, type of disputes that should be taken to a team leader and codify with the group what values are considered sacrosanct. This will create clarity and provide for swifter resolution of miscommunication and differences.
3.   Identify which of your team members come from low and high context cultures: High context cultures are those wherein a large part of the understanding in communication is derived from the context or is considered as given. In low context cultures the converse is true. Examples of high context cultures include countries in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and South America. Low context cultures include the United States, Germany and Scandinavian countries. A person from a low context culture will tend to speak more directly and concentrate on the words being spoken. A person from a high context culture will derive additional cues from body language, tone of voice and perceptions of status.
4.   Identify which team members are from cultures that tend to use direct or indirect means of communication: Members from high context cultures will tend to rely on allusion more than direct statements. They will leave out certain bits of information assuming it has been derived from past experience or should be already understood. Members from low context cultures will be characterized by a desire to explain more, will focus on the direct meaning of words communicated and will speak more directly. They will want to "put it all on the table." A person with an indirect communication style might be perceived as illusive to a direct-speaking peer. Whereas a direct communicator may be perceived as too blunt or as talking down to an indirect speaking peer.
5.   Clarify for the team the differences between collectivism and individualism in cultural experience: Members from high context cultures will tend to focus on group achievement and "saving face." Members from low context cultures will focus more in individual achievement. Low context cultures tend to place greater value on individual achievement. High context cultures are exemplified by greater reliance on extended family relationships, whereas low context cultures tend to value individuals making it on their own.
6.   Challenge the team members to divorce themselves from media-generated perceptions: Quite often, the only exposure one has received to another culture is that provided through movies and popular music. This can create stereotypes. Try to create contexts for integration and immersion rather than division and avoidance. It's natural for team members to group based on what they have in common. Use get-acquainted games and activities, assign members to work groups that include diversity and encourage professional but friendly interaction, such as group lunches or coffee breaks. Help them relate to one another as acquaintances and not just as work peers.

Several factors influence your communication style, but there are four primary factors that lend their influence: culture, emotional intelligence, professional training and gender. According to speech and language pathologist Rebecca Shafir, your communication style will be an expresser, driver, analytical or relater. Based on the category in which your communication style falls, your personality type will be passive, assertive or aggressive. The following factors will be examined:
1.   Culture: Culture is central to how you express yourself, according to a article by Marcelle E. DuPraw and Marya Axner. Culture is a broad concept with many different definitions. At its most basic, culture refers to the environments that help to shape your worldview or the way you interpret things that go on around you. Your family and the country you grew up in, as well as any countries you may have lived in, will all become a part of your culture. Whether you're an expressive or analytical communicator will always be influenced by your cultural upbringing.
2.   Emotional Intelligence: An article on interpersonal communication from the University of Northern Iowa notes that 85 percent of what characterizes outstanding leaders is emotional intelligence. Your ability to accurately evaluate your strengths and weaknesses and to interpret the emotions of others is what makes up your emotional intelligence. If a coworker has a driver communication style and approaches you with an issue that makes her visibly angry, choosing a relater communication style may prevent an escalation in the discourse and lead to a positive outcome. The manner in which you communicate is by no means fixed. Your emotional intelligence allows you to successfully alter your communication style for a given situation and build healthy relationships.
3.    Professional Training: Your communication style can change with influence from a variety of factors. One of these is formal training. Even though your cultural background may make you more inclined to a passive communication style, you can attend seminars or workshops to develop a more aggressive communication style for business purposes. Professional training can help you identify your communication style, and you can use this self-awareness to make whatever changes are needed.

4.   Gender: Your gender has an influence on your communication style. Being cognizant of how you communicate with men and women in the workplace can be particularly helpful in developing healthy relationships. The University of Northern Iowa's article on interpersonal communication suggests that men should be polite and not monopolize conversations and avoid direct, "barking" vocal tones in their interactions with women in the workplace. Women should speak up and avoid statements that suggest indecisiveness. These recommendations are based on communication styles that have been identified as gender-specific.

Cultures change for many reasons. Environmental changes, both short term and longer term, often force cultural and behavioral changes in a group of people. In addition, migration imports cultural traits from other areas which often influence change in overall cultural components. In some cases, mass communication allows for the export of cultural values and mores from one culture to another.

Cavusgil, Knight and Riesenberger; 2007 International Business: Strategy,
Management and the new realities.
David Livermore, Ph.D.; 2010 : "Leading with Cultural Intelligence"
Geert Hofstede: Cultural Dimensions
James W. Neuliep, 2008: Intercultural Communication: A contextual
Approach (retrived, 2012) communication barriers due
to cultural diversity

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