Misunderstandings are common between native speakers of the same language, Imagine what more it will cause to people with different language or cultural group. With continuous globalization, these kinds of problems may arise. That is why cross-cultural knowledge is now becoming a must. So, here we will discuss 4 important keys to effective cross cultural communication:
Respect is the first key to effective communication. Etiquette and good manners should never be forgotten. Do not be selective on who you give your regards to. This means that you should be respectful to everyone not just to people who you perceive as having a higher status than you. Keep in mind that we have different cultural values than others, but basic values of respect are universal. Just put yourself in their shoes and think how you would like to be treated in that situation and you’ll do just fine.
Each culture greatly influences the way people think, see, speak, listen and understand. Even in the way they act, cultural values plays a big part. It is a huge advantage for you if you know a second language because it will be easier for you to understand that individual who belongs to a certain cultural group. If not, at least try to make an effort to learn their culture as much as you can. Our cultural differences plays a big role in this part. Some expressions and gestures differs from one cultural group to another. Some gestures we are accustomed to may be insulting to others. For example, many nationalities view eye contact as a sign of respect when talking to someone but for some it is not that important. Many differences like these may cause conflict especially in our workplace. That’s why it would be better if we understand how to manage these differences.
Hearing is not listening. When you listen, you have the intention or the conscious effort to process the meaning of the words that is being said to you. By doing this, you give the person you are talking to, the time for him to finish what he or she needs to say before you begin.
But it is also important to listen to him/her with an open mind. Keep his/her cultural background in mind. Does he/she mean what he/she says exactly or not. Most English speaking countries tend to be more specific and direct, these are called low-context communicators, while some are high-context communicators which tends to be more elaborate. It is better to be mindful of the non-verbal gestures or cues from high context communicators to effectively understand them.
Sometimes it is not enough to listen to someone. It is much better if you comprehend what they really mean. And accept the fact that we have cultural dissimilarity. If we accept these differences, the more we will be able to communicate to them properly. Many global leaders use interpreters when dealing with other nationalities but the potential for misunderstanding grows. That’s why adapting to this challenge is necessary. Cross cultural knowledge is essential to anyone’s growth and success. Accept that cultural disparity are not barriers, just challenges that we have to welcome and find ways to work with.
So, those are the 4 keys on effective cross-cultural communication. Remember those tips to guide you on resolving cultural conflicts, issues and problems. But remember, this does not stop in just learning a new language, it is a continuous acquisition of knowledge and skills in making good relationship to members of other cultural groups.