Intercultural Communication in the Global Workplace

Today's companies are doing business more and more in a global context. The people that count in any business from the suppliers to clients to employees are increasingly based in remote locations in foreign countries. The need for effective and clear intercultural communication is becoming vital in securing success in today's global workplace.

Intercultural communication has many definitions. In short intercultural communication looks at how people, from differing cultural backgrounds, endeavour to communicate. It draws on areas such as cultural anthropology and other areas of communication to build an academic framework.  At its foundation is the desire to establish and understand how people from different cultures communicate with each other and help people improve this.

Within the context of the global workplace, intercultural communication looks at how people communicate (verbally and non-verbally), manage, work together, approach deadlines, negotiate, meet, greet, build relationships and much more. Companies and individuals looking to do business within the global workplace often fail to address such areas before doing business abroad. This can and does lead to poor performance and lost deals. Greater understanding of intercultural differences, etiquette, protocol and communication as well as more informed planning will certainly lead to a much higher probability of achieving business goals.

Intercultural communication today means getting a competitive edge. Why? Because today business is highly competitive and fast changing. People need to get it right, and get it right the first time. Whether someone is looking for a new supplier, giving a presentation, or negotiating a contract intercultural communication can, does and will play an important role. It impacts our ability to communicate effectively within a culture as well as how we are perceived.

Etiquette and protocol aside, people with intercultural communication skills are those with certain key competencies and characteristics. Those that do well working with other cultures usually demonstrate open-mindedness, inquisitiveness, patience and self-awareness. These basic skills help nurture a sympathetic, personal and intuitive approach to doing business that lends itself to working with the unknown.  However, this is only a firm foundation. Individuals also need to acquire operational tools and practical skills to help them express themselves and adapt their style and approach to the needs of the target culture. This is achieved through research, experience, intercultural training courses and asking colleagues.

Working in the global workplace, although a necessity, is proving to have a positive effect on individuals and companies. As people are forced to think outside the box they develop greater interpersonal skills and learn news ways of doing things. In conclusion, the need for intercultural communication skill is obvious - we are all working in an interconnected global economy and it is important to build good relationships with people from other cultures. This leads to better business.

© Kwintessential Ltd

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