Today’s governments, organizations and companies are increasingly dealing on a global stage. We are no longer limited by borders or distance and, as a result, globalization has meant a fundamental change in who, where and why we do business. The people who run these organizations, from workers to bosses to providers, increasingly rely on remote locations in foreign countries or a rich mix of cultural backgrounds. The need for clear and effective intercultural communication is becoming vital to ensure success in today’s globalized workplace.
What is intercultural communication? In summary, it has many definitions, but fundamentally it looks at how people, from different cultural / national backgrounds, strive to communicate or work together. It draws on areas within the academy such as cultural anthropology, sociology, and business studies to provide you with a basic framework. Notable scholars who have specialized in intercultural communication are Hall, Hofstede, and Trompenaars. At its foundation, the objectives of intercultural communication are to establish and understand how people from different cultures behave, think or do. Once this is appreciated, it is possible to help people overcome intercultural differences and achieve a better (working) environment.
Within the context of the global company or organization, intercultural communication analyzes how people communicate (verbally and non-verbally), manage, work together, agree to deadlines, negotiate, meet, greet, build relationships, etc. These issues are becoming much more relevant now on two fronts. 1) for companies with a mix of cultures working together and 2) for companies that want to successfully trade abroad. In both situations, if people do not know the best way to get along and carry out their business activities, this can lead to poor performance and lost agreements. A greater understanding of intercultural communication differences, manners, etiquette,
Ultimately, today’s cross-cultural communication means gaining a competitive advantage. Why? We all know that today’s businesses are highly competitive and change rapidly. People need to get it right, and get it right the first time. Whether someone is looking for a new provider, giving a presentation, or negotiating an intercultural communication contract can, does, and will play an important role. It affects our ability to communicate effectively within a culture, as well as our perception.
Working in the globalized world economy is proving to have a positive effect on people and businesses. As people are forced to think outside the box, they develop greater interpersonal skills, flex their creative strength, and learn new ways of doing things. In conclusion, the need for intercultural communication skills is obvious: we all work in an interconnected global economy and it is important to build good relationships with people from other cultures. This leads to better business.