Cross-Cultural Communication

Cross-Cultural communicationLast weekend, I gave a presentation about cross-cultural communication. To my surprise, I found out that a vast majority of the population has a misguided perception that cultures are only about people’s skin colors, different ethnicities or religions, which is very surprising considering the emphasis that is being placed on diversity and the importance therein.

Also, many people didn’t quite grasp the difference between both communication and effective communication; and the concept that there is a difference between hearing and active listening.

Taking all of the above into consideration, I then decided to write this post about the actual definition of effective cross-cultural communication and why it is important to focus on it.

I always like to build a business case around any subject I tackle. When I researched the business case for communication these were the results:

1- The demographics in the United States are rapidly changing: It was perceived that the minorities in the United States will become majorities by 2050; but according to new data, we will see the shift earlier in 2042- 2043.
a- The Hispanic population will increase from 15 to 30 percent within the next 30 years
b- Asians will increase from five to eight percent
c- African Americans will increase only by one percent from 14 to 15 percent.
d- There is at least one million legal immigrants moving to the United States yearly
2- The increased number of female executives where inter-gender communications becomes vital
3- There are four generations communicating at work, where some even consider the presence of 5 generations (dividing generation Y to pre & post 9/11)
4- The buying power of the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and trans-gender community is increasing

We spend 70 percent of our daily time communicating with each other. Sustaining productivity and increasing revenues can come down to the point if communication is conducted effectively or not.

Let us go back for a moment to the cross-cultural term: it means communication across different cultures. The world around us especially in the United States is very diverse as demonstrated in the business case.

Diversity includes but is not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation; it also includes other factors like socio-economics, education, titles, job descriptions, geographical locations, and marital status, to the point where the diversity of thought, is also included.

And why do we care about diversity in communication? Because each category of diversity has its own culture and each culture has its own communication style, which should also be taken in consideration for product marketing campaigns to different segments of the market.

Then, we need to consider the individuals’cultures, social cultures and the organizational cultures. So, are we fighting a losing battle? In actuality it is much simpler than it sounds, although some flexibility and sensitivity to the different diversity factors and cultures is needed.

The subject might seem a no-brainer, but I have been surprised by how many people never thought about cross-cultural communication in this way. And most importantly:

Diversity starts at home.

Sahar Andrade
Diversity Consultant – Social Media Strategist
Sahar Consulting, LLC.
(818)861 9434

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8 thoughts on “Cross-Cultural Communication

  1. The phrase cross-cultural communication describes the ability to successfully form, foster, and improve relationships with members of a culture different from one’s own. It is based on knowledge of many factors, such as the other culture’s values, perceptions, manners, social structure, and decision-making practices, and an understanding of how members of the group communicate verbally, non-verbally, in person, in writing, and in various business and social contexts.

  2. Thanks for focusing on this important topic, Sahar. I agree that it is increasingly more important for individuals to gain information on various cultural customs. They must ensure they have proper exchanges. Often, effective business deals come down to appreciating one another’s values and communication methods. Ignorance can seriously hinder people during important financial or organizational situations, so I encourage individuals to read up on other individuals’ backgrounds and treat them with respect.

    • Brett:
      Thank you so much I wished more people paid attention to other people ways of communication – keeping in mind that there are other ways beside their own and that they are not wrong or weird just different.
      Different gestures, eye contact level and voice pitch men different things to different people, We need to keep an open mind
      Thank you

  3. hello sir, you have given a new sense of understanding of cross cultural communication.Does the understanding of various cultural diversity helps only product marketing or does it consider other functions of the organization?

    • Diversity and inclusion affects every single function in an organization- It has mamy advantages you can read my blog on”6 advantages of diversity” it increases employee engagement and creates a positive working environment that will increase over all productivity
      Thank you for your comments

    • Absolutely Deborah! Communications is at the core of any human interaction either verbal or non-verbal. It increases trust, interaction and productivity that affect revenues in any organization
      Thank you for your comments Deborah

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