Intercultural Communication TipsWorking
in a multicultural environment requires some basic understanding of how
to work cross-culturally. These 10 tips on intercultural communication
are a perfect starting point.
Intercultural Communication Tips
across cultures is a new experience for many people. Intercultural
communication can be a dynamic and creative affair but occasionally due
to the inability to interpret people correctly it can be a challenge.
Building an understanding of other people’s cultures, their
communication styles and behaviors can go a long way in improving
relationships and being more successful in an intercultural environment.
without trawling through lots of books, articles or even taking part in
an intercultural communication workshop it is possible to implement
some basic principles to help improve one’s intercultural communication
skills. The following intercultural communication tips are provided to
help people working in international and multicultural environments get
some basic insight into dealing more effectively with people and not
letting culture become an issue.
1. Be Patient: Working in an
intercultural environment can be a frustrating affair. Things may not
get done when expected, communication can be tiresome and behavior may
be inappropriate. Patience with yourself and others helps move beyond
such issues and address how to avoid similar incidents in the future.
Establish Rules: Sometimes if working in a truly intercultural team it
may be necessary for all to take a step back and set down some ground
rules. i.e. how do we approach punctuality, meetings, communication,
emails, disagreements, etc? It is always a good idea to try and develop
the rules as a group rather than have them imposed.
Questions: When you don’t understand something or want to know why
someone has behaved in a certain way, simply ask. Asking questions
stops you making assumptions, shows the questioned you did not
understand them and helps build up your bank of intercultural knowledge.
Respect: The foundation of all intercultural communication is respect.
By demonstrating respect you earn respect and help create more open and
5. The Written Word: Sometimes people who do
not have English as their mother tongue will read more proficiently
than they speak. It is a good idea to always write things down as a
6. Time: Not everyone in the world thinks "time is money".
Understand that for many people work is low down on the priority list
with things like family taking a much higher precedence. Do not expect
people to sacrifice their own time to meet deadlines. It is good
practice to always leave a bit of spare time when considering deadlines.
Humour: In an intercultural environment one man’s joke is another’s
insult. Be wary of differences in the sense of humour and also the
acceptability of banter and the like in a business environment.
Always Check: The easiest way of minimizing the negative impact of
intercultural communication is to check and double check. Whether
agreeing something or giving instructions, a minute spent double
checking all parties are ‘reading from the same sheet’ saves hours of
work later on down the line.
9. Be Positive: When faced with
incidents of an intercultural nature steer clear of blame and conflict.
Stay positive, analyse the problem areas and work as a team to build
strategies and solutions to ensure the same never occurs again.
Self-Reflect: A good intercultural communicator not only looks outwards
but also inwards. Take time to reflect on your own communication,
management or motivation style and see where you can improve as an
Research into the area of intercultural
communication and working in a multicultural environment continues to
show that the culturally diverse team is usually the most inventive and
vibrant. However, unless businesses and individuals start to address
the area of intercultural communication as a serious business issue,
this potential will not be realized.
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