Cross-Cultural Communications Thesis

Pages: 5 (1639 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Communication

Cross cultural Communication (International Business)

Nowadays, with almost every country going global, cross-cultural communication has become an integral part of business. Rosenbloom and Larsen pointed out the growing need for interaction among different countries worldwide, "globalization in the sense of firms from all over the world interacting and dealing with each other is expected to be the normal state of affairs for the majority of businesses" (309). The ability of being able to communicate with other countries has become an essential and indispensable part of business. Nancy Patricia Lee also holds this view as according to her, "the ability to communicate succinctly across cultural, linguistic and national borders is now mandatory for all effective international transactions" (1).

Businesses continue to be affected by globalization. Apart from negotiations taking place between two countries or among several countries, globalization has also affected businesses in a way that employees all over the world continue to interface and work with colleagues from other countries. Cross cultural communication is no longer limited to business transactions or negotiations. Cross cultural communication in business has expanded and now also includes the interaction of employees from different cultural backgrounds and different countries to conduct day-to-day business transactions. With the recent advancement in technology, people are becoming more and more exposed to other cultures. Interaction with people from other cultures and different races has become more frequent through the advent of the Internet with most businesses being transacted online.

According to Lee, "as international trade and business initiatives increase, the need for better communication has become not only more important but also more difficult" (1). Surely one of the biggest challenges in cross cultural communication is language. However it is not the only obstacle that most people encounter.

Many times, people fall into the trap of believing that certain cultures are universal. Daniel Workman notes that American, Australian, British, German, and Swedish communicators usually presume that the way they communicate and the way they usually understand a message is universally accepted. Workman explained this to mean that "cultures with high universalism believe that their ideas and practices can be applied everywhere without modification." Furthermore, Workman also noted that this attitude of thinking that one's culture is highly universal often leads to "communication style clashes with prospective trade partners like China."

In order to communicate effectively and carry out business successfully, cultural differences must be taken into account. Roxanne Blanford said that the key to successful communication and cooperation with other nationalities is the development of "a better understanding of the distinctions inherent in communicating within and across cultures." Understanding and respecting cultural differences in communication can result to better international relations. Respecting and honoring cultural differences can make the difference in communicating with people from different countries. In order to manage the interaction and achieve effective communication, people should be mindful of other people's culture -- their belief system, their business culture, communication style, and other cultural values.

As communication is about the exchange of information and ideas from the sender to the receiver, one must take into consideration that communicating with someone from another country requires more than just sending out a message and receiving information. One should strive to be sensitive and to "communicate beyond our cultural and linguistic experience" (Lee, 1). Business interactions also involve activities such as the exchange of information, decision-making, and negotiations. A great deal of research has been done to understand the business cultures of different countries.

One of the major barriers in cross cultural communication is language. According to Lee, this is so because "the message must be broken down into words or groups of words, sounds and grammar or syntactical patterns" (2). This may prove to be a difficult challenge particularly for nationals from countries such as Japan, Korea, and China who are still in the process of learning English as a second language. Furthermore, Lee pointed out that thought patterns may probably pose difficulties too. Lee said that the way a thought is presented may differ from country to country as is the case when comparing English and Japanese. According to Lee, this difference can be seen in the way a thought is presented in Japanese; "in Japanese you start with the specific (justification, background and explanation) and then end with the main point (general)" (2). In contrast, in English, a thought is presented in such a way that the main point or the general idea is presented first followed by the justification, the background, and finally the explanation.

Difficulties in communicating with people from other countries also occur in the general manner people think and communicate. Americans are known to be direct, straight to the point, and expressive. This is said to be called as the 'John Wayne approach to negotiation' or also known as the 'shoot from the hip' style of negotiating (Lee, 2). On the other hand, the Japanese are known for being indirect and frequently silent (Graham, 128). Japanese are not known to be aggressive; they tend to avoid being direct and expressive unlike the Americans. For an American and a Japanese to communicate with each other without knowledge of their differences, it is very likely that both will encounter discomfort in communicating with each other not to mention misunderstandings that may arise from the different ways both conduct themselves while communicating.

Another difficulty in cross cultural communication is the transmission of message. Lee described this as a complex process. This includes the "active participation through the use of turn-taking and listening techniques, and the interpretation of linguistic nuances, tone variations and body language" (Lee, 2). For example, among Japanese body language is considered to be a highly important aspect of communication. Japanese are noted to be uncomfortable with body languages such as leaning against walls, sitting an ankle on a knee, leaning back into a chair or sofa, stretching legs out while sitting, etc. (Ingram).

Difficulties in communication between two people from different cultures may also arise from the cultural differences. According to Lee, "linguists have also shown that communication is closely related to culture" (2) and thus it is considered to be important that a person take into account "both individual and culturally taught values, beliefs, attitudes and behavior" (Lee, 2). For researchers such as Lee, this is proof that cross cultural communication and the difficulties that arise from it goes beyond one's linguistic ability. Cross cultural communication is said to be linked to an individual's past experiences, personal idiosyncrasies, and personal knowledge (Lee, 2). For Nancy Adler (qtd. In Lee, 2), if sentences or words are taken out of a specific pattern of thought and behavior, misunderstanding may potentially occur. A prime example of such instances when the nuances of language causes communication breakdown between a native speakers with someone from a different nationality as quoted by Lee from Nancy Adler's book includes a Japanese's interpretation of the phrase 'That will be very difficult' which means that a deal is no longer on. This same phrase can possibly be misinterpreted by a Norwegian businessman and understand it that the deal only has some unresolved problems that are needed to be resolved. This is an example wherein the choice of words can lead to misunderstanding or even miscommunication. If nuances such as these are not known to both parties and are not explained, it could lead to disagreements and failed expectations.

Another example of a cultural value that affects communication is illustrated in Japanese value of first impressions. First impressions are important to Japanese businessmen. The Japanese think that it is rude for a foreign negotiator to take a seat before a Japanese negotiator does (D'Herbais, et al., 11). If a foreign negotiator breaches this cultural value, the Japanese businessman will already have a negative impression on the foreign negotiator and the business… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Cross-Cultural Communications.  (2009, November 25).  Retrieved December 13, 2018, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/cross-cultural-communications/358712

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"Cross-Cultural Communications."  Essaytown.com.  November 25, 2009.  Accessed December 13, 2018.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/cross-cultural-communications/358712.