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Cross-cultural Communication: Tips for Successful Workplace Interactions

Posted on August 12, 2023
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Why encourage cultural diversity in workplaces?

  • Diverse cultural viewpoints encourage creativity
  • Every culture brings local market knowledge
  • Helps develop insights into different cultures
  • Allows acquiring best of talent globally
  • Increased diversity of skill sets
  • Inclusivity improves a workplace’s reputation

Cross-cultural Communication: Tips for Successful Workplace Interactions

Multinational workplaces, which are known for their diversity, have to overcome issues of communication. As people of every culture have their own unique habits and customs, interacting with people from a different culture, even without a language barrier, can be difficult at times.

Let us see in this article how multicultural communication can be enabled effectively.

Listening actively is a crucial way of creating effective cross-cultural interaction in the workplace. When you pay attention to the person speaking, it is easier to bring about trust and create better relationships as they appreciate the fact that you are indeed listening to whatever they say.

So, do not lose focus on the speaker at all when they talk. It works to your advantage when you are communicating with a person whose native language is not English. It would help to rephrase the conversation and narrate it to the speaker. By doing so, you are demonstrating that you are paying attention and also understanding what the speaker is trying to convey.

In case you do not know the context of the conversation, pay notice to the non-verbal signals through their body language. Use your own body language to react accordingly through gestures, eye contact, and nods. At the same time, be mindful of your non-verbal signals, where even touching a person is not permitted.

The objective here is to strike up a conversation where both sides do not misunderstand each other. Firstly, you have to understand what an individual is saying, and the speaker also should be confident of that fact.

You also need to improve your communication skills while you listen actively. Instruct clearly by asking the other person to repeat to you to make sure that they have understood.

Keep your office open to employees so that they can drop into your cabin and resolve issues by asking questions that they could have. It will be more applicable to particular cultures that are not willing to indulge in gestures to avoid the anxiety of being reproached.

Display empathy while communicating with each of your employees. It’s crucial that they know that you are not just nodding your head but also trying to understand what they are going through.

In a diverse environment, be respectful and do not try to offend anyone, even accidentally. The way to do that is by being transparent and communicating clearly at every point in time. Always welcome people, though, by keeping a distance and responding regularly.

Though you can be witty, certain cultures may not like the way you may be humorous at the workplace. If you want to make things light-hearted at the workplace, ensure that your jokes won’t offend anyone.

Every culture differs from all other cultures, and this is a fact that cannot be changed. You need to appreciate those differences in order to collaborate with them or even when you are around them.

It will help if you learn at least a little about the personal history of your team and their respective cultures to establish a bond. There will be things that you will not be able to comprehend, so let go of those things.

Encourage people of different cultures in your team to bond. Let each one give a basic into their cultural traits so that the team can start respecting one another and connect well. In the bargain, you would also get to know about their cultures.

Every culture follows certain protocols according to which they communicate. Some could be informal compared to others. In your spare time, devote time to research every culture from which your team members hail so that you know what to say when you meet them next. Try not to be too informal with them by referring to them by their first names.

When having cross-cultural conversations, ensure being direct and plain. Avoid using complicated words. Even when you are stating something or assigning them tasks, keep the language as simple as possible. It is hut as if you were talking to a child.

Never use colloquialisms or slang words, especially if you are a native English speaker. Though those people may have become fluent in English, they will struggle with idioms, phrases, and colloquialisms, among others. Even if they know it, they may not know why exactly you are using it in a particular context. Leave out informal usages when having cross-cultural conversations.

When you respect cultural differences in the workplace, it will make employees, regardless of their cultures, feel good about themselves, which will make them work harder and smarter.

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