One might ask what is cultural communication? The term is popular in the wake of the twenty-first century, especially in the business world. The term defines the ability to create and maintain healthy relationships with members of different ethnical backgrounds. Each party in this relationship must learn the other culture’s values, their views on different matters, and how they make their decisions. Also, comprehending how the culture communicates, verbal and non-verbal, is also important for all the social contexts. Learning a different culture requires time and practice; reading is a good way to start, but is not sufficient.
Cross-cultural communication tries to break the walls set up by stereotyping different races for example, a certain group of people is known for their stealing among other offensive terms. Although, most of the population think the stereotypes are deserved, they are not aware of the effect those offensive terms have on the victimized group.
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This mode of communication is studied by scholars worldwide due to the diversity of cultures in the world. As an area of study, it specializes on how people of different cultural backgrounds communicate with each other and how they adapt in order to communicate with other cultures. The discipline was first developed during the cold war; the United States was caught in the middle of this confrontation. Both sides of the war, east and west, polarized the world; this resulted in a self-contained economy in the USA. This separation was brought down by advancements in the fields of economics, technology, and political systems. The cultural barriers, which had existed for a while, were now being broken down by the positive change in the named fields.
The business world is accredited for this notion for its transformation from country-capitalism to worldwide capitalism. Because of their ambitious nature, businesses had to expand into new territories, which posed a lot of challenges. The only solution to this problem was learning the new cultures. Although, this seems to be a straight-forward answer it’s quite the contrary. The visitors, in our case the entrepreneur, had to invest in developing relationships with the new people.
Programs had to be developed to train the employees, from language to social mannerisms. Overseas business expansions had to incorporate this. The employees had to be equipped with this knowledge. Individual countries are taking a keen interest in this discipline and have introduced the course to their universities.
Intercultural communication is as a result of the curious nature of human beings. When Christopher Columbus and his fellow sailors discovered the existence of other regions in the world intercultural communication, became a necessity. This development also occurred in the wake of the twentieth century. The businesses in the developed countries had satisfied their local markets and needed expansion. Globalization was a trend that every company had to adopt; it meant an increase in the consumer demography, a wider array of raw materials and human resources. These benefits are appealing to any business executive, and he will hasten the efforts to expand the business to newer horizons.
This form of communication is challenging, but is rewarding once one understands the differences among people of different cultures. Cross cultural management is slowly becoming an important part of today’s organizations due to their increased efforts in globalization. Canada is seen as the quintessential example for its many subcultures, which have merged perfectly with the rest. Each group, in this mash up of cultures, has different forms of verbal and non-verbal, and they form the basis of analysis when a business wants to setup in the country. Integrating the employees in the culture will never go unnoticed, and the native culture of the country might pose some resistance, which might make the practicing of business in that area troublesome.
In the case of Africa, the developed countries had good intentions, which were to spread civilization to all corners of the earth. The missionaries were placed at the helm of these expeditions, but as soon as the reports of the economic potential of the region reached the business world all hell broke loose. The colonial governments had no time to learn the local cultures and branded the Africans as a barbaric race, which required salvation from their ways. During the colonization epoch, the colonial countries benefited from their colonies and did not assist them in the long run. Colonization is the complete opposite of what the intercultural communication stands for, because the former devalues a society unlike the former.
There are different forms of cultures that have little to do with ethnic backgrounds. The office is an example, it comprises of people from different backgrounds and religions. The relationships forged by the office members ultimately affect the results to be delivered. When a harmonious relationship is established and the cogwheels in the office run smoothly, then optimum results are expected. In order to improve this sort of cooperation the management needs to organize events known as teambuilding activities, which help the office mates to bond. Differences in culture should not be the cause of conflict rather it should be seen as the beginning of a journey, which will benefit them. If any misunderstandings arise, they should be resolved quickly in order to dispel bad blood in the future.
The concept of time in different cultures is understood differently. Most of the people in the West perceive time as quantitative, while their counterparts in the East view it as an unlimited continuity. This fact should be considered whenever negotiations or conflict resolution is taking place among the people. The fortune 500 companies, on the other hand, do not accept such viewpoints and will try to establish cultures, which are conducive for achieving success. Although this might be an uphill battle the efforts in the long run pay, because it is not easy to increase the cultural intelligence of an organization.
The analysis of culture can take many forms; each organization identifies the kind of cultures it possesses, and strives to change it in order for it to benefit them. When instructors are introduced to teach about a new culture to their clients, the first lesson should be about respect for other people’s opinions and tolerance. Without this, no communication can go on, because humans are wired to identify the lack of respect and intolerance. Although, these two can be expressed verbally, non-verbal communication is also taught in order to make one’s actions in-sync with what they are communicating.
The benefit of intercultural communication is evidenced in the increased returns a company experiences after venturing in the new market. A business measures it success and influence by the value of returns, which ultimately lead to dominance of the market. The failure of a company to take into account the importance of cultural diversity might be its downfall. The classic example of Wal-Mart’s failure in Germany, the company was expanding its presence globally. The management made an error of hiring an American, who did not speak any German. Although their intentions were good, they did not take into account that the natives had their own culture. This poor decision has led Wal-Mart to the plummeting of the stock by one billion. The chain store tried to implement and tested Americanized culture in Germany, but the natives found this repulsive like the usage of grocery baggers and greeters. They did not consider the cultural differences between them and this led to their end in Germany.
The iceberg model is useful in depicting the relationship between a culture’s language and their practices; the language is just a tip of the iceberg. The industry, which incorporates intercultural communication practices to the letter, is the tourism and the hospitality industries. The two industries come in pairs, in that a tourism firm must provide extra services to its clients. The domestic tourism in most countries is not as developed as the foreign sector. The employees are obliged to be bilingual if not multilingual, as well as being taught the language the employees are also taught the culture. This helps in creating a good rapport with the tourists, who might contract the company for another expedition. The motto a home away from home should drive most of the hospitality businesses the tourist should feel comfortable with the new surroundings without nay adjustment problems.
As globalization reaches its peak, there is the fear that global monopolies will be developed. The big multinational companies are swallowing their competitors in the form of mergers to create unfair competitions to small companies. These mergers are a disadvantage to the developing parts of the world in those small operating companies. They are closed due to unfair competitions from the multinationals. The bigger companies can afford to reduce their prices as low as they see fit. The smalltime companies ultimately go out of business; this has adverse effects to the local economy as the unemployment rate rises. This does not spell well for people, and they are immersed in poverty. As intercultural communication continues being practiced, there should be an emphasis on political communication in order to prevent exploitation of third world nations.
Selling a commodity for people does not cover all the business activities, negotiating is the center of business. If a manager can negotiate the best deal he or she is respected. The negotiations determine almost everything in the business world. In our case, international business negotiations involve different cultures and their dynamics. The cultural differences that exist between two parties determine how the deal will proceed even prior to the negotiations beginning. It has been proven that the east and the west have a different understanding of the term negotiation. Americans opt for it in the case of conflict resolution, while the Chinese and Japanese do not advocate for it. In the case of negotiations, between the named opposing sides, different strategies will be adopted to win the argument.
Learning a different language for the purposes of business is challenging, but not as difficult as comprehending the culture that comes along with it. Memorizing a few words, in order to impress a prospective business, does not cover everything in the way in which those few words are delivered is what really matters. Also, the business practices must be in line with the culture of the natives any conflict between the two and the business is dead. A shrewd businessman should take an interest in the culture of his customers; treat them accordingly, in order to develop lasting friendships in the long run. In the bigger picture, multinational companies must provide fair competition to the local companies they find in developing countries. Fair competition will boost the economy of the concerned company, and it is a win-win situation for everyone. Finally, in any form of negotiation all parties involved needs must be taken into account before the final deal is arrived. A win-win situation is the only solution.
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