Cross-cultural awareness

Culture is how we communicate to the world. In simple terms, culture means: “the way we do things here”.

There are some common threads that run through all cultures and can be divided into three parts: how we communicate through words, material things, and behaviour.

  1. Words are the medium of business, politics and diplomacy: written and spoken
  2. Material things indicate our status and power.
  3. Behaviour creates feedback on how others feel about us: social conditioning and learned responses

If you are to do business with people from other cultures, it is vital to understand what they consider normal, how they process information, and their protocols for doing business.

When we are aware that other cultures are different, we start to recognise and understand the ‘silent language’ and ‘conditioned behaviour’ that exists beyond people’s conscious awareness. We become sensitive to other meanings.

The staff you employ may come from different regions and have different expectations. Customers, too, are very diverse, having preferences and expectations that may differ from yours.  How important is it for you connect with them properly?

The essence of effective cross-cultural communication has more to do with releasing the right responses than with sending the ‘right’ messages.

Edward Hall, Understanding Cultural Differences

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