Why is it important to be culturally aware when communicating in a diverse world?
Communicating in a diverse world is important in today’s age of global business. Effective communication in a diverse environment may require critical thinking. It may require people to study their surroundings and think critically about how to communicate effectively in situations, which can vary from culture to culture.
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According to Mbiti "Although communication has some basic rules it has no global standard. Because of culture, socialization, language among different people of the world communication has to be learned as a skill. A business executive from America will need to sharpen his or her Chinese language and culture. This is because not all persons that you speak with will understand English and they will also have expectations with regards to their culture." This shows that globalization has introduced complexities in how we communicate thus communication across cultures becomes a vital tool for both business and social purposes. One needs to understand what to do and what not to, how, when, where etc this is because what applies in one culture may not apply to another.
In any business transaction, a key element to success is trust. This can be acquired when one feels accepted in their environment, and not judged or threatened. There is always a little fear in the unknown and it may be hard to communicate when little is known about what makes another individual feel uneasy. Welcoming different customs, can be an indicator to one that they accept another's viewpoint, not only in how one lives, but also in what their values may be. Sharing common values by becoming aware of an individuals customs can break through barriers of indecision, hesitancy, and uncompromising solutions that can hinder any operating business and reduce the productivity and global expansion, attached to it.
As the business market place is becoming increasingly globalized, the need to understand different cultures and languages is becoming a necessity. The emergence and enhancement of markets in varied nations makes global awareness and cultural relevancy vitally important. The ability to make, create, and increase business transactions lies in the ability to build bridges. Cultural appreciation and linguistic awareness are critical elements in this process. For example, in analyzing demographics, the reality is that Spanish speaking individuals in the United States will represent a numeric majority. If a business can tap into this cultural niche with a sense of relevancy and appreciation, large profits can be reaped. A way to ensure this is through communicating with as many groups as possible in as many settings as possible.
The points made in post above regrading importance for conducting the business across the globe are very valid. However it is important to realize that globalization today means much more than selling and buying in multiple countries.
The importance of intercultural awareness and communication has also becomes very important for internal management of organizations. We find that frequently large organizations across the world tend to employ people from many different cultures. This is quite well known for companies having different business units across the globe, and transferring employees across the globe to different countries. But this problem has also become also very important to organizations operating within confines of a single country. Thus we find that now US population consists of many different ethnic groups such as earliest American settlers, African Americans, Puerto Ricans, and so on.
To be able for people of different cultural background to communicate and work together effectively, it is essential for them to have some minimum understanding of cultures of each other. Without such understanding there are real possibility of poor communication. Even when people speak a common language like English, the same words may have different connotation to people from different cultures. For example "a lucky dog" may be an acceptable compliment to an Englishman who has won a lottery, but it may offend an Indian. In addition to verbal, communication sometimes our behavior is also can be misunderstood because of cultural differences - for example Britishers are considered to be rather formal while Americans are more out going. Unless differences like these are understood, people may fail to understand behavior of people from other cultures and respond appropriately. An extreme example of this is provides by people from Gujarat State of India. These people consider it very inauspicious to use phrases meaning things like "I am leaving" or "I am going". Instead they use a phrase like "I will return". Once a person knows these things, it is very easy to avoid mistakes. But, ignorance of these difference can lead to major misunderstanding between people.
Being culturally aware is very important for all the points stated above. However, a big factor for why being culturally aware is important is simply to not offend someone. For example, an English speaker and a French speaker are meeting about a business agreement. Everything goes well because the French speaker knows English as well as culture, but the English speaker may not know much on etiquette. The meeting ends as the English speaker touches his first finger and thumb together and puts the last three fingers up showing the "OK" symbol for English speakers. This may have ruined the entire deal because the French speaker may look at it as a large insult. In France, this hand signal means," You mean zero." Whether they find it rude or feel like the English speaker didn't take the time to be serious about even learning French etiquette they may no longer have a business deal simply due to the fact that one of them was ignorant on the other's culture. It's important to know about other cultures not only to ensure they are not being rude, but also because it shows that they put in the effort and take their interaction and business together very seriously.
I believe that is is very important to be aware of your culture when communicating to others. Every society has a norm(s) to follow, and if they are broken, then a person is likely to get shunned in society. When a person makes a mishap like this, he or she may never live it down depending on the country. I would suggest that before anyone goes to another country, so is studying social skills with their own continent, they would definitely need to stay-up-to-date with what is right and wrong, and study what that culture has to offer before going there. This will help in preventing any social flubs from happening to anyone, and make an individual more culturally aware of himself or herself.
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