This is Day 4 of the 30-day challenge to focus on your personal development in cross-cultural communication. Each day there is one short topic to reflect on.
Day 4 – Communication Skills for Cross-Cultural Competence
We previously talked about:
- How your own mindset and where you begin your cross-cultural communication is important
- How curiosity is the key to beginning cross-cultural communication
- How empathy is the foundation of all cultural skills
And before we go any further we must look at the subject of cross-cultural competence right in the face. You need to have good communication skills for cross-cultural competence. The stronger your communication skills the more competent you will become in international business. You own communication skills are the tools you use for communicating effectively across cultures.
Communication To Connect Across Cultures
There is no universal ideal way to communicate. Our communication style depends on may different factors: our culture, education, personality to name a few. We can all become good at cross-cultural communication. The key to do this is be aware of:
- The different levels of communication
In cross-cultural communication we tend to focus on the language, but don’t forget that communication is much more than just language. Becoming competent in cross-cultural skills involves becoming proficient in listening, reading and communicating on all of the different levels of communication. This is why communication skills are so important. Because there are many different communication skills.
Steps Towards Developing Good Cross-Cultural Communication Skills
Here are some practical steps to take to improve your communication skills.
First, remember that although you do not feel “weird” in any way, you will appear “different” to other cultures. So pay attention to your own communication and pay special attention to:
- Clarity in what you communicate
- Consistency in what you communicate
Next, begin slowly by paying attention to different aspects of the communication:
- Body language
- What is said
- What is not said
- How things are said
- When things are said
- Who says what
Learning how to filter all of this information at once and make sense of it takes experience. Learning exactly what to pay attention to also takes experience. The main takeaway here is to know that you need to look for communication on many different levels.
Good Communication Skills
There are many great benefits for people who take the time to improve their communication skills. Good communication impacts just about all aspects of our lives. For us here it:
- Improves all aspects of international business
- Improves cross-cultural communication
- Avoids cross-cultural blunders
Main Cross-Cultural Communication Challenges
For beginners the main challenges to improve your cross-cultural communication skills are when you:
- Are unaware of obvious communication difficulties
- Assume others understand you perfectly.. and continue
- Make wrong assumptions
- Do not take the time to open your ears and listen – hint curiosity helps you here too
Always Verify Understanding
There is a simple trick to help you as you become more skilled in cross-cultural communication
- Regularly verify mutual understanding
Now sometimes people get over zealous with this. You don’t want to appear too fearful and raise any doubts about anyone’s communication abililties. There is a skill in making this seem natural. If you listen well enough you will know when it is wise to double check everyone has the same understanding.
And remember the same words spoken by two people does not mean they have the same understanding.
Your Actions Today
Here are a few tips to start with:
- Take things slowly – find the right sequence for your communication
- Ask questions
- Ask questions when something seem slightly odd
- Summarize your understanding at regular intervals and ask if this is right.
What do you think? Please share your thoughts and comments below.
Photos from Shutterstock.
Filed under: Cross-Cultural Communication
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