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Intercultural competence as a measure to overcome barriers

1. What is the advantage of cross cultural communication (CCC) for business?

2. According to the author, what are some of the measures to overcome the barriers to cross cultural communication?

3. What does the author mean by ‘low context’ and ‘high context’ cultures? Is Australia low or high context?

4. What does the author mean by ‘Stereotyping is an extension of ethnocentrism’? (p23)

5. The author argues that 'Focus should be placed on using individual differences'. Why do you think this approach might be more effective than ‘promoting cultural adaptation’?

6. How does the author define ‘culture’ and explain why is it difficult to separate from his/her professional career (p20)

7. Compare and contrast the communication styles of your home country and Australia. How do they differ? Are there similarities

8. Explain what is means by “ individual member of a group embodies all of his or her group’s characteristics”?

9. Give examples of how Australians stereotype people from your country, and how people from your country stereotype Australians. Do you think these stereotypes are accurate?

10. Give an example of how cultural difference might lead to misunderstanding. How could this have a negative effect on business?

1.Cross cultural communication is defined as the act of negotiating the cultural differences through languages, gestures and formal relationships (Thomas & Peterson, 2017). This concept is vital for companies operating on a global basis and involving workers from all ethnic origins. For business, the communication between different employees and between managerial posts and grass root level is of prime importance. Companies with low level of inter cultural communications hinder the company’s effective operation as the mingling of the employees becomes a big hurdle that ultimately affects the company’s profitability in the end. The business organizations involved in effective cross-cultural communications can focus more on the production of new products that can be beneficial in the competitive background. It is important to differentiate the products from their rival products through the means of communication. Competitive advantage is there for the brands that has better communication skills as that makes the brand spend more time on innovation and less on internal communication (Wagner III & Hollenbeck, 2014). It is also essential for people to express themselves and fulfil their elemental needs and demands. Without the element of good communication skill between different employees from different cultures, there will be a chaos that will ultimately malign the reputation of the company. Good cross-cultural communication is also required for better understanding of the internal organization leaving behind the prejudices one has. It also enhances the cultural growth of a company and help to spread it to different parts of the world possessing various cultures. It also helps to establish a certain product to a specific part of the globe as the company has an idea about the cultural norms of the place and the product can be tailor made for that specific region.

Differences between low and high context cultures

2.Cross-cultural communication is one of the vital aspects of establishing a successful business organization but that also makes it prone to a number of hindrances which has to be crossed using some measures. There are a number of measures that help corporations to overcome the barriers of cross-cultural communication. One of the primary measures is to increase the level of intercultural competence, which is defined as the capability to engage in a set of actions that is based on the concepts of common communications (Chamorro-Premuzic & Furnham, 2014). The factors of knowledge, skill and attitude help in emphasizing the knowledge. The ability of the people to respect and appreciate the cultural diversifications of people hailing from different ethnic background can clear the confusions regarding to cross cultural communications. The knowledge, skills, intellectuality of a person increases when inter cultural communication is done on a pivotal basis. This makes the better retention of the person for a prolonged period of time. The dignified treatment of the culture, ethos and skills of others and treating everyone with equality and in the use of emphatic language helps the employees to overcome the barriers. Even meetings with people from different ethnic origins help to overcome the problem. Trainings and development sessions should be conducted regularly to get an idea about the new cultural additions of a company and how those additions can benefits the workings of the brand in bringing productivity and knowledge (Elnaga & Imran, 2013). Workshops and techniques exchange should be made compulsory among the employees that will enable them to communicate more with each other breaking the barrier of communication between them. Even the employees should be taught to mediate the cultural differences through conversations.

3.A low context culture boosts direct explanation of ideas in which an employee can be upright in their approach in assessment of situations during practical work life. Managers working in such type of low context cultures can be straightforward and blunt in their comments and reviews, which is not wrapped up in hidden meanings and symbols. The meanings of the conversations of this type of culture is universal in nature and easy to understand by all the employees due to the loud and blunt nature of the message (Moran, Abramson & Moran, 2014). Employees find it easy to communicate in a low context environment where expressions can be easily gripped

High context culture defines a society that is interdependent on one another. The messages and communications done in this type of culture contains a number of meanings and have different interpretations for different people. This type of communications do not contain a universal meaning and can be of different context for different people due to the different body languages used (Samovar et al. 2014). This type of communications involve hidden meanings in them which is not easy to understand by the employees as the messages does not have an explicit overtone.

Impact of ethnocentrism and stereotyping on communication

Although multinational companies are inclining towards the low context culture in their operations in order to save their precious time and complying with the fast change in the nature of business enterprise, Oriental cultures like Australia are involving high context culture in their communications. The communications involved in these countries have interspersed with implicit messages with hidden meanings that are expressed through their body languages.    

4.Ethnocentrism is the concept that refers to the superior feeling that is embedded in the members of a specific culture (Booth, 2014). Each culture has the habit of considering its own culture and vision as superior compared to the other cultures. Even, the cultures tend to interpret the standpoint of the other culture and ideas from their own vision making views about it without any proper knowledge of their own specifications. Stereotyping means to hold a particular view or opinion about a particular individual group or individual based on our previous experiences regarding that group that we have either seen or learnt. Based on the nature of stereotyping of different things, it is seen that people tend to categorize people and their views based on their ideas and conceptions. However, to live in a civilized world that is an amalgamation of different cultures with their own standpoints, one needs to get hold of different views and consider different perspectives regarding the same. Stereotyping does not develop within a single night but because of the effects of culture and views over a particular association for over a period with the perspectives of their own cultures, in short, ethnocentrism (Bar-Tal et al. 2013).

5.Employees working in a multinational organization has different ethnic backgrounds to them and they hail with different ideologies and style of working (Dalal, 2013). When a business is operating on a global platform with workers coming from different cultural backgrounds, communication among them becomes of utmost necessity. Individual differences should be considered while working with them and instead of trying to adapt them to the same cultural views (Dahling & Johnson, 2013). Communication with different cultures help combining all the desirable qualities and values in a particular business organizations making the organization profitable and having a good organizational culture in the end. Employees are always expected to follow a certain code of conduct in a particular organization to make the workings of the place coordinated but when individual differences are considered and promoted, the employees get motivated to follow their style which enables them to work in a more effective way. Promoting individual differences also enables the parties to gain knowledge from each other regarding all the departments. This enables the employees to adapt to the culture of the organization in a better way retaining their individuality throughout the process.

Recognizing individual differences

6.According to the author, culture is defined as a component and ability of a specific group of people in terms of language, cuisine, music, arts and religion. Other facets including system of value, believes and materialistic products are also a part of culture in which people born and live for a considerable period (Sahlins, 2013). It is an integral part of the life of any human being on Earth as most of them living in a civilized society adheres to a specific cultural genre.

Organizations operating on a global basis with a varied employee strata coming from different cultural origins witness a number of communication barriers at their workplaces that they must be aware of. Workers coming from different backgrounds and functioning at the same organization show a number of variations in their values and beliefs. Beliefs are a major part of a culture that is reflected in the stories that evaluate the intuitiveness about their feelings and behaviour. Value of a particular person is also determined by the culture from which that person hails that are based on believes and behaviours on certain qualities like honesty, openness and integrity. Materialistic components like food and clothing are also determinants of culture. The importance of culture thus gives people a cognitive framework to understand the world and operate in it (Pedersen, 2013). Relationships between man and nature are also determined by culture that decides the conscious and sub-conscious view of the reality. Contexts for communication are also provided by culture, which along with the other points mentioned above makes, it difficult to separate culture from his/her professional career.

7.Australia, being a polyglot nation has more than 100 languages spoken by its inhabitants with English being the official and most spoken language. The communicating style of Australians is blunt and upright with the lack of diplomacy. The failure to say things directly creates a negative impact on the people and are even paired as hypocrisy. The style of communication is quite informal in Australia when compared to the other parts of the world with humour used in most of the times including business purposes (Froehlich, Segers & Van den Bossche, 2014) . Self-promotion is termed as bragging that creates a heavily bad impact on the minds of the people and can provoke discrimination. On the other hand, India has a number of spoken and written languages, which is evident in the fact that India has 15 official language, one of them being English. The educated people speak it and this is the mode of communication in the corporate world. Indian communication system is marred with diplomacy and their uncertain answers always accounts for negative. Excessive blunt and direct remarks can hamper the reputation of the person in the society (Datta-Ray, 2015). Bragging is very common among the people and showing off to the other person is normal in Indian communicating system. Humour is present in Indian communication but it is limited to informal conversations and no business house will allow such language and communication.

Importance of culture in communication

There are a number of differences in the Indian and Australian communicating system including the approach to communicate with people and to boast about their belongings. Humour is another important factor that differentiates these two systems of communication from each other.

In case of similarities, both the places have a number of spoken and written language that make the place diversified in culture and language front. English is the common official language for both the nations.

8.One of the basic human natures that hamper our cross culture communication understanding is the act of stereotyping individuals based on certain characteristics of their community. Individuals tend to categorize people in accordance to their own beliefs and values that is based mostly on group characters and not individual identities. In order to overcome the problem of oversimplification and stereotyping, comparisons between groups should be done based on both similarities and dissimilarities (Bennion et al. 2013). Nevertheless, no individual member of a community embodies all the characteristics of a particular group. Every human being has certain sets of characteristics that are different from the characteristics of the community that make the person an individual in its own terms. However, when a group on a particular member does stereotyping, those individual characteristics are not noted and that person is only decided and evaluated on an overall characteristic of their community (Hamilton, 2015). When a person or a group is contrasted based on both the characters of similarity and dissimilarities, which can lead to interminable differences, promotion of the concept of different entities or otherness is conceived and can lead to basic opinions on stereotyping

9.India and Australia both have a string of stigma and stereotype thoughts about each other. According to the Australian people, Indian is a land of culture and temples that places religion on the upper front for all the people. It is always showcased as a country that is poverty-stricken and lacks the basic amenities of livelihood that is because of a number of films made on Indian slums and poverty at the international level (Cohn, 2017). Australian people know only the major cities of India in which they travel. They consider the place quite unsafe for women for all the reports regarding the lack of safety of international tourists and so they hesitate to travel except The Taj Mahal. According to Indians, Australians are famous for their aggressive nature and wildlife attractions. Racism is quite an important aspect of Australian culture that is evident in their discriminating attitude towards every dark individual. Australians have an affinity for alcoholic drinks and use swear words in their daily routine (Turner, Fiske & Hodge, 2016). They have a very liberal society in which both male and female are equal in every respect.

These stereotypes are not real at every phase though they have some authenticity to the claims. India places religion above all and has numerous temples in the Indian land. Australia promotes racism and discrimination among its own inhabitants and have an affinity for alcoholic beverages. The stigmas and stereotype thoughts prevailing in the minds of both Australian and Indian minds are not fully correct still have some elements of truth in them making these thoughts somewhat accurate, though not fully. 

10.In the face of globalization, multinational companies are continuously recruiting employees from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds that can lead to a high-level misunderstanding, if communication is not done on a proper basis (Wynne, 2016). Communication is an extremely important aspect of cross-cultural mingling that can effectively increase their involvement in different cultures. Lack of cultural mingling can result in misinterpretations even if language barrier is not present.

There are ample examples that state the disastrous effects of lack of cross cultural communications on business enterprises. In order to create a niche in global market, the companies must have an idea on the impact of globalization on cross-cultural communication. The imperative need to develop an Internal Communication capacity in order to monitor the external peril is focussed in recent economic researches. Businesses operating on a global basis must acknowledge the need to communicate with their employees and clients from different ethnic origins. Technological advancements do play a pivotal role in global communication and marketing of the product and services (Quirke, 2017). However, technology should not be given the sole responsibility in minimizing the communication gap and human intervention should be a part of the process as well. The only way to lessen the distance between the employees from different backgrounds is to know their listening, speaking and seeking help powers, not only memorising cultural implication of every culture.


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