Issues of Cross-Cultural Communication

Studies are increasingly done on communications between people, people with agents, and agents with agents. This has not been the case in cross-cultural communication, more effort has been put into integrating human interface into agents for faster communication. Some software can adopt many languages, but what remains evident is the fact that these agents cannot predict the form of social interactions, causing barriers to effective cross-cultural communication.

Cultural forms are of the essence in communication, and this calls for its study to bridge the gap. Even people speaking the same language tend to have problems communicating effectively when they come from different cultures (Nantel & Glaser, 2008, p. 112-122). This paper will discuss the significance of verbal communication versus non-verbal communication in relation to issues of cross-cultural communication.

There are numerous cultures across the globe and they have different modes of communication depending on their social adjustments. Effective communication is attained when the two participants are on the same platform or understand both cultures. It is therefore imperative that people study other cultures to effectively contribute to cross-cultural communication. Besides, there are many factors that affect it and issues that may arise from this form of communication. These also depend on the components of communication which can be verbal or non-verbal. The need for cross-cultural study is therefore essential (Reisinger, 2009, 165-198).

Advancement in information technology has set the stage for interaction between varying cultures, and this justifies the need. Another reason that validates this study is the continued globalization which brings cultures more closely.

Social and economic developments slowly bring everyone onboard irrespective of their cultural affiliation. Multinational businesses need to reach out to more market base, this cannot be done without communication which requires study of the various cultures. Moreover, software used as agents or user interfaces that help in advertising and information transfer must be designed based on the culture of the targeted society to effectively execute its tasks. No wonder, most universities have incorporated cross-cultural learning in their programs to harness effective communication (Ferraro, 2010, p. 7).

Verbal communication involves the exchange of words either in written or spoken form. Advantages of verbal communication tackle various factors such as speed and feedback among others. Verbal communications are fast and the feedback is instant. When there is an interaction between the participants then it is called face-to-face, it can also be on through a medium like a telephone line. Dialogue between people from different cultures is quite interesting; they may think they are on the same page but end up misunderstanding one another (Reisinger, 2009, 165-198). This is because some words may be pronounced in the same manner but differ in their meanings.

An example is Japanese talking to an American; the latter will refer to a foolish thing as stupid while Japanese would most likely refer to it as funny. This would create misunderstanding. The use of expressions and body language during an interaction is very important in conveying your message in verbal communication; this can help someone of a different culture to understand you better. Any misunderstanding between the participants can be resolved as they are both present; it also saves time as there is a response to every question.

Nonverbal communication is that kind that does not involve the use of speech. These can be in writings, or signals that do not give spoken understandable words. They are usually time-consuming, like in letters, and rarely direct to the point for instance in the use of signals. Its advantage lies in writings that can be kept as evidence in the future which is not the case in verbal communication. Cross-cultural non-verbal communication is quite difficult, this is because some words have different meanings in different cultures, and this can bring conflict especially if someone does not understand the other’s culture. Signals and symbols also convey different meanings in various cultures; it can be offensive in case one uses a taboo sign or symbol in another culture (Reisinger, 2009, 165-198).

Cross-cultural issues are quite rampant and should be controlled; this can only be successful by studying other people’s cultures. Effective communication needs an understanding of one’s background. Issues that arise in cross-cultural communication are misunderstanding due to assumption; the native speaker assumes the other comprehend his/her background knowledge which may not be true (Sebenius 2002, p. 76-85).

Some cultures are more inclined to indirection than the others, an example is Japanese, and this brings misunderstanding especially when they speak to Americans who are more direct; they tend to use euphemism or leave the important part of their speech for interpretation by the listener while Americans go straight (Reisinger, 2009, 165-198).

Another difference that brings problems is the fact that they are always reluctant to say ‘no’ as they presume it as impolite which is the opposite in America where you get it in black and white. Status of friendship is also conveyed in some cultures as a result of the form of communication if one is invited, he feels closer than when written to, while in some cultures when invited, one is never comfortable as he/her may think it is a trick to expose him/her.

Asians see direct talk as rude, while Americans see soft talk as being dishonest or unreliable. These are issues that affect cross-cultural communication (Sriussadaporn 2006, p.330-344). Of the components of communication, verbal looks more convincing in ensuring effective cross-cultural communication, but this requires one to understand the other’s background. However, Software with social intelligence that incorporates the cultural effects can be developed to bridge this gap although, this is less likely to impact the overall cross-cultural communication as most people will not depend on the devices to communicate.

It is therefore essential for people to learn about other cultures to effectively improve their communication with foreigners. Verbal communication still seems the better of the two as any misunderstanding can be resolved, and it helps expose the other’s social alignment leading to a better understanding. More interactions of cross-cultures should therefore be encouraged to improve on communication (Foong & Richardson, 2008, p. 221-243).

Effective communication can be achieved through interaction and learning of the other’s cultural background. Verbal communication is essential in this interaction and proves sufficient in cementing better cross-cultural understanding. Non-verbal communication on the other hand is more ambiguous as it does not give direct points and does little to enhance cross-cultural learning. Socially intelligent software should incorporate more cultural platforms to enhance effective cross-cultural communication. In addition, more effort should be placed on promoting cross-cultural studies in the various institutions to keep with the pace of globalization (Reisinger, 2009, 165-198).

Reference List

Ferraro, G. P., 2010, The Cultural Dimension of International Business, 6th edn, Pearson Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey.

Foong, Y.P. & Richardson, S., 2008, ‘The perceptions of Malaysians in a Japanese company’, Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal, vol. 15, no. 3, pp. 221-243.

Nantel, J. & Glaser, E 2008, ‘The impact of language and culture on perceived website usability’, Journal of Engineering Technology Management, vol. 25, no. 1-2, pp. 112–122.

Reisinger, Y., 2009., ‘Cultural Influences on Intercultural Communication’, in International Tourism: Cultures and Behaviour, Butterworth-Heinemann, Jordan Hill, Oxford, United Kingdom, Chapter 7, pp. 165-198.

Sebenius, J. K., 2002, ‘The Hidden Challenges of Cross-border Negotiations’, Harvard Business Review, vol. 80, no. 3, pp. 76-85.

Sriussadaporn, R., 2006, ‘Managing international business communication problems at work: a pilot study in foreign companies in Thailand ‘, Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal, vol. 13, no. 4, pp. 330-344.

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