The literature brought out by the trade and export federations, embassies and channels like Discovery and Travel & Living regularly feature programs that provide valuable insights into the physical and cultural aspects of various countries across the globe.
These apart, there are people who have already visited those countries or interacted with those people and are familiar with their cultural aspects and can be contacted gainfully. Like any other communication skill, any business communicator can acquire relevant inter-cultural communication skills by accessing available sources.
Before writing, speaking or interacting face to face with people of other countries, it is essential to know some minimum details and especially dos and don’ts, so that the communicator does not offend or hurt the addressee. People from one culture do have a certain tolerance for those who are not very familiar with their culture.
While perfection is not expected, some minimum care should be taken to ensure that sensibilities are not hurt and communication becomes effective. Awareness and sincerity of approach are essential. In sum, while communicating in
inter-cultural context, the following tips would be relevant:
1. Use simple words. Be brief.
2. Talk slowly and clearly.
3. Accentuate spoken words with appropriate gestures.
4. Be conscious of cultural differences.
5. Avoid judgements and generalizations.
6. Do not take things for granted.
7. Be eager to learn and understand.
8. Accept ignorance and be sincere.
9. Be conscious of your body language.
10. Refrain from doing anything hurtful or offensive.
11. Reconfirm that your message is understood.
12. Understand the non-verbal dimensions such as posture, gesture, handshake, timing, space and intimacy.
13. Learn to adopt their communication style in written, spoken and nonverbal communication.
India is increasingly getting integrated with the global economy. Just as people from other countries are coming to work in India, people from India are being called upon to work abroad. Working and communicating in an inter-cultural environment is a necessity and a reality.
Likewise, India has grown into an international hub for outsourcing. Business process outsourcing and call centre businesses are mushrooming and thriving. People working in these organizations have to necessarily speak to and communicate with people in other countries regularly.
Training institutions have also been established, which provide call centre training by introducing American English learning skills through video presentations.
As a part of the training, these organizations also screen foreign films to familiarize the employees with the language, accent and other relevant aspects.
Intra-cultural business environment has given way to a cross- cultural business environment. Mastering of business communication skills, therefore, is not complete until cross-cultural communication skills are acquired.