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Basic Principles To Aplly In Cross Cultural Communication

2057 words - 9 pages

Phillip W. Balsmeier and Anita K. Heck , 1994 , Cross-cultural Communication , cross cultural management VOLUME 1 NUMBER 2

Basic Principles to Apply in Cross-cultural Communication

By being aware of differences and being sensitive to the needs of people from other cultures, participants in international business meetings and negotiations are better able to concentrate fully on the real issues and improve the probability of success. General principles, which can be applied to improve cross-cultural communication, are presented in the following three sections.

• Conversational Principles
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• First, when conducting business with people from high-context ...view middle of the document...

An attempt to learn some phrases in the language of the host or visitor indicates that some good faith effort has been made to learn about their language, culture and background (Dulek et al., 1991).
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• Americans, for the most part, do not speak or read foreign languages. English is the dominant language spoken in international business and is the second most spoken language in the world. When interacting with people from other countries, Americans heavily rely on the English- speaking abilities of the other parties or on translations provided by interpreters. In either case, the American may be at a disadvantage for several reasons. First, the Americans are unable to understand first-hand sources and, therefore, hear only what the foreign party wants them to hear. Second, when using an interpreter, without understanding at least some of the foreign language, it is not possible to ascertain the quality of the translation, to correct any translation errors or to help if the interpreter encounters a problem. Finally, when one does not understand the language being spoken, it is difficult to comprehend fully the body language of the speaker. For these reasons, it is useful to know the language of the other team, even if you do not use it during negotiations (Aviel, 1990; Barnum and Wolniansky, 1989; Herbig and Kramer, 1992).
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• Fourth, be attuned to messages which your body language and tone of voice may be communicating. Listeners often pay close attention to the body language of the speaker if they are having trouble understanding the language being spoken. Even if they do understand the language, they will look for contradictions between what is being said and how it is being said. If the words and body language of the speaker are not in agreement, the listener will become confused or perceive the speaker as insincere. Tone of voice is also an important factor to consider when communicating internationally. Asians speak very softly. Americans are typically loud and aggressive during negotiations. People from Latin American, Greek, Italian and Central European cultures are louder than Americans and their negotiations are usually accompanied by heated, arm-waving expressions of opinion that are rarely meant personally (Dulek et al., 1991).

Presentation Principles

First, respect the desire of many foreign audiences for formality of presentation. Most other cultures - high-context and low-context - expect formality, and view it as a show of respect to the audience. Americans are accustomed to making presentations seem natural and spontaneous, often writing on blackboards or transparencies during the presentations. Foreign audiences, however, will perceive that the speaker did not consider the presentation important enough to prepare the presentation and visual aids in advance (Dulek et al., 1991).

Second, allow for variances in foreign audience behaviour. Many presenters are caught off guard...

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