5 Tips for International Communication

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Cultural Intelligence > Best Practices > 5 Tips for International Communication

5 Tips for International Communication
John D. Astor, Coach, United States, Member
In conducting business, cultural missteps can ruin a good opportunity. As the world shrinks and we work closer and closer together, accepting and understanding each other becomes more essential every day.
Communicating with clarity and purpose leads to success. And in our global world it becomes more perilous for business people to make costly mistakes that can ruin a relationship and can be avoided.

For organizations, large and small, having the ability to grow geographically can bring many benefits - if they can transcend cultural differences. We don't need a cultural anthropologist or even a psychiatrist. But what we do need is a universal method for interacting free of bias and prejudice and inclusive of grown differences.
By considering basic behavior, we can observe distinctions in each culture. But are there some common traits that we can use with everyone?

First consider what Ralph Tashjian, CEO of SMC Records in San Francisco says about making agreements abroad: "When I go to Europe to develop contacts and make deals, I am very restrained with my normal personality style. I react carefully and with great care to show respect. I also speak very clearly and precisely so I'm not to be misunderstood".
Examining Mr. Tashjian's articulate observations, there are 5 communication behaviors that everyone working in an international setting can benefit from:
  1. BE CAUTIOUS WITH BEHAVIOR. You have developed your behaviors in a certain region with certain people. Many mannerisms and gestures will not be understood. Watch others carefully and try to adapt for better communication. Don't speak in idioms and colloquial terms. Be sure to communicate in ways that will be understood.
  2. REACT CAREFULLY. Your spontaneous reactions are usually conditional responses that are based on your place of origin. You will be much better off pausing before reacting when you feel one of your buttons being pushed. Many times the impulse to react is misjudged when seen in retrospect.
  3. SHOW RESPECT. We respect others when we reach for understanding and listen very attentively. Try to grasp the meaning behind their words and body language. If you don't understand something, ask politely and without being patronizing.
  4. SPEAK CLEARLY. Remember your best teachers. Speak in a way that transmits the message without extensive use of tangent conversations, and above all keep your objectives in mind.
  5. BE UNDERSTOOD. Take the time to ask if you're getting your point across. If not, be prepared to phrase your words differently. Be able to break your message down to simple words, if necessary.
Whether you're having a meeting, a business lunch or a quick coffee with someone from another culture, you will benefit greatly if you follow above five simple steps. I am looking forward to your experiences.

Excellent Tips for International Communication
John Prendergast, Management Consultant, United Kingdom, Member
I totally agree with the 5 behaviors mentioned, particularly on first meetings, due to history many countries carry a "stereotype identity" and you must overcome that negative expectation by having these points on your mental billboard.

How to Prepare for International Communication
Helen Strong, Business Consultant, South Africa, Member
I believe that it is wise to do some basic research before going on an international trip. Maybe speak to consultants or advertising agencies that operate internationally (and in the specific country). They will know the culture and absolute no-noes for first meetings. They will have tips for good practice. There are also a number of case histories on the web that illustrate the type of problems that arise with (for example) brand names and colours.

Steps in International Communication
Veronika, Project Manager, Czech Republic, Member
I can say from my daily work that:
1st you should LISTEN,
2nd you should USE YOUR COMMON SENSE,
3rd REPEAT ALL CONTEXT just for clarification and be sure that both sides see the same target, vision, whatever...
And also be human...

Aspects of International Communication
Barry, Consultant, Nigeria, Member
Intercultural communication is pivotal to business success. The use of your tone of voice, gestures, facial expression, body language and polite expression can enable you communicate more effectively across cultures.

Regional Communication Differences
ernest agbenohevi, Consultant, Ghana, Member
Regions, metropolitan areas and communities also show important attributes that characterize them, such as accepted norms, behaviours, customes, practices, etc.
Like countries, peculiar behaviors characterize regions, largely influenced by predominant climatic factors, environmental factors, and population dynamics (changes) which vary from one location to the other.

Prepare your Ideas for International Communication
Geoff Upton, Management Consultant, Australia, Member
The five tips are very useful cross cultural points.
I find it helpful to plan to be able to express my ideas in several different ways if I discern a lack of understanding.
I also find that material prepared when I am in my home country context can look very different when I am in situ in another cultural context requiring the flexibility to once more rethink and rephrase the points I want to be understood.

Careful with Jokes in International Communication
Ogechukwu Patrick, Entrepreneur, Nigeria, Member
I totally agree with these 5 steps.
For example, what may serve as a joke in the eastern part of my country maybe not be funny or maybe misunderstood in the northern part of the same country. So be somewhat restrained on your normal personality style of communication until you're able to adjust and find out how to relate with the people you traveled to meet..

Mirror your Host as Far as Possible
Kelvin H Mwiinga, Student (MBA), Zambia, Member
We are different people but might have the desire to exchange values, i.e. trade.
Best you first observe what the natives do, adjust within your ability, mirroring and matching behavior you see and showing you stand to be corrected. Better still take a leave and learn from those who have been there before.
There are so many things that can go wrong like food, dress, tone, eye contact, hand shakes etc.

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