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Obstacles in achieving efficient cross cultural communication


Effective cross cultural communication is increasingly becoming more important in a business. Employees usually consist of diverse cultures with different backgrounds.  Although all employees need to adhere to the corporate culture in a business (the way things are usually done), a manager needs to have good cross cultural communication skills when it comes to dealing with employees with different cultural backgrounds.  Many managers want to achieve better cultural communication, but still face many barriers.  The following are the most common cross cultural communication barriers many managers still have to overcome in their attempt to communicate better with diverse employees:

Values and attitudes: The manager may have different values than his or her employees or the employees may even have different values and attitudes. At the end of the day it is the task that has to be completed and having different values and attitudes can be overcome if all employees all share a common vision and goals. Employees need to know their own roles in the success of the business and also why the mission and vision of the business are important.

Apprehension: The manager may not have enough knowledge about how to deal with diverse employees in a specific situation.  This may result in misunderstandings and even conflict in the business.  The manager needs to acquire “cultural skills”.

Ignorance:  Managers should never assume that all employees are similar.  Communication should never be offensive to employees of a different cultures because of ignorance.  That is why it is so important that managers should know how employees differ in terms of their own cultures.

Ethnocentrism: This is one of the most important obstacles that hinders effective cultural communication which refers to not appreciating another culture for what it is.  The manager needs to appreciate the different cultures of his or her employees and never judge other cultures because of differences to his or her own culture.  One culture is not superior to another culture and all cultures should be treated equally important.

Stereotyping: Stereotyping can harm cultural communication immensely because of  negative or positive judgments made about employees based on any visible different cultural characteristics.  Even the most harmless events could become a negative experience to employees because of widely held beliefs.

Racism:  The danger of racism or prejudice towards employees because of their race is that it can be conscious or unconscious, intentional or even unintentional.  It is important that a manager who fulfills a leadership position in a business, should never show any intolerance against employees with different cultural backgrounds.

The most important is that a manager should manage cultural diversity in  a business. Also read my post on managing cultural diversity in a business.

Related Post:

How cultural intelligence could benefit diversity

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