What Message are you sending?
If you’re like me, you have been a witness to numerous breakdowns of communication. Typically, communication breakdowns are the cause of a downward spiral in the organization. With a diverse group of cultures this breakdown could occur even greater. We need to communicate better. I was recently told of a scenario that the other managers kept a change in operations from me because they didn’t want to get me upset. Well, as you could imagine when I found out I was even more agitated. Think about the outcome of this event if it occurred across the Country or another culture.
Communication is a process. As with any process if a step is not performed, the entire process will have a negative conclusion. Take your car for instance if you miss the step of putting fuel in the tank the vehicle will not operate. Communication is a process of circular interaction involving a sender, receiver, and message (Moran, Abramson, Moron, 2014, p. 38). I recall playing a game in elementary school over 30 years ago where a person would say something and you would have to pass that message on to the entire class. Well by the time that message got to the end it was different. These minor breakdowns in the communication process cause large breakdowns in the workplace including when dealing with other cultures which may not communicate in the same way.
We can take the steps we use to communicate with other cultures to communicate better in daily communications as well. A cross-cultural faux pas results when we fail to recognize that persons of other cultural backgrounds have certain goals, customs, thought patterns, and/or values different from our own (Moran, Abramson, Moron, 2014, p. 37). Think about that statement. Doesn’t this occur in most of our communication breakdowns not involving different cultures too? If we use communication working together with others in mind our messages will have less chance of confusion and breakdowns. I have learned that everyone has a different view and just because their ways may be different doesn’t mean they are wrong. If we combine strengths we will have better communication as well as a greater outcome.
Cultural communication breakdowns do not only occur in the workplace. My community like many others is seeing a change in cultures. Our community leaders do not understand these changing cultures. All too often we see leaders that are very stuck in their ways that they refuse to change. These blinders have an impact on the entire process. Community leaders need to work with the entire community including the new cultures. Failing to understand predominant values within a society as well as failing to concede that an individual person has a particular set of beliefs will both lead to poor communication (Moran, Abramson, Moron, 2014, p. 41).
In conclusion, think about what your messages send. Keep an open mind to other cultures. Cultural communication may appear to be different but this difference is what keeps us moving forward in a diverse way.
Moran, R. T., Abramson, N. R., Moran, S. V., & Harris, P. R. (2014). Managing cultural differences. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.