The ideas that we value, believe and support are molded by our culture. Communicating with people from different cultures often creates communication and relationship challenges. In order to be successful in international business, we need to understand other cultures by developing intercultural competence.
Intercultural competence is the skill necessary to communicate sensitively and effectively with people from diverse cultures and countries. The best cross-cultural communicators share these intercultural competencies:
■ Flexibility and adaptability
■ Knowledge and respect for the values, ideas and beliefs of other cultures
■ Sensitivities to cultural, linguistic and socioeconomic differences
■ Business and social etiquette
Understanding the intricacies and nuances of your own culture is an important first step in understanding other cultures. Next, it is important to understand and recognize that different groups of people may follow different rituals, share different beliefs and conduct themselves in manners that seem very foreign to you. Also, while people from different cultures may seem very different to you, it’s important to refrain from stereotyping. Stereotyping is a process of creating an oversimplified concept of a particular group of people. Instead of stereotyping, you should realize that culture is composed of intelligence collected over long period of time and handed down from one generation to the next.
Misunderstandings sometimes occur when people from two or more countries or cultures communicate. Having some basic knowledge about the other cultures, countries and languages can help you better interpret non-verbal cues and build goodwill.
Addressing Cultural Needs
As businesses expand internationally, they have identified the importance of creating solutions that meet the requirements and expectations of local markets. The failure to address local cultures can be devastating. Aside from customizing products and services for different cultures, companies also need to provide professional translations of communication into the local languages and dialects.
The attached infographic provides detailed descriptions of the characteristics and dimensions of culture. Reviewing these wil help you better understand your own culture and the culture of other people.