Usually the problems we experience when working with other cultures relate to communication. Unfortunately, no matter how much we think we know about the other culture, communication problems will persist. What is necessary is clarity, precision, active listening and trust. The qualities that help managers communicating effectively in international business are services that an experienced translation service can provide.
In any conversation, our goal is to influence listeners. Communicating effectively in international business requires that we understand the needs of others and that others understand our requirements. This mutual understanding takes place consciously and unconsciously. When communication is natural, ideas flow freely as we talk, tweet and listen unabatedly. Yet when communication problems arise and emotions enter the equation, we are suddenly aware of our communication inadequacies. When we finally recognize a communication problem, damage has likely already gone beyond repair. Each side tries to avoid fault by blaming the other party. At the same time opposing interests consume resources, intensify emotions and prevent productive, rational problem solving. Eventually, both sides must come together to resolve the problem and identify a better way of communicating.
To avoid conflicts stemming from flawed communication, you need a qualified translation company upfront. Without a certified translator from the outset, by the time a face-to-face meeting is scheduled, your project might already be beyond saving. Because we primarily communicate in international business through e-mail, chat, promotional materials and websites, valuable information like tone of voice, facial expression and body language cannot be conveyed. Video conferencing and teleconferencing also multiply opportunities for misunderstandings.
The daily rigors of an international manager, which include production, logistics, marketing and customer service, demand effective communication. Speaking loudly and more authoritatively generally won’t help others be more receptive to your message. Instead, managers should focus on active listening and creating mutual understandings of all involved in discussions.
Communication is productive when several conditions are met.
1. An open, honest and trusting relationship is established.
2. Participants speak clearly, concisely and confidently about their objections.
3. Participants show respect to others, even in heated disagreements.
4. Participants are competent, active listeners.
Finally, when working with people from different cultures, particularly those who speak English as a second language, it is critical that you respect their social protocols. Aside from extending common pleasantries, you need to embrace fully the other person’s communication style and behavior. At the same time, be honest and open about your own communication practices and preferences.