Communication Blunders in the Global Business World

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In the global business world, there are an unlimited number of opportunities to make embarrassing and sometimes costly communication mistakes. These barriers to effective language often create challenges for buyers and sellers. For example, communications between foreign parties to a business transaction can be incorrectly translated by an unqualified translation services company. Alternatively, culturally inappropriate mediums can be used and regulation can be overlooked or unachievable expectations might be had. At other times, a message may never be communicated due to an unreliable postal delivery service or the message might not convey the intended meaning.

Non-Verbal Communication Challenges

Communication challenges can result from a wide variety of situations and can take an unlimited number of forms. When encountering people from different cultures, and sometimes even the same culture, non-verbal communication problems can arise. For example, either too much or too little eye contact or physical touching can leave people feeling uneasy which in turn has made verbal communication difficult. The space between two people can also cause one to feel uncomfortable. Not being able to respect a person’s space or comfort zone can leave a person feeling that you are being too aggressive, cold, distrustful or even hostile, which can also prevent effective communication and hinder a relationship.

Each culture uses body movements as a unique form of communication. Therefore, it is likely that the movements and non-verbal expressions of one culture can be interpreted completely different in another language. As an example, the OK sign that is used in North America signifies zero in France, money in Japan. However, in Brazil, the OK sign is equivalent to giving someone the middle finger in the United States. Similarly, it is unacceptable in many cultures in India, Sri Lanka, Africa and the whole of the Middle East to shake hands using your left hand or eat using your left hand. In those countries, the left hand is reserved for unsanitary activities.

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More Causes of Communication Blunders

Other examples of common miscommunication include headshakes. In some cultures, moving your head up and down indicates that you agree, but in others it might only signify that they understand or acknowledge what you are saying. A person may indicate disagreement by moving their head from left to right, but in the Middle East, it is more common to wave a hand in front of the face and in Ethiopia, people shake their finger from side to side. Oddly, the gesture used in the U.S. that mean to slit a throat means love in Switzerland. These are just a few examples of difference in non-verbal communication between cultures that can cause either embarrassing encounters or serious misunderstandings.

Lack of knowledge to verbal and non-verbal forms of communication and the use of an unqualified legal translator has created countless examples of business and social blunders. Often, people will overlook the more common mistakes that tourists tend to make. However, mistakes in business and advertising can project unprofessionalism. Therefore, extra steps should be taken to ensure business communication is accurate.

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