Cross Culture Communications

Meaning of Cross Culture Communications

Cross culture communication is a process of sending and receiving messages between people, from different cultures. This communication is largely affected by cultural differences and language equivalency. Naturally, cross culture communication involves understanding cultural differences and overcoming language problems.

Culture may be defined as the way of life of people living in s society and it includes a vast array of human behaviors and beliefs. The major element of culture is values, norms, language, symbols, and knowledge. It is a shared system values, attitudes, symbols for behavior. We learn culture directly and indirectly from the members of our groups. As we grow, we are taught who we are and how best to behave in that culture.

Characteristics of Culture:

Learning of culture starts in our childhood, so it is shaped by attitudes learned in childhood and internalized in adulthood. Some basic characteristics of culture are as follows:

  • Cultures are Learned
  • Cultures are Inherently Logical
  • Culture is Basis of Self-Identity and Community
  • Culture Combines the Visible and Invisible
  • Culture is Dynamic

Cultures are learned:

Cultures are not inherent. They are learned. Rules, values, and attitudes of cultures are learned and passed down from generation to generation. They are learned from family and society in which you live and grow.

Cultures are inherently logical:

All serious rules and values originate in deep seated beliefs. The rules developed in any culture reinforce that cultures values and beliefs.

Culture is Basis of Self-Identity and Community:

Culture acts as the basis for our expression style, for our life style and identity, and for our beliefs and community. As for instance we have so many choices, choice in education, choice in life partner, etc. We find that every choice is impacted by a set of rules, manners, ceremonies, beliefs, values and language. Thus cultures determine our sense of choice. Our sense regarding, who we are.

Culture Combines the Visible and Invisible:

Culture combines visible and invisible behaviors. When we do something, the way of doing is visible. But there may be some invisible parts of our culture also.

Culture is Dynamic:

Culture is dynamic, it’s not static. It changes over time. Communication and technological advancement bring about changes in cultures, attitudes, beliefs and behaviors element of culture. Also change as a result of migration, natural disasters and wars. These elements of culture change more quickly in open society than in closed society.

The culture of an organization is its values, attitudes and philosophies. The culture of an organization is made by the people who set up the organization and who change the organization.

Importance of Culture in International Communication:

Culture is very important for international communication. When communication will involve people from different cultures with different backgrounds, it’s becomes more challenging.

Rapidly technological development, business is becoming more international and more challenging. International business cannot be carried on without international communication. An often quoted saying is that you can buy in your native language anywhere in the world, but you sell only in the language of the local community. There prevail multicultural environments in any multinational company with a diverse workforce. Working in any foreign based multinationals, typically requires learning to communicate within the context of the culture that foreign managers bring with them.

A basic problem in international communication is that people from different cultures may not view the same situation in the same way. This is because they have different habits, different values and different ways of realizing one another. As a result, react differently. How cultural differences affect communication. For example, you want to communicate with someone in another culture; you encode your message using the assumptions of your own culture. But when the receiver of your message decodes it, he/she will do it according to the assumptions of his/her culture, so the receiver may misunderstand your meaning.

Problem of Cross cultural Communication:

Understanding how culture creates problems to effective communication and knowing how to break down these barriers are keys to success in the modern world in global economy.

#Problems of Cultural Differences:

Four main types of cultural differences are identified;

  • Contextual
  • Ethical
  • Social
  • Nonverbal  

Contextual Differences: Contextual meaning varies from culture to culture. An anthropologist and authority on cross cultural communication, divides culture into two basic types: Low context, and High context.

In a low context culture, people depend more on verbal communication and less on environmental setting and nonverbal cues to convey their meaning.  In the low context culture everything is spelled out through explicit statement.

In the high context culture on the other hand, people rely less on verbal communication and more on the context of nonverbal actions and environmental setting to convey their meaning.

Ethical Differences:

Legal and ethical behavior also varies from culture to culture. In the US and in the UK, someone is presumed to be innocent until he/she is proved guilty. But in Mexico and Turkey, someone is presumed guilty until he/she is proved innocent.

Social Differences:

Culture is not uniform in all cultures. People in high context cultures place more emphasis on formality and proper etiquette in both personal and written communication. Rules of social etiquette may be formal and informal. Formal rules are explicit and well defined, but informal rules are learned through observation and imitation. Informal rules are easily noticed in the attitudes of people toward materialism, in the way how people recognize status, define manners and think about time. 

Nonverbal Differences:

Nonverbal is the tools used for nonverbal communication particularly in visiting countries are differently interpreted in different cultures. Nonverbal elements are apparent in attitudes toward time, personal space and in body language.