Does communication travel?

Does communication travel?


Multinationals have to communicate across the globe with dispersed team and smaller operations including many
consultancies work in alliances and partnerships across different markets. Victoria Secrets from the USA or Marks & Spencer from the UK have manufacturing arrangements with Sri Lanka; financial operations in Western Europe are increasingly moving call centres to India and Pakistan.

Not only will the ~ not invented here syndrome ~ come into to play alongside language but so too will the cultural differences, so slight and subtle that having a qualification in a second language may not actually help too much. To get key communications right on target
the deep grasp of idiosyncrasies is often only appreciated by a native person living in that country at that time.

There are plenty of examples of the wide gulf of understanding between America and the UK, even though in theory we both speak the same langauge, and there are the classic and expensive errors of not allowing for multiple languages in one location, like the Vauxhall Nova car; No Va meaning No Go to Latin speakers.

But it is often the cultural differences that cause the problem rather than the language itself.

  • Whether it is possible to give open feedback to colleagues, or
  • Permissible to ask a senior people a question,
  • The length of time required for social preliminaries before starting the main conversation.

These are often the critical areas that require special thought to ensure your communication can travel, let alone whether the space require for German or Mandarin text is different from English...

How do you achieve consistency in the face of all this diversity?

I would appreciate if you could consider the factors listed below and add some thoughts of your own...

Some key factors to consider with international communication

  • Time zones ~ do everyone is at the best at the same time
  • Language ~ 1st or 2nd language does make a difference to the exchange of meaning
  • Cultural practices ~ it is not what you do it is the way that you do it, each culture views things slightly differently
  • Courtesy ~ Respect is important to almost every culture and is shown in different ways
  • Pleasantries ~ At least make the effort to learn the basics greetings and use them
  • Humour ~ does NOT travel well, avoid as best you can
  • Tone ~ Voice tone and intonation changes meaning, use locals whenever possible

Let me know your experiences...

Leave a comment...

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