Avoiding Misunderstanding in Cross-Cultural Communication

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AVOIDING CROSS-CULTURAL MISCOMMUNICATION Abstract International business has been developing fast in the globalization. We can see Chinese businessmen in most of places in the world, from Africa to America, and many


foreign companies are investing in China, vise versa. I, a Vietnamese woman, am working for Korea National Oil Corporation (KNOC) in oil and gas field in Vietnam where lots of foreign oil and gas corporations are operating such as KNOC, Halliburton, Schlumberger, BP, and Premier. The world has become flatter and flatter, more and more people from different countries and different cultures work together, thus how to avoid cross-cultural communication to ensure people understand each other well has become a hot topic.

What are the key elements that define a culture?

Ramsey, (2004) discovered “the culture is the unwritten code of conduct made up of the mores, core values, cherished beliefs, priorities, traditions and informal rules and roles of the organization”, and it “defines what‘s important, what‘s expected, what’s accepted, what’s preferred, what’s tolerated, what‘s rewarded, what’s punished and what’s taboo within the group” (Ramsey, p3, 2004) in which, according to Daniels et al.(2009), “groups based on nationality, ethnicity, religion, gender, work organization, profession, age, political party membership, and income level” (Daniels et al., p94, 2009).

How does a company overcome ethnocentricity?

In order to overcome superior, aggressive, even hostile attitudes and actions toward other cultures(ethnocentrism), a company operating in globalization world should not “draw attention to yourself (the company) and , above all, learn and respect the culture” (Daniels et al., p130, 2009). The management need respect the local specific characteristics, and

AVOIDING CROSS-CULTURAL MISCOMMUNICATION determine suitable principles that should be applied in its overseas branches otherwise force them to follow all current rules and principles which are being used in the home country.


How do values, customs and beliefs, attitudes toward work, leisure, time, change, family, social mobility and religion shape a culture?

As partly mentioned above, the key factors of the culture are the people’s attitudes toward family and work, historical and economical values, traditional and modern customs, cherished beliefs as well as taboo, etc. These factors have shaped and influenced on culture, and made culture to evolve.

Career motivation may decide attitude toward work and working productivity. As we can see, Japanese people with high motivation and devotion to work have been created more and more technologic and economic advances in comparison with Vietnamese ones. The time of off-work of the Japanese is less than in other developed countries as the U.S. where people spend more time to entertaining activities (Daniels et al., p109, 2009). However, the Americans “budget their time as they budget their money”, and “would often rush into a business and their impatience is often exploited, esp. by the Japanese” whose “view time is much more flexible than that of the Americans” (Liangguang, p197, 2010).

Regarding religion, “among people with strong religious convictions, the role of religion in shaping behavior is even stronger” (Daniels et al., p104, 2009). Religion has become another hot topic nowadays since war against Muslim terrors occurred in 2001.

In China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam, family is very important. They respect the family hierarchy and family relatives. Besides career, people in these countries often spend more time to take care their old parents and small children. Besides in China, Daniels et al. (2009) also discovered that, in southern Italy, “the family ties are so strong, there may also be

AVOIDING CROSS-CULTURAL MISCOMMUNICATION a tendency to cooperate more closely within the family unit than in other relationships (Daniels et al., p108, 2009).


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