Communicating in a World of Diversity

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CHAPTER 3: COMMUNICATING in a world of diversity

TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE

1. Market globalization now allows companies to sell and produce goods all over the world. Globalization has increased business’s exposure to cultural diversity, which means that more businesspeople interact with co-workers, customers, suppliers, and others from a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. As a result of these two trends, communicators must be more aware of cultural differences when communicating with contacts inside and outside the organization.

2. The potential advantages of a diverse workforce include a broader range of viewpoints and ideas, improved ability to understand and identify with diverse markets, and the opportunity to tap into the broadest possible pool of talent.

3. In high-context cultures, people convey meaning by relying more heavily on nonverbal signals and the environment rather than on words. In such cultures, the communicator expects the audience to be able to decode the meaning of the message without explicit explanation. In contrast, people in low-context cultures convey meaning by relying more on verbal communication and explicit statements about the rules.

4. Contextual differences make up only one of the categories of cultural differences; other categories include ethical differences, social differences, and nonverbal differences.

5. Ethnocentrism is the belief that one person’s cultural background is superior to other cultural backgrounds. To overcome such ethnocentrism, communicators should avoid stereotyping, acknowledge that people differ, avoid making assumptions about how others think or act, and avoid making judgments about these differences.

6. Ethical intercultural communication depends on four basic principles: (1) actively seeking common ground; (2) avoiding judgment when sending and receiving messages; (3) communicating honestly; and (4) demonstrating respect for cultural differences.

7. You should understand your own culture so that you can recognize its influences on your communication habits.

8. While speaking with people from other cultures, communicators can (1) eliminate noise by paying close attention to pronunciation and making points one at a time, (2) watch for feedback to see whether the audience understands the message, (3) rephrase by using simpler words to help the audience understand, (4) clarify with repetition and specific examples, (5) avoid talking down to listeners, (6) use objective and accurate language, (7) listen carefully and patiently, (8) adapt to the other person’s style, and (9) clarify any decisions and follow-up actions.

9. Computers do not yet have (and may never have) the ability to translate with the accuracy and nuance of human translators. Even if it replaces every word with a precise equivalent, translation software can still generate confusing, misleading, or incorrect results. Important documents should always be translated by an experienced human translator.

10. First, you must recognize that challenges of cultural adaptation aren’t restricted to race or language. Differences in age, gender, educational background, work experience, and other life variables can present the need to adapt. Second, remember that speaking and listening in a second language are much harder than writing or reading in a second language, particularly among most English speakers in the United States, who use prodigious amounts of slang and aren’t obsessive about good grammar or careful pronunciation. You can help colleagues in this respect by creating intranets or other venues that allow written communication, rather than relying solely on oral exchanges. Third, the checklist in this chapter, “Improving Intercultural Communication Skills,” offers a number of specific steps to take, including studying other cultures, learning basic words and phrases in other languages, communicating simply and clearly, avoiding slang and other difficult...
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