Intercultural Communication in the Workforce

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Intercultural Communication in the Workforce

Today’s organizations are doing business more and more in a global context. The people that count in any business from the suppliers to clients to employees are increasingly based in remote locations in foreign countries. The need for effective and clear intercultural communication is becoming vital in securing success in today’s global workplace. Managers of global corporations need to understand the role of intercultural communication competence in achieving cohesiveness in diverse environments of global business teams. Whether delivering a presentation, negotiating with a supplier, or providing assistance to a client, intercultural communication must be done right.

The US labor force is continually changing with more females, different ethnic backgrounds, and more immigrants joining the current workforce. As a result, the workplace landscape is more multicultural and dynamic today than ever before. Employers are looking to recruit employees who have good communication and personal skills to be admirable team player. Those skills are even more valuable as the American workforce develops into wider varieties of cultural background.

Corporations are quickly learning that embracing key diversity policies and procedures have positive effects on their business success. Culture is a set of learned thoughts and behaviors, which make up our way of life. In the workplace, we typically share our organization's culture with our coworkers; it's unlikely that we share personal culture with all our coworkers. We can find many ways that diverse lifestyles are symbolized in the workplace. Depending on our learned experiences with contact to diverse cultures, our comfort zone with these groups can increase or decrease. "Work force diversity is the presence of differences based on gender, race and ethnicity, age, able-bodiedness and sexual orientation" (Schermerhorn, 2003, pg. 4).

Diversity has benefited dozens of organizations when competing in the world marketplace. Target has successfully improved its intercultural communications, which was necessary to develop and sustain a diverse culture centered on exceptional customer service. Few companies take full advantage of America's changing diversity in creating teams filled with cultures that reflect the international population. For example, growth in Hispanic's spending power will outstrip that of the general population in coming years. According to Dougherty & Jordan (2008), "Hispanics currently control more disposable income than any other minority group at $860 billion a year, a figure which is expected to exceed $1.3 trillion by 2012.” So hiring employees of more diverse backgrounds has an economical advantage.

Companies that engage and support full spectrum diversity are in a better position to understand their consumer’s needs. The challenge of employers is to assure that its workforce’s diversity is a source of power, not one of disagreement. However, this is not the sole duty of the organization to reach its achieved diversity goal. Every employee has to embrace in this responsibility as well.

Daily in the news, we see events full of misunderstanding between different countries and their diverse cultures. Improper communication is a key source of intercultural anxiety and disagreement. The communication process is quite different among other cultures by how, when, why, and the way something is said. Communicating to one group may have different meaning to another based on tone, facial expression or nonverbal indicators. These ideas consist of a person's communication style. Miscommunication can happen when an individual’s communication styles are unique from someone else.

Learning to effectively communicate among different cultures is essential regardless of the line of work. For example, in some cultures arguing is considered normal, while other cultures find it to be unfriendly behavior, and for some the...
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