Intercultural Communication in the Workplace

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Intercultural Communication in the Workplace
Pam Wetherell
May 16, 2011
Ashraf Esmail

Intercultural Communication in the Workplace
The objective of this paper is to explain the importance of the language in the intercultural business communication. In this paper will summarize theories from three different authors about the role of the language in the global market-place. Furthermore, it will also include citations from other sources as well as my own opinion on the subject and explanation of the new phenomenon “World English.” Intercultural Communication

“Nearly 40 years ago, media scholar Marshall McLuhan argued that we would soon be living in what he called a global village” (McLuhan, Fiore, 1968, p. 1). “I believe that we are there. The cold war is over. We can travel to other countries and meet members of other cultures. We can e-mail colleges in other countries as quickly as we can walk to the offices of colleges in the same building. The world is shrinking and becoming a global village. The rapid globalization of the world's markets is now a reality; this globalization increases the competitive challenge of the companies and the necessity that the leadership of those companies has a series of qualities to facilitate their management work in a multinational environment” (Devayatova, 2005 p. 1). Companies are expanding operations to other nations and following the new trend of outsourcing. “However, expanding operations to other nations means that organizations have to concurrently expand their communication capabilities so that they can interact efficiently with their foreign offices and markets” (Zaremba, 2003, para. 2). According to DeVito, “mobility, economic and political interdependence, and communication technology are three reasons to explain why intercultural communication has become an imperative in contemporary society” (DeVito, 1994, para. 4). “The first step in effective intercultural communication is the understanding and acceptance of differences. That does not mean we have to agree with another culture’s viewpoint, or that we have to adopt another culture’s values. It does mean we and they examine our and their priorities and determine how we all can best work together, being different.” (Beamer, Varner, 2008, para. 3). Language Barriers

An obvious barrier to intercultural communication relates to use of different languages. “Language also influences communication strategies. People who do business in a foreign language bring many of their own cognitive frames to the communication. If the business partners do not speak a common language, the entire intercultural business communication approach will be influenced by the dynamics of interpreters” (Varner, 2000). Good morning, dobrý deň, dobrý den, Guten Tag, bonjour, buenos dias, these are examples of my native Slovak and five other languages that I can partly understand and speak. I used to think this was a significant number, but I found that there were approximately 4000 languages spoken in the world. It is obvious that we could spend the whole life studying foreign languages and never master all of them. So how do we overcome this barrier? The next part will give a complete summary of the possible solutions according to three authors and will also include my own reflections. The most comprehensive approach to the topic can be found in the book titled “Intercultural communication in the global workplace” by Linda Beamer and Iris Varner. Linda Beamer is a full professor in the Department of Marketing at California State University, Los Angeles where she teaches marketing courses as well as business communication, intercultural communication and many others. Iris Varner is a professor in the Department of Management and Quantitative Methods, College of Business at Illinois State University, where she teaches the cultural environment of international business. Varner is the author of numerous articles in the area of intercultural...
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