Building effective communication skills and relationships within a single culture is often challenging. Bridging the gap between different cultures makes building communication skills and relationships even more difficult. I will discuss some of the challenges of cross-cultural communication and the pieces necessary to build effective working relationships.
Typically, some of the basic assumptions we make when communicating with people from our own culture must be questioned and modified when communicating with people of another culture. First on the list of items for review is verbal communication. Parts of verbal communication, such as, tonality, tense, gender generalities and structure vary greatly from culture to culture. A majority of these differences are based on core values and perceptions in different cultures; therefore, such differences must be acknowledged if effective communication and relationships are to occur.
A principle rule of mutual respect is the basis for success in communication and relationships. Mutual respect should be based on the following criteria: always allow for and assume differences, until similarity is proved emphasize description, rather than definition or judgment practice empathy
treat your interpretation as a unproved theory until further understanding proves certainty
Often, cultural differences are easily identified and therefore, easy to adapt to; but, others are significantly more difficult. An example of a cultural difference with easy adaptability could be the matter of “personal space.” Someone whose cultural background has defined their need for limited areas of personal space when working and communicating with others, as opposed to someone who feels the need for a required, yet undefined area of personal space. The person who “requires” a certain sense of space may find himself/herself always “backing up” when working with the other...
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