Effects of Culture in Business Communication

Topics: Culture, Intercultural competence, Cross-cultural communication Pages: 5 (1644 words) Published: October 21, 2012
How does culture effect business communication in the workplace? Home » Information Technology » Intro to Business Communication » How does culture effect business communication in the workplace? Cultural awareness in communication is crucial in today’s workplace. Businesses must adjust and accommodate new attitudes, rules, and values that are merging in this intercultural society and workplace. Businesses need to be aware of stereotypes, prejudices, and generalizations and proactively educate employees in cultural awareness. According to The American Heritage Dictionary, stereotyping is defined as: a conventional, formulaic, and oversimplified conception, opinion, or image. Sometimes stereotypes may contain truth, however if the stereotypes become rigid and are based on false beliefs, they can easily turn into a prejudice. Generalizations occur when our brains take in new information and put it into categories in order to understand the new data. Generalization is simply a way that humans sort data and make sense of their world. They only become unhealthy and negatively affect businesses when they turn into prejudices. It is advantageous for businesses to learn about cultures and teach employees in order to maintain a healthy work environment. There are a few concepts that will help businesses achieve intercultural sensitivity. First, employees must be taught and encouraged to avoid ethnocentrism. Ethnocentrism is the belief in the superiority of ones own race. Most people think that their culture is right and they judge others by their own values. However, ethnocentrism leads to many misunderstandings and must not be a nurtured attitude in a business. One way to protect against ethnocentrism is to encourage a climate of tolerance and understanding. In this growing multiethnic business world, employees must be taught to have empathy and to guard against close-mindedness. Businesses must teach employees to seek common ground in order to achieve desired goals and complete tasks within the company. Lastly, educating employees and encouraging them to learn about other cultures is the best way to achieve intercultural sensitivity in a business. When a business strives to reduce cultural misconceptions by learning to appreciate the differences within cultures the business only becomes stronger. ETHNOCENTRISM

Problems in business communication conducted across cultures often arise when participants from one culture are unable to understand culturally determined differences in communication practices, traditions, and thought processing. At the most fundamental level, problems may occur when one or more of the people involved clings to an ethnocentric view of how to conduct business. Ethnocentrism is the belief that one's own cultural group is somehow innately superior to others. It is easy to say that ethnocentrism only affects the bigoted or those ignorant of other cultures, and so is unlikely to be a major factor in one's own business communication. Yet difficulties due to a misunderstanding of elements in cross-cultural communication may affect even enlightened people. Ethnocentrism is deceptive precisely because members of any culture perceive their own behavior as logical, since that behavior works for them. People tend to accept the values of the culture around them as absolute values. Since each culture has its own set of values, often quite divergent from those values held in other cultures, the concept of proper and improper, foolish and wise, and even right and wrong become blurred. In international business, questions arise regarding what is proper by which culture's values, what is wise by which culture's view of the world, and what is right by whose standards. Since no one individual is likely to recognize the subtle forms of ethnocentrism that shape who he or she is, international business practitioners must be especially careful in conducting business communication across cultures. It is necessary to try to rise...
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