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Common miscommunication pitfalls in cross-cultural communication

We are increasingly working in a globalized world, communicating with clients and colleagues from different cultures and countries. It is therefore more important than ever to find new approaches to ensure that your One BIG Message® is understood, appreciated and acted upon. Here are some of the most common cross-cultural communication pitfalls and how to avoid them.   

 

Seeing things only from your perspective

Our backgrounds, values and cultures develop our perspective on the things around us and it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that those ways are ‘normal’ and the same for everybody. Otherwise known as ‘ethnocentrism.’ This can lead to us judging behaviors that don’t conform to our own beliefs.  We may perceive other people’s perspectives to be wrong or misaligned, when actually it’s just another way of seeing things. 

 

Ask yourself: how much do I know about my audience’s history and background to take a cultural perspective when I communicate with them? In your One BIG Message® consider what is important to your audience, taking into account their cultural perspectives and any possible differences with your own perceptions. 

 

Creating prejudice through Stereotypes 

 

Cross-cultural communication in business can often lead to the formation of harmful stereotypes and prejudices. Prejudices are preconceived negative attitudes that limit our ability to accurately perceive and interact with people from different cultural backgrounds. These prejudices can be based on race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, or any other group identity. 

 

Avoid making statements that ‘generalize’ your audience through your own unconscious bias. 

 

Not adjusting your style to your audience

The way in which you present needs to be adapted to your audience. If you usually deliver a very formal presentation that you would normally use to communicate with partners and customers, it may be considered too pompous for an audience full of millennials, for example. 

 

Similarly, a presentation which is too informal and uses too much slang and humor may be totally inappropriate for an audience made up of senior management or board-level directors. 

 

Choose your words and style wisely and be prepared to adjust to the situation and the audience you are speaking to. 

 

Not paying attention to important non-verbal cues

 

Your words only represent a portion of what you are communicating. Body language, tone, clothing choices, and use of personal space account for a large proportion of intercultural communication.  

 

Take the time to learn what the attitudes are of your audience as you prepare your presentation so that you can be sensitive to a broad range of cultures with the non-verbal choices that you make. 

 

To master the art of cross-cultural communication effectively, enrol on my e-learning program ‘The Art of Persuasive Speaking in Global Business.’ It will help you understand how cultural differences impact your communication and how to make conscious decisions about persuasive communication through a range of proven strategies. 

 

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