Cross-Cultural Communication: Be Empathetic, Be Efficient

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You’ve been requested to make a gross sales presentation to a possible worldwide buyer positioned in a rustic you’ve by no means visited. 

Or possibly you’re giving a chat to coworkers in a facility throughout the globe.

Or maybe your concept for a TEDx speak in your very city, numerous area has been accepted.

In any of those eventualities, your greatest likelihood for achievement is to be a culture-literate communicator.  Listed here are our 5 high ideas for best-practice cross-cultural presenting and talking . . .

ross-Cultural Communication

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1  Know Your Viewers (and your self)

Understanding the make-up of your viewers is step one in making ready for any speech or presentation. However there’s an added dimension when you realize the viewers is culturally numerous.

Do a little analysis.  As a lot as attainable, discover out what languages, cultural norms, or sensitivities you should take into account. Additionally, take the time to study why they’ve come, what they’re prone to care about relative to your speak, and what frequent floor you share. 

Verify your assumptions.  It’s true that all of us kind assumptions about individuals based mostly on our personal experiences (or lack thereof). Sadly, our assumptions are generally based mostly on stereotypes.

Throughout a latest PowerSpeaking Reside! dialog about cross-cultural communication, panelist Rajani Shailender, VP of Gross sales, Tech Mahindra, shared some priceless insights about avoiding cultural stereotypes . . .

Presenting to and speaking with a culturally numerous viewers can really feel daunting. However should you put together for it with an open thoughts and respect for various views and norms, you’re extra prone to succeed.

2  Construct a Bridge With Language

Giving a presentation or a chat isn’t nearly delivering info. It’s additionally about making connections with individuals, constructing belief and credibility, being persuasive, and provoking motion. So, make sure that what you say and the way you say it honors your numerous viewers. 

Keep away from culture-specific idioms or references. If you wish to illustrate some extent with a metaphor or saying, choose one thing that’s extra common. In the identical PowerSpeaking Reside! talked about earlier, panelist Elizabeth Bachman, Principal, Strategic Talking for Outcomes, suggests {that a} well-known meals, like pizza, is a greater reference than a present in your streaming community.

Elizabeth and PowerSpeaking, Inc. CEO Carrie Beckstrom additionally touched on the significance of utilizing universally understood metaphors and tales . . .


Enunciate and use pauses.
  Please don’t s-p-e-a-k  s-o  s-l-o-w-l-y that you simply sound condescending or comical, however do enunciate clearly and pause between key factors or sections of your speak.

In line with their analysis in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience,” cites a Harvard Enterprise Evaluation article, “ authors Kristin J. Van Engen and Jonathan E. Peelle say that audiences who’re listening to accented speech  of  any  form  expertise ‘reductions  in intelligibility, comprehensibility, and processing velocity—the identical results attributable to listening to loss or background noise.’ By slowing down your talking tempo, you assist your viewers to higher handle the limitations to actually listening to and understanding you.”

Elizabeth shared some ideas relating to pacing and pauses through the PowerSpeaking Reside!. . .


Acknowledge completely different languages.
  Think about opening your speak with, for instance, “Hey, hola, bonjour, namaste.” Making such a clearly private reference to a wide-ranging viewers will do wonders for creating a way of connection. “Individuals love to listen to their very own language,” Rajani says.

Acknowledge time zones.  As an alternative of simply “Good morning” (your time zone), open with “Good morning, afternoon, and night.” The straightforward act of recognizing the place individuals are on this planet is an act of goodwill, and other people will take be aware.

3 Thoughts Your Nonverbal Communication

Whether or not we understand it or not, individuals in every single place learn loads into nonverbal communication. However relying on the group or tradition, the interpretations can range extensively.

What may your costume, stance, hand gestures, facial expressions, eye contact, and emotiveness connote to a different tradition? Listed here are a number of key issues to bear in mind . . .

Eye contact. Within the U.S. we stress the significance of eye contact in participating your viewers. However in some cultures, frequent and sustained eye contact from a speaker shouldn’t be solely not anticipated, it may be intimidating.

Hand gestures. You actually have to be cautious right here. There are a lot of hand gestures that imply one factor in a single tradition, and a totally completely different factor in one other. For instance, the thumbs-up and “okay” gestures within the U.S. have constructive connotations; however in different nations, those self same gestures have very detrimental meanings.

Expressiveness. Motion, facial expressions, and tone of voice can all make it easier to make your message clear, inform a narrative nicely, and have interaction individuals. However they will additionally lead to unintended results on an viewers. Daring, commanding physique language and tone of voice can convey confidence and credibility in a single tradition, however vanity and indelicacy in one other.

Once more, that is the place preparation is essential. Seek the advice of individuals who have some information of your viewers beforehand so your nonverbal communication helps, relatively than detracts, out of your message.

4  Be Cautious With Visuals and Humor

Pay attention to how sure pictures, symbols, props, or movies could be offensive to sure teams. Even colours have different meanings globally. As one instance, Globesmart® notes that . . .

It’s additionally necessary to think about coloration as a result of it will probably carry completely different symbolic meanings from tradition to tradition. For instance, purple is a high-energy coloration used as a warning or to elicit emotions of pleasure, ardour, and even anger in Western cultures, nevertheless it’s used as a coloration of mourning in South Africa.”

So, make visuals part of your early analysis.

And as for humor—particularly jokes—until you’re sure about the way it will land along with your viewers, it’s most likely smart to keep away from it. 

5  Recovering from a Cultural Misstep

The world is a giant, advanced, ever-changing place, the place we’re all human and make errors. It’s no surprise a presenter may really feel fearful about saying or doing one thing that insults somebody in a culturally numerous viewers.

So, what do you do if you inadvertently blow it? We love this recommendation from a Harvard Enterprise Evaluation article, “The right way to Get well From a Cultural Fake Pas

Ditch your obsession with efficiency. To start out, reframe the way you strategy making errors, and settle for them as inevitable uncomfortable side effects of working throughout cultures. That is admittedly tough — particularly for perfectionists and people who have loads on the road, like a member of a world gross sales staff attempting to shut a deal … The issue is that once we obsess over the opportunity of making errors, or panic about how one can get better, our pondering constricts. This psychological tightening makes it more durable to be free, spontaneous, and genuine, which is vital for constructing relationships within the first place.”

Elizabeth provides this easy recommendation for coping with a cultural misstep within the second . . .



Last Ideas

All of us need to be understood and revered by others. And it’s largely communication that both builds or breaks down understanding and respect.

After we take the time to change into culture-literate presenters and communicators, we create extra alternatives to win that new shopper, construct relationships with coworkers, and encourage individuals from a TEDx or another stage.



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