When analysing the ‘International Communication Landscape’ I realized that this, because the world around us is constantly changing, is a very complex, ever changing landscape. Therefore, I think the experts in this field are the most creative, adaptive and innovative people in the field of communication.
I watched several TEDx talks, one that I could relate to very much was the one from Pellegrino Ricardi, an International Communication Professional that helps people from different cultures communicate and understand each other by means of workshops. His parents are Italian, he is raised in England and he currently lives in Norway.
I could relate with him because this year I also feel a part of three different cultures: the Dutch, the English and the Spanish. Especially the Spanish culture I consider to be very different. In all the three cultures there are aspects I do not like, for instance, in the Dutch culture I really do not like the complaining and in the Spanish culture I do not think it is necessary to kiss every time you see someone or when you meet someone new. However, there are also a lot of things that I really like in all three cultures. I like the openness of the Dutch cultures about topics that are taboo in some countries, I like the ability many Spanish people have to make you feel at home in a place where you just came and I like the politeness and efficiency English people have in case of an event/emergency. What Ricardi suggests is to always be curious and to not judge what you don’t understand. Moreover, he says that if you feel divided by different cultures you should take the best of all these cultures and create a new culture, to achieve a global mind-set. I really like this idea and I am going to try to do that.
Another TEDx talk I listened was from Chris Smit, an Intercultural Manager Expert, he talks about humour in international businesses. He says that humour is very culturally related, I partly agree with him. Of course there might be a certain type of jokes that is considered funny in one country and not in the other. However, in my year abroad I have never considered miss-communication with humour, with other aspects I have but with humour not. One of my best friends was from Argentina and we could get along very well because we had almost exactly the same sense of humour. I think that you don’t need to speak the same language to make jokes with each other and that humour can even overcome cultural differences.
The last TEDx talk I would like to discuss is from Valerie Hoeks, she manages the communication between Western and Chinese companies. I found this very interesting because I have never been in China, I have a really good Chinese friend and I don’t know too much about the Chinese culture yet. Her advice is to implement Chinese business strategies into the Western way of working. She identifies three important aspects in the Chinese culture: harmony – sometimes wait instead of managing everything and let it be -, relationships – that are valued very much in China, but you should always repay your depth (ying and yang) and face – how you look, your status, your relationship etc. it can be gained and lost. Knowing this can maybe help me understand my Chinese friend and other Chinese people more and maybe implementing some of these aspects can work for me too.
Finally, Gayle Cotton: She won a National Emmy Award Winner and is the author of the Best Selling Book ‘SAY Anything to Anyone, Anywhere!’. She is specialized in cross-cultural communication. She identifies 5 keys to successful cross-cultural communication.
The 5 keys to effective proactive communication according to Gayle Cotton:
- Create proactive communication and avoid reactive communication.
- Being ready before something happens rather than waiting for things to unfold before responding –> be prepared.
- Everyone has their own pre-existing perceptions that may create conscious or unconscious strikes against you and cause credibility challenges.
- My possible strikes: 1) young/unexperienced, 2) blond, 3) Women, 4) don’t speak Spanish that wellà
- Understand the cultural layer impact: country (Spain), language (Valencian and Spanish), religion (Catholic), geographical area (Valencia), race, gender, experience, events.
- Rapport Secrets to Bridge the Cultural Gap – In Person, On the Phone, and by Email
- Definition rapport: The ability to connect with people anywhere in the world. In person, on the phone, or by email, and make them feel comfortable with you. This establishes trust, and creates a comfort zone at a deep unconscious level.
- If you have good rapport with someone and something goes wrong, they will be more likely to blame the situation or circumstance. If you have poor rapport with someone and something goes wrong, they will be more likely to blame you
- To develop a good rapport you sometimes have to adapt your style.
- What Are The Methods Of Communication And How Do They Relate To Cultures?
- Words: Subjective, rarely convey the meaning you think they convey. Meaning differs with every person, culture and language.
- Tonality: tempo (fast/slow), tone (high/low), volume (loud/soft), inflection (nuances, a subtle difference in meaning, expression or sound).
- Body language: facial expressions, gestures, mannerisms, social business etiquette.
- Body language is in a great deal of cultures of major importance. So if your words are in conflict with your body language, people believe your body language.
- In Romantic Language Culture there is very little emphasis on the words, more on how it is said.
- Understand cultural tendencies, adapt your communication style, and create a comfortable rapport
- Organise productive interactions
- Understand multi-cultural time expectations
- Avoid interpersonal miscommunication: if it happens, ask yourself why? (Your words? Tone? Body language? Actions?)
- Avoid phone miscommunication: If it happens, it may not be what you said but how you said it.
- Avoid written or email miscommunication: email cannot be undone (avoid any race, gender etc. jokes), use the format they use when writing to you, avoid translation errors.
- Strategies for Relationships – Cultural Beliefs, Values, and Rules
- Information vs relationship oriented cultures
- You need to centre yourself before cross-cultural interactions, or you could have a wobble in the communication which creates a warped relationship (comparison Potter’s wheel)
- Success Leaves Clues – Cultural Clues, Do’s and Taboos.
- Avoid hand gestures
- Make sure that what you say is what you mean
This information is usable in the international environment where I am now.