Intercultural Aspects of Business Communication

The most important aspect of any business relationship is communication. Today our world seems to develop into a really global marketplace, there are more and more international firms and organizations that deal with other companies throughout the world. The aim of the article is to study the nature of cross-cultural communication and the intercultural skills that can be useful in any kind of international business relationships. So it is very important to communicate the right way with the representatives of different cultures and nations as the simplest mistakes can cause terrific problems in understanding. There are many scientists and economists who worked at the field of business communication.

Among the foreign scholars we can name Fred Luthans, Larry A. Samovar, Margaret H., De Fleur and many others. The native scientists who devoted their works to the subject of business communication are N. Formanovskaya, V. Goncharov, N. Moskovcev, V. Derkachenko etc. Analyzing business as the sphere of social relations psychologists believe that success here depends on 85% on the person’s ability to communicate. While communicating we use together with some logical tools things we don’t often really understand and pay attention to. Among such subconscious phenomena we can point out the first type of communication which is non-verbal. It can be defined as “non-word human responses and the perceived characteristics of the environment through which the human verbal and nonverbal messages are transmitted”.

Non-verbal communication differs from verbal in some fundamental ways. For one thing, it is less structured, that makes it more difficult to study. Some types of non-verbal communication, such as the meaning of colors and certain gestures, can vary from culture to culture. Thus, it becomes obvious that learning, understanding and following the traditions of different cultures make it much easier to find the right direction on communication with their representatives. While words can carry just the message, non-verbal communication expressed by intonation, gestures, and even facial movements can let the opponent know the attitude of the person. Also it helps to establish credibility and leadership potential in business. For successful communication all the forms must be paid much attention to. More thoroughly we come to the approach that there are no forms of communication to be omitted. We come across the idea that all the forms must be used to get better and more completed results of communication and transferring thoughts and information.

Culture surrounds us all the time. A person may not realize it, but he constantly belongs to several cultures. Making attempt to explain what exactly culture is we can define it as system of shared symbols, beliefs, attitudes, values, expectations, and norms for behavior. Thus all members of any culture have and tend to act on similar assumptions about how people should think, behave and communicate. Cultures may vary widely. It is no wonder that most of us need special training before we can become comfortable with a culture that differs from our own. And it is apparent that any business person dealing with a foreign partner for successful communication must first of all pay attention to the cultural sphere his partner belongs to. Accepting the regulations of the partner’s culture it is always easier to build and correct the process of negotiations that way that the partner feels some comfortable.

When there appears the necessity to deal with foreign partners a manager has to learn about another culture, and there are two main approaches to choose. The first one is to learn as much as possible – the language, cultural back ground and history, social rules, and so on – about the specific culture expected to deal with. The other one is to develop general skills that will help to adapt in any culture. To become a successful multicultural communicator Margaret H. De

Fleur proposes a set of guidelines for achieving maximum results:
1. Recognize that every individual has emotions, needs, and feelings that are as sensitive as yours.
2. Try to understand the cultural norms of the partner who you communicate with.
3. Respect the customs and traditions of the others.
4. Listen actively in a co-cultural communication encounter.
5. Learn to cope with uncertainly.
6. Avoid stereotyping people who are different from you.
7. Be aware of your own ethnocentrism.

The more differences there are between the people who are communicating, the more difficult it is to communicate effectively. Among the main problems in cross-cultural business communication the scientists circle out language barriers, cultural differences, and ethnocentric attitude. More significant problems arise in forms of written communication that require translation.

As it was stated above, misunderstandings are especially likely to occur when the partners who are communicating have different cultural backgrounds. For example, one side of negotiations makes a message in one context, using assumptions common to people in his or her culture. The other side of negotiations decodes the message using absolutely different set of assumptions. The result is confusion. Such problems arise because of our unconscious assumptions and non-verbal communication patterns. Often the fact that people from different cultures differ from each other in many ways is ignored.

According to the recommendations of scholars such as I. Kuznetsov, V. Goncharov, V. Suharev and others it is possible to circle out certain rules to follow while communicating: try to eliminate “noise”; look for feedback; rephrase your sentence when necessary; use objective, accurate language; let other people finish what they have to say. Culture and communication are inseparable. Culture influences the way people behave, the language they use and gestures they employ. In its turn, all this makes an impact on the traditions of dealing with business partners. That’s why in recent years the interest of communication theorists, scholars, scientists, and researchers was engaged with cross-cultural communication. Anyway, when engaging in any form of communication, a speaker must take into account the possibilities of misunderstanding. That’s why it is so important for a business person to develop skills with the help of which it becomes possible to control and correct the communicational situation with cross-cultural partners. Nowadays, intercultural communication difficulties have become a source of misunderstanding in business relations of our multicultural world society.

The process of globalization makes modern businessmen pay more attention to developing skills of running a business with foreign partners. That’s why the ideas on both organizational behavior and norms of communication stated in the article have become one of the most essential approaches to the successful running of business in the modern world community.

Business Communication Etiquette 101

Many offices adopted a “business casual” attire in the workplace in the 1990’s. This meant a more relaxed attire – no more suits, ties, panty hose, and so forth. Unfortunately, many business people have also adopted a business casual attitude in their business communications.

Everyone could benefit from a lesson (or two!) in “netiquette” – or how to communicate professionally in a business environment using tools such as e-mail, instant message programs, text messaging and so forth.

Technology has made communicating a very different medium than it was just five years ago. We’re all so busy that we dash off quick messages, sometimes totally forgetting to use proper grammar, punctuation and spelling. While this is acceptable for friends, it is not acceptable in a professional environment.

E-mail is often the first communication that one has with a potential client or business associate. It is still very true that first impressions are the most important. If you had a meeting with someone whose clothes were dirty and torn, had messy hair and provided you with inaccurate product information, you probably wouldn’t end up doing business with them. Yet, every day, this same “unkemptness” appears in business communications.

Take this example: “Per ur request, i’m sending our current info. IMHO, we have the best produce in the mkt.” Gee, I’d really want to do business with this person, wouldn’t you – and are they selling fruits and vegetables, or did they misspell product?

Spelling, punctuation and grammar do count. Most e-mail programs have the ability to check these items. The little squiggly underlines are not there for fun! They are pointing out an error. Don’t ignore them. Also, don’t be in such a hurry to send your message that you don’t quickly re-read it. (Don’t get me started on people who send text messages while driving!) Once you hit “send” there is no way to correct your message, so take the time to make sure it’s truly what you want to say before sending it.

While you may think you’re being funny, remember that there is absolutely no way for the recipient to know the “tone” that you intended for your message. You may think you’re being brief and succinct, while they will think you’re being curt and impolite. Of course, many people now use “emoticons” to try to convey emotions. Sending a smiley or winking face is OK when the recipient is your friend; however, it’s not OK when you’re communicating with a CEO. After all, you wouldn’t send a hand-written note to a CEO with all of the “dots” in your “i’s” as smiley faces or hearts, would you?

The only thing worse than emoticons is “Internet slang” – that is, the abbreviation of many words. While practically everyone knows what “FYI” means, what about AFAIK and NOOB? Just as you shouldn’t use an acronym unless you are absolutely certain the recipient knows what you mean, don’t use Internet slang either.

When we communicated with our friends when we were young, we wrote: “How are you? I am fine.” We’ve all forgotten this basic politeness. While we don’t want to be this simple, it is much better to say: “It was a pleasure meeting you yesterday. I enjoyed learning about your business and as you requested, I am sending you our current product information. I’ll follow-up with you in a couple of days to answer any questions you may have.” Unfortunately, in our fast-paced business world, the more typical communication is along the lines of: “Here’s the info. Call me if you have questions.” While both say essentially the same thing, who would you rather do business with – especially if this was the first communication you had with the person about their company and their product?

When you really want to impress someone, the best way is to take the time to write them an actual note or letter that you put in an envelope, put a stamp on and mail, rather than dashing off a quick e-mail. It doesn’t matter that your penmanship may not be perfect. What’s important is that you actually took the time to send them a personalized communication. We all loved getting cards and letters when we were young and I believe the same is true today. Aside from anything else, a personal communication sets you apart from everyone else who just sends e-mails and quick text messages!

No matter what form of communication you use, remember that when you take the time to make sure it is correct, you are showing a certain level of respect for your recipient. How important are they to you – and your business?

FYI – AFAIK means “as far as I know” and NOOB means “someone who is new.”

Emerging Trends in Business Communication

Communication is perceived as relying of messages between two or more parties. Communication has grown to more than just relaying a message. Communication is a mutual transmission of ideas, opinions and questions leading to a common understanding or in some cases misunderstandings. Communication has proved to be a make or break aspect of every business and many businesses are scrambling to keep up with the fast growing world of business communication.

Growth of business communication infrastructure.

Over the last half decade, businesses have greatly invested in modern communication systems that facilitates quick and efficient exchange of both oral and written communication. According to Cisco Systems, largest provider of business communication solutions, equipment sales have been on the rise and more notably teleconferencing equipment and internet gadgetry. In the heart of modern communication we have the internet.

High speed internet has been in high demand owing to the increasing literacy levels all over the world. In the last three years, over ten fibre optic lines have been laid down in the Indian ocean with African countries being on the forefront to connect their citizens to high speed internet. South Africa, Kenya and Ghana are the highest internet consumers in Africa. In fact, Kenya is referred by many as the Silicon Valley of Africa.

Emerging trends in business communication.

Social media. Businesses are literary taking work to where the play is. There are over 1 billion Facebook user and nearly half a billion twitter and there is no way you can ignore such numbers. Many successful businesses have established customer care teams that interact and answer customer questions using social media platforms. You can barely go thirty minutes on Facebook without coming across a business advert. Social media is both fun and cheap to use making it a preferred marketing tool.

Outsourcing. This is a cost cutting move that businesses are employing to enhance customer service and feedback collection. With advancement in technology, customer desks can be located thousands of miles away from your business establishment. A business can have a 24hrs customer’s desk without paying a single cent as allowance.

Teleconferencing. Although it has been there for a while, teleconferencing has advanced with many businesses holding their AGMs remotely using telecommunication facilities.

A look into the future.

With many businesses on the final stages of recovery from the great recession, the future looks promising especially for small businesses. In a study conducted by Lloyds TSB Commercial, 42% of firms expect an increase in orders spreading over first six months of 2013. 44% are confident that sales will increase in the same time period while others are anticipating an increase in profits. Almost half of the firms involved in the study plan on allocating more to communication infrastructure and media advertising.