International business communication has become an increasingly important topic for companies of all sizes. As globalization continues to advance, business relationships among nations are more commonplace than ever. Because of these relationships, understanding and adhering to international business communication laws can be particularly challenging for companies that haven’t been involved in business relationships abroad before.
Just as geographic differences have made different aspects of life more difficult for individuals and businesses, differences in time zones and various time zones across European businesspeople also create unique challenges. Because of the differences in time zones throughout the region, northern European business people are accustomed to having their demands and opinions listened to by others in their business sector who are on another continent. However, many northern European businesspeople have also experienced being unable to fully comprehend or understand requests from southern European businesspeople. This can make for a difficult situation where both parties feel misunderstood or unwanted.
There are a few key elements for any communication between two or more countries that can assist in resolving these types of misunderstandings. First, both parties must be able to agree on the scope of the discussions. Second, these discussions must involve a clear and easy way to communicate the desired expectations to the other party. And third, the other party must be receptive to your messages and take actions you are requesting.
Because of the unique cultural differences that exist among the members of a business community, it may prove difficult for some organizations to recognize the potential for communication barriers between them. In order to recognize these potential barriers, many international business communication experts recommend training and teaching employees the appropriate way to approach and deal with these differences. One such way of doing so is through exercises known as “Gross Translation”. This exercise focuses on identifying the differences that could cause a customer or client to misunderstand your product or service.
Gross Translation involves taking a simple language pattern from one language to another. For example, if you were to go into a furniture store in Italy and speak with an Italian employee, you would most likely encounter two different directions in their conversation. The employee would most likely interpret your words based upon their own cultural background and expectations. This could mean that they interpret your words literally and focus on visual cues in order to determine whether or not your message is understood. On the other hand, if you spoke with a Spanish speaking employee, they may focus on your body language and vocal intonation in order to decipher what you are trying to say.
In addition to learning how to recognize and clarify any potential communication barriers, one must also be able to adjust their message in order to better adjust for the cultural limitations. For instance, if you are communicating with a Spanish speaking client, you should adapt your speech pattern to match the Spanish pronunciation of words and phrases. Likewise, if your aim is to communicate effectively with an Asian business colleague, you must tailor your language pattern to be more accommodating to their unique vocabulary and varying sentence structure. In addition to adjusting for these potential linguistic differences, you must also be open to developing a polychronic system (one that uses several methods of communication and allows multiple parties to communicate with one another simultaneously) in order to increase the effectiveness of your communication within the organization.
Culturally-driven communication has been shown to have positive impacts on business outcomes and employee engagement. A global perspective can help managers understand and overcome communication challenges associated with different cultures. However, there are limits to this type of communication. As a manager, you must recognize that there are inherent cultural differences that can create communication difficulties, such as different business norms regarding time, authority, and power. Therefore, you cannot expect employees to speak the same language or understand the same cultural norms as you do.
When managers address communication issues related to cultural differences, they must balance the needs of different business people with an open system. To successfully apply the principle of creating an environment that facilitates communication, managers must consider the needs of different businesspeople, take into account existing organizational structures, and consider environmental differences. This approach empowers each individual manager to act flexibly within the organizational framework while maintaining alignment with company goals. In essence, managers create a context in which all individuals can successfully perform their functions.