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Communication across Cultures
Communication across cultures is a concept under culture and ethnicity that explains the
communication patterns between individuals that hail from different cultural backgrounds. It also
elaborates more on individuals ability to form successful relationships with people of a different
culture, while successfully sustaining the existing ones (Christopher 105) . Communication
across cultures as recently been an important aspect of international businesses and relationships
but has proved to be a challenging task to most people. The communication across cultures relies
on various factors such as the values, decision-making, manners and perceptions of the people of
the different culture. Additionally, it also involves understanding the non-verbal, face-to-face,
verbal, and writing communication of the different cultures, depending on the social context.
Communication across culture requires practice and instructions for it to be done effectively. The
purpose of this paper is to analyze the concept of communication across cultures, examining its
relationship to the management role, its application, critical perspectives on the topic and
conflicts in relation to the issue.
Critical Perspectives in Communication across Cultures
Communication across cultures is highly dependent on the differences between ethnic
backgrounds. For example, the medium through which an individual passes along some message
is influenced by culture. This dependence contributes to the perception of low or high-context
cultures. The difference between the low or high-context culture is defined in terms of the

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specification of the message sent verbal and non-verbal cues, and the interpretations. The highcontext culture is associated to the Asian, Latin American, Mediterranean, and African natives,
who fail to specify messages and rely on nonverbal cues in communication patterns. On the other
hand, low-context culture is affiliated with the English and Germans who give specified
information, with all interpretations required for understanding the message. With the above
knowledge of these cultures, then communication with people that follow the above cultures
becomes easy. However, one requires learning these aspects of communication that related to
these ethnic groups.
Communication across cultures is thought that has been incorporated into the
organizational culture in the current business world. Businesses, specifically those dealing with
international borders, work with people of different ethnic backgrounds, customs, beliefs, and
languages. Without the knowledge of communication across cultures, then it becomes difficult
for individuals in the workplace to pass along messages. In this sense, cross-cultural
communication deals with elaborating the communication strategies that are applicable in an
organization that deals with people of different cultures. Cultural differences in a business set up
may be a leading source of conflict, especially in cases where some of the employees feel that
their culture has been exempted in the organizations communication patterns. Additionally,
messages may be misunderstood due to the differences in the interpretation of non-verbal cues,
therefore, leading to conflicts in the workplace. It is important for organizations to encourage
their employees to respect the cultures of those that they interact with in the company.
Furthermore, studying this concept makes it easy to communicate with individuals from a
different culture without coming across as rude, impatient and condescending.

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Cross-culture communication in an organization is influenced by the idea of low and
high-context cultures. In an organization, the employees feelings, thoughts, and opinions,
influence their behavior within cultures as stipulated by the principles of low- and high-context
cultures. Businesses set up in the regions associated to either of the context cultures need to
conduct businesses respecting the communication cultures in the regions. For example,
employees in the low-concept culture regions have to put specifics in documentations and
contracts to bring about the concept of providing direct information. In this case, decisionmaking processes rely heavily on facts laid out in communication, and not on trust. On the other
hand, businesses in the high-context regions rely on trust between employees and business
acquaintances when making deals. In this case, the decision- making process are guided by
interpersonal relationships. Furthermore, individuals operating under this concept are more
concerned with the group achievement, giving little attention to the success of every individual.
Another critical perspective in communication across cultures revolves around the nonverbal and verbal behavior and listening skills. An open mind is necessary when communicating
with people from a different culture, in which an individual puts aside his or her personal
feelings and shows maximum concentration. Unnecessary remarks are avoided in such
circumstances to avoid hurting people of different cultures with the comments. Sensitivity to the
differences in culture helps improve on communication and bridges the gap in the different
cultures. Linguistic preferences determine non-verbal and verbal cues. The language choices are
paramount to understanding the clues in different cultures in verbal and non-verbal
communication, thus preventing misunderstandings and conflict. Correct handling of the nonverbal cues such as gestures prevents offending people from the other cultures. For example,

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Americans point a finger to illustrate things, whereas the Japanese consider the pointing of a
finger to be a rude gesture.
Different factors are said to lead to the success or failure of communication across
cultures. In gaining the knowledge and understanding of the communication of different cultures,
people are faced with a number of factors, which influence whether they succeed or fail in the
entire process. One of the factors affecting cross-cultural communication is ethical identity,
which determines the interaction between two people from different cultures. Cultures have
varying dynamics, which should be taken into account when communicating to avoid annoying
some of the people. This factor goes hand in hand with the cultural identity factor that relies on
the values and attitudes of various people when communicating. Communication patterns are
affected by clashes between peoples practices and their norms, which individuals take into
consideration when communicating, but often forget, thus causing havoc. Although people in an
organization may be from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, they should all strive
towards understanding the cultural and ethnic values of their co-workers, thus improving their
Intercultural communication is also affected by gender roles, whereby members of
various cultures communicate with one another, influenced by the roles prescribed for men and
women in the different cultures. In some cultures, the people struggle with the stereotypes
associated with gender roles, whereas others embrace every aspect of their culture. Therefore,
communicating with the two groups, it is necessary that we look at issues through the cultural
lens of the person we are speaking to, before making any remarks. However, the gender factor is
affected by the individual identity factor, which determines the communication patterns of a
person based on their unique traits and their esteem levels. Individuals can be conservative or

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open-minded, and this often influences how other people speak to them. An open-minded
individual coming from a culture in which most people accept the prescribed gender roles may
have a different opinion on certain issues, which affects how they are treated (Terragni 193).
Conflicts in Literature in Relation to Communication across Cultures
Various literature have been published examining the concept of intercultural
communication. There are a few notable conflicts in existing research, in which authors present
different perspectives on this topic. Ting-Toomey (11) presents the idea that communication
across culture is only dependent of the culturally shared traditions such as rituals, myths, and
legends. The author suggests that people of a similar culture communicate using terms and
language tone formulated from the fundamental assumptions of every culture. This author also
holds the thought that or other factors that influence communication across cultures revolves
around the concept of the culturally shared traditions. Furthermore, the author believes that for
cross-cultural communication to be effective, individuals have to develop identity means of their
culture, and help people from other culture understand these identity meanings (Ting-Toomey
12). This author also includes the issue of irreversibility in the communication across cultures,
which arise due to the value orientation differences and forming of differing impressions. This
aspect of the author's thought is in conflict with the ideas of other writers that do not think of the
irreversibility nature of this topic pose conflicting to the ideas.
There is a conflict between the above literature and the book authored by Zhu, in which
he notes that there is more than one factor affecting the concept of cultural communication (Zhu
9). The author explains that it is the cultural values and beliefs, as well as the contrastive
rhetorics associated with them, which affect communication between cultures. For example in
terms of written communication, Zhu(10) explains that some cultures insist on the importance of

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using paragraph, as they help in showing that direct messages have been portrayed. On the other
hand, other cultures prefer the use of circulations, which represent the act of being indirect when
transmitting information. Furthermore, this author engages in an analysis that has not been
considered by other authors on the same topic. The writer gives credit to the theoretical
perspectives surrounding the concepts of intercultural communication. The author believes that
this form of communication is mostly dependent on the theoretical information that is available
concerning this topic. Individuals communicate with those from a different culture based on the
academic information available, and perhaps this has been the reason as to why cross-cultural
communication is becoming increasingly easy (Gudykunst 20).
Importance of the Topic in a Career as a Manager across Cultures
The todays international business community happens to include the cooperation of
different cultures in conducting business, thus contributing to the success of businesses.
Managers have a fundamental role in this setup, under which they have to ensure that cultural
conflict orchestrated by communication between cultures does not arise (Bowe , Kylie, and
Howard 55). The differences in cultures must be recognized in every workplace to ensure that
members of different cultures do not feel left out. The topic that is under scrutiny in this essay
has considerable effect on my career as a manager across cultures due to the importance
associated with the intercultural communication.
The first significant concern in my line of career has to do with preventing
miscommunication in the workplace. The topic of communication across cultures creates
awareness in managers on the differences in cultures, thus preventing ignorance within the office
environment. The knowledge of intercultural communication will help me as a manager to
clearly interpret the information sent from individuals of other cultures. It is clear that some

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terms such as yeah are okay when used in one culture, but when used in other cultures, they can
be interpreted as disrespectful, ill-mannered and rude, thus leading to conflict. However, with the
knowledge of communication patterns between various cultures, it becomes quite easy to
understand what the employees mean by certain words without thinking that they have a negative
attitude. Furthermore, sending out information to employees who are of different cultures may be
challenging, as they may not get the intended message. However, this topic will help me to come
up with strategies that I can use to put messages across, in which every employee will clearly
understand what I meant.
Another important of the topic on communication across cultures in my career as a
manager is that it will help me deal with instances of misevaluation and misperception. The topic
will lead me into the concept of assuming differences between the employees, and me until a
level of similarity is proven. Therefore, whenever am sending a message to a certain recipient, I
have to consider that they are different from me and that they require the message translated into
the wording that best fits their culture. Furthermore, this topic helps me understand that the
behavior of individuals is highly influenced by their cultural surroundings. The highly
recognized ethical behavior in one culture may be unknown to individuals of a different culture.
Understanding that some form of bizarre behavior is influenced by culture, and thus individuals
that exhibit such behavior should not be judged (Hallenbeck 478). As a manager, comprehending
cross-cultural communication is important, in helping me encourage employees to accept one
another as they are and avoid misevaluating the behaviors of their coworkers.
In a global working environment, there is a high probability that conflicts may occur, in
which individuals misinterpret one another. An employee may use some words to express his or
himself, but be interpreted as abusive and looking down upon other employees of a different

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culture. Therefore, this topic becomes important in conflict management, especially if the parties
to a conflict are from different cultural or ethnic backgrounds. With knowledge of the topic, I can
enlighten my junior staff on the differences in culture, thus making them understand that the
words used may have been innocent but sounded different in another culture. Additionally, teambuilding activities can also be centered on embracing the various cultures that are in existence in
the workplace. This means that the topic will enable me to incorporate culture-aware
communication patterns in the workplace, making the work environment comfortable for every
employee (Spencer-Oatey, 100).
Knowledge Gained and Its future Use
In researching the concept communication across culture, I learned a lot of information
on the topic, most of which I was unaware of before I undertook the study. I have learnt that we
come across this concept in our daily lives, whether at work, school, mall, or in any other
environment. This topic helped me to understand why conflict arises between members of
different cultures and the factors that lead to the over reliance on stereotypes when referring to
members of a different culture. In most instances, people do not want to understand that
communication mishaps are as a result of cultural differences, and will hate people of a certain
culture simply because they said something that was interpreted as mean or rude. However, if
individuals were to have a closer look at the words uttered in relation to the culture involved, it
would prevent the misinterpretation of the information. Additionally, it is very important for one
to take into consideration the aspect of low-context and high-context cultures, especially if
meeting new people to avoid misunderstanding their verbal and non-verbal communication cues.
This topic does not just apply to the managers position in a working environment but is
also applicable in any other formal or social setup. In future, I would use the knowledge I got

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from the study in bringing about training sessions in schools and working environment, whereby
the participants can also learn the issues surrounding cross-cultural communication. Additionally,
since I enjoy traveling, I feel that communication between the people and me I meet in a foreign
land will be much easy since I will take time in studying the culture of the land before traveling.
I also intend to use the knowledge to carry out studies on the topic, with the hope that I will
identify some factors that have been overlooked by different authors and researchers.
Furthermore, the knowledge on the topic can be utilized in cohort studies and interviews,
whereby some responses were given are not understandable or do not give an answer to the
questions asked due to the differences in communication patterns across cultures.

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Works Cited
Bowe, Heather, Kylie Martin, and Howard Manns. Communication across cultures: Mutual
understanding in a global world. Cambridge University Press, 2014.
Christopher, Elizabeth, ed. Communication across cultures. Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.
Gudykunst, William B. Theorizing about intercultural communication. Sage, 2005.
Hallenbeck, James L. "Communication across cultures." Journal of palliative medicine 7.3
(2004): 477-480.
Spencer-Oatey, Helen, ed. Culturally speaking: Managing rapport through talk across cultures.
A&C Black, 2004.
Terragni, Giuseppe. "Communication across cultures." arq: architectural research quarterly 14
(2010): 193.
Ting-Toomey, Stella. Communicating across cultures. Guilford Press, 2012.
Zhu, Yunxia. Written communication across cultures: A sociocognitive perspective on business
genres. Vol. 141. John Benjamins Publishing, 2005.