Discussing some aspect of intercultural communication in the workplace

  1. Please find an article, written within the last 3 years, that discusses some aspect of intercultural communication in the workplace. The article could discuss many things such as:  communication customs in a given country, low context and high context cultures, the challenges of intercultural communication, communication skills business people should have in international business, etc.

    • For your sources, please find the article from PCC’s online magazine database “EbscoHost”.  EbscoHost is a very valuable database for students and anyone doing research.  The college pays a lot of money each year so that students and researchers can access current articles from some of the world’s leading publications.  In your future studies and in your career, these databases can provide great access to information, more than you may be able to find just doing web searches.
    • The following is a quick link to the PCC Library and its list of article databases. PCC Databases
    • Save a copy of the article in Word or Acrobat Reader.  You’ll need a copy of this for your discussion post.

fter researching one intercultural communication article as described in Module 2, please do the following:

In your discussion post, provide a short summary (2 paragraphs) of the article, including your thoughts on the author’s point of view.

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  • Add a heading to your summary with the article title and author’s name.
  • Attach a copy of the article, in either a docx or pdf format, to your discussion post.

Also response to 2 people: Your responses must be at least two paragraphs in length, but you can discuss any aspect of the articles you’d like.  Replies may be posted by selecting a message and using the “Reply” button.

1. “Exchanging Business Cards in Japan” by Maxime Polleri

In this article an anthropologist narrates the exchange of business cards in Japanese culture. Business cards are very important in Japanese business culture and it is looked badly upon to be caught without having one available. When you are handed a business card, you must accept it as a gift, with both hands and read it thoroughly, and then you must give your business card in return. There is always an exchange.

The anthropologist goes on to examine the differences between what is typically inscribed on a Japanese business card in comparison to an American, in the given story the Japanese businessman often travels internationally and so his business card is offered in English on the backside. Because Japanese culture is sociocentric, the card’s inscription begins by listing the man’s affiliation/company first, then his rank/position, then family name/last name and finally his first name. In comparison, the U.S. is an egocentric culture and so the backside begins with first and last name, followed by profession and finally organization.

This is an interesting breakdown of how the simple tool that is a business card varies across cultures. The businessman in this article is a good example of how simple things can easily be overlooked. The pictures also give good visuals on the customary way to accept and exchange business cards in Japan. In America, it is common to accept a business card singlehandedly, take a glance and simply put it in your pocket, often without giving one back in return. To avoid making easily avoidable mistakes such as these, it is important to conduct cultural research before engaging in international business.

2. Intercultural communication is difficult enough with language barriers. Common expressions simply do not translate well, ad nonverbal communication isn’t explored when learning a new language. Both are important factors in effective communication in the workplace. Here are a few tips on how to improve intercultural communication:

  1. Remove Stereotypes: It is natural to think that methods of communication you grew up with are correct, but other cultures may have learned a different way. Rather than assuming your communication style is right, try to learn from others.
  2. Avoid Slang: The language barrier is the largest cause of intercultural communication differences, and can be minimized by speaking properly to assure that people understand you.
  3. Listen and Mirror Their Body Language: You can build rapport by watching for signs of personal boundaries, eye contact, and other body language that can signal trust and honesty in other cultures. Try not to appear as though you’re mimicking, but simply allow them to take the lead.
  4.  Nonverbal Cues: Some cultures have a code of etiquette that governs nearly every movement while others are laid back. Familiarize yourself with other cultural norms to help aid your communication.

Gender differences can cause problems as well in communicating with other cultures. Studies have been done that show that women like to discuss a topic at length while men tend to jump from topic to topic. Whether interacting with other people that are different genders, ages, or religions you should always be mindful of how you are perceived. Harassment can be the result of communication that had good intentions in the beginning but got carried away or was perceived poorly. You should attend diversity training and always be considerate of other cultures. In the end depending on what your culture or communication style is, try taking cues from the other person and being mindful of your actions and although it may seem difficult at times the rewards are well worth the effort and are appreciated by others.

I think the most of author’s views on intercultural communication are great. It’s good to just learn to read the room and take cues from others if you’re not sure what to do. I think most people who are considerate and self aware aren’t the ones that run into issues. The people who run into issues are not even aware that there may be cultural or gender differences and they may be perceived as rude by their actions or words. I would have only 1 tip for anyone, and it would be to just be self aware and read the room. Everything else falls under that umbrella and as long as you try, people will appreciate it.

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