Intercultural communication basically describes exchanging information across cultures. Even though it might seem simple and easy, there are many hidden problems and hitches you need to be aware of when communicating with your business partners and companies abroad. The aim of the communication should always be to show respect and minimise antagonism among people and among cultures. It is also helpful to know the definition of the concept of culture as culture can be described as a shared system of symbols and beliefs. Consequently, to set up fruitful relationship and communication, it is vital to become familiar with these beliefs and symbols
There are two major changes that made communication among cultures less complicated. First of them are improvements in communication via for example internet and improvements in technology and the second is globalization. Due to globalization, cultural diversity has been reduced and thus there are fewer opportunities for misunderstanding.
Symbols and Beliefs
Concerning various symbols, beliefs and approaches such as silence, time, distance and personal space, touching, body language, postures, movement and eye contact should be considered and studied to know what for example the ideal distance between two people talking to each other should be in a particular country.
Before you communicate with your partners abroad, try to find out as much as possible about their way of communication, what gestures they use for some of the most frequent things like “come here”, “money”, “great” and so on. Try to learn how they express their emotion. For example Mediterranean cultures show strong feelings and emotions whereas Scandinavian cultures are very calm and composed.
Realizing differences in cross-cultural pragmatics can be also beneficial as the differences between “what is said” and “what is meant” can be striking. Phrases for complimenting, apologising, requesting, inviting, offering and responding can vary a lot. In Britain, you can hear sentences like “It´s rather complicated” whilst in America, the answer to the same question will be “It´s really very simple” as Americans express positive attitude rather than negative one but British tend to be negative rather than positive.
Hidden Meanings and Euphemism
Also, hidden meanings and euphemisms are often a part of a message. It is important to decode those hidden meanings in order to get the message. By asking “Do you have to put it there?”, nobody really expects an answer but is just telling you not to put it there. Some of the examples of euphemism can be a phrase “to be between jobs” which basically means “to be unemployed” or “facilitation payments” which is nothing else than “bribes”.
If you communicate with people from different countries, try to be tolerant as well. What you might find rude can be also just caused by a linguistic incompetence of the speaker and a sentence “Give me a coffee” does not have to be an order but can just show that the speaker does not know how to ask politely.
Advice for Presentations
Finally, some advice for presentations in front of various nationalities can be helpful.Try to have a clear organisation of your presentation and some visual support and/ or handouts. Summarise often and repeat important things if necessary. Remember to be very careful about background knowledge assumed. Concerning the language itself, try to avoid unfamiliar, idiomatic or technical English and use a formal language instead. Moreover, be careful about the speed of delivery and try to make your pronunciation as clear as possible.
Jazyková agentura Skřivánek
Skřivánek je největší jazykovou agenturou ve střední a východní Evropě. Na trhu jazykových služeb působí již od roku 1994. Kanceláře a učebny agentury Skřivánek najdete v 19 městech ČR a v dalších 14 zemích světa.
Jako jedna z největších překladatelských agentur v Evropě se Skřivánek stal uznávaným specialistou na evropské a asijské jazyky. Zaměstnává více než 400 kvalifikovaných jazykových odborníků a nabízí odborné překlady do všech jazyků.
Kromě různých typů kurzů pro veřejnost zajišťuje Skřivánek i výuku na klíč pro firmy a jednotlivce, jazykové audity, pobytové a zahraniční kurzy nebo přípravu na jazykové zkoušky pro děti i dospělé.
Více informací najdete na www.skrivanek.cz.