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Cross-Cultural Communications

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Michelle Lazar

on 26 January 2015

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Transcript of Cross-Cultural Communications

Cross-Cultural Communications
Michelle Clare Lazar
Effective cross-cultural communication requires senders and receivers to adjust their normal patterns of encoding and decoding the meaning of messages.

Increase the cultural gap = Increase the differences in meaning(s)
between sender & receiver attached to certain words, actions,
behaviors, symbols, etc.

Cross-Cultural Communication relies heavily on receiver perception.

Perception is..
- it is impossible for any one person to observe and interpret every word, action, and behavior in their environment.
- our past experiences and life lessons form future perception
Culturally Determined
- we become bias to our own cultural norms
- often hard to adjust perception as we age
- bias in favor of the receiver
Cross-Cultural Communications Defined
: how we evaluate an observation and/or message through assumptions, past experience (education, family, etc) and cultural and community norms.

Effects of Interpretation:

Categorizing events, people, actions in our immediate environments allow us to make sense of complex situations and simplify our experiences for better understanding

(not always a bad thing)
Conscious: Can be accurate, are changeable, often reflect the best option and are thus helpful
Subconscious: Mostly inaccurate, hard to change, assumptions based on false data that are often hurtful

As senders we must be aware of how our receivers may interpret our messages based on their own cultural and community norms
The Power of Interpretation
Cross Cultural Misevaluation & How to Avoid it
Cross-cultural communication is the new norm
Modern technology and the internet allow businesses to operate without geographic restrictions giving businesses access to new marketplaces and new consumers

Understand what cultural diversity is and how it effects all cultures
Cross cultural communication begins with the understanding that senders and receivers are of different cultures and will interpret messages differently

Develop an awareness for individual cultures in which you do business with
Learn the basics of all cultures in which you will be communicating with regularly to convey interest and respect for your business partners and new consumers

Demand tolerance
Tolerance in mandatory to maintain a standard of acceptable behavior across cultures and demonstrates open-mindedness, acceptance and respect

Keep it simple
Simple, clear and unambiguous messages eliminate opportunities for others to misinterpret

It is okay to get help when you need it!
It is impossible to know, predict and eliminate all miscommunication issues so accept that you may need help interpreting cross cultural messages.
Cross-Culture Communication Must Haves!
One Culture vs. Cross-Cultural Communication
IRISH AMERICAN 1: We're going to the Orange Bowl in Miami this weekend.
IRISH AMERICAN 2: What fun! I wish I were going to the game with you. How long are you going to be there? [If she wants a ride, she will ask.]
IRISH AMERICAN 1: Three days. By the way, we may need a ride to the airport. Do you think you can take us?
IRISH AMERICAN 2: Sure What time?

Cross-Cultural Communication | Pellegrino Riccardi | TEDxBergen
Pellegrino Riccardi is a cross-cultural expert, speaker, and motivator. Watch the first 9 minutes to see how cultural norms effect perception and interpretation and thus our everyday lives and cross-cultural interaction which often leads to giant steps of miscommunication. (If you have time to watch it all...I highly recommend it)
Understanding your intended receiver and their interpretation of messages is not a new concept!
Cross-Cultural Miscommunications
Subconscious Cultural Blinders
Our everyday home culture and communities positively reenforce our assumptions. These assumptions based on cultural familiarity lead to stereotyping and lack of awareness on how other cultures will view our communication
In the US, we mostly operate business in hierarchical work environments that stress professionalism with strict standards of "dressing for success". In Norway, business is conducted in a casual environment that stress equality over hierarchy and thus appearance is not as important. Due to these differences, US business professionals may view Norwegian business professionals as less serious or less successful while Norwegian professionals may view the US professionals as being to strict and promoting inequality.

Lack of Cultural Self-Awareness
In everyday life we naturally accept what is familiar without thinking about how our culture effects "what is familiar" which leads to a lack of self-awareness for our own culture
Americans assume other cultures understand "what is familiar" to the US and thus see us the way we see ourselves. In reality, other cultures view us very differently, i.e. Most Americans believe other American are too lazy while Indians view Americans as hurried with too much to do, never enjoying the leisure of life

Projected Similarity
Subconscious and conscious assumptions that lead to the belief that other persons have had similar life experiences and thus understand and share the same views
Reality: The journey from Point A to Point B is very different in each culture
Illusions of Understanding
(self and collective)

"I understand you perfectly, but you don't understand me"
Each party assumes mutual understanding. Only later does each party wonder why the other did not abide to the previous communication
LATINA 1: We're going to the Orange Bowl in Miami this weekend.
LATINA 2: What fun! I wish I were going to the game with you. How long are you going to be there?
LATINA 1: Three days. [I hope she'll offer me a ride to the airport.]
LATINA 2: [She may want me to give her a ride. Do you need a ride to the airport? I'll take you.
LATINA 1: Are you sure it's not too much trouble?
LATINA 2: It's no trouble at all.
LATINA: We're going to the Orange Bowl in Miami this weekend.
IRISH AMERICAN: What fun! I wish I were going to the game with you. How long are you going to be there?
LATINA: Three days. [I hope she'll offer me a ride to the airport.]
IRISH AMERICAN: [If she wants a ride, she will ask.] Well, have a great time.
LATINA: [If she had wanted to give me a ride, she would have offered it. I'd better ask somebody else.] Thanks. I'll see you when I get back.
Cross-Cultural Communication Confusion
One Culture Communication: Send and Receiver Share Understanding
Source: Ting-Toomey, S., & Chung, L. (2005).
Understanding Intercultural Communication
(pp. 176-177). Los Angeles, Calif.: Roxbury Pub.
Source: TEDxBergen. (2014, October 21). Cross cultural communication | Pellegrino Riccardi | TEDxBergen. Retrieved from https:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMyofREc5Jk&x-yt-ts=1421914688&x-yt-cl=84503534#t=27
Chinese Fable: The Wrong Audience
Kung-Ming I was an accomplished musician on the chin, the seven-string zither, the Chinese scholar's instrument. Excellent though he was, he has one great failing: he didn't care a snapped string about his audience and paid no attention to the response of the audience who came to hear him play.
Kung-Ming has studied the instrument in the old=school belief that it is the way to purity and harmony with the universe. To Kung-Ming playing the chin was meditation: he withdrew into himself, thought only lofty thoughts, and cared nothing about the effects of his music on his listeners. To enhance his purity, he often played the chin in secluded pavilion or on the banks of an icy mountain stream. He best liked playing alone under a full moon on a hillside overlooking the town.
One day Kung-Ming came upon a meadow bright with sunshine and wildflowers and a brown cow grazing on clover. The scene was so sunny and peaceful that Kung-Ming was moved to bring out his chin, to celebrate the meadow, the sun, the brown cow. He plucked from the strings a run of sound so joyous it made his own heart sing.
The sun shone one, the meadow bloomed, the cow grazed on and did not even lift his head.
Slightly annoyed, Kung-Ming produced a series of trills and ripples like the warbling of songbirfs and the burbling of brooks, sounds so beautiful he felt himself almost melt away to become one with the meadow, the hillside, the brook, the brown cow.
The sun shone on, the brook burbled on, and the brown cow continued grazing, though she twitched an ear and flicked her tail at the flies on her back.
Throughly annoyed, Kung-Ming struck two loud, discordant notes - Twannnggg!! Zzzinnnggg!!
"Mooooo!" lowed the cow, lifting her head to look mournfully at Kung-Ming before going back to munching grass.
"Verily I had the wrong audience. " said Kung-Ming to himself. He left the meadow a wiser musician, with an awakened appreciation of those who came to hear his music.
Source: Nunes, S.S. & Tay-Audouard, L.K. (2013).
Chinese Fables: "The Dragon Slayer" and Other Timeless Tales of Wisdom."
Rutland, Vermont: Tuttle.
Evaluation: Act of judging situations, words people, actions, behaviors, etc as good or bad

Misevaluation comes from incorrectly assigning "good" and/or "bad" titles to situations, words people, actions, behaviors, etc.

How do we decide what is good? What is bad?

Natural and Normal Unnatural or Abnormal
Is Similar Is Different
Is Familiar Is New

So how do top managers avoid miscommunication and misevaluation?
1. Acknowledge that you "know what you don't know"
2. Place observation above evaluation
3. Attempt to understand communication through the eyes of the sender
4. Treat your interpretations as a best guess not an ultimate certainty
Source: Cross-Culture Communication: Good Collaboration is a Must. (n.d.). Retrieved January 26, 2015, from http://www.mindtools.com/CommSkll/Cross-Cultural-communication.htm
By Mindtools.com
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