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What is Intercultural Business Communication?

Updated on March 8, 2011

The ability to communicate, negotiate and effectively work with people from other cultures is vital to international business. Intercultural communication looks at how people from different cultures understand one another and work together efficiently. Being an ideal intercultural communicator involves learning the norms, customs, values and beliefs of another culture, being able to recognize how these are portrayed through both verbal and nonverbal communication and successfully incorporate this information into your own communication.

What is Communication?

Communication can be defined as the process of receiving, interpreting and responding to messages. Communication is both verbal and nonverbal. Being able to effectively communicate is a highly regarded skill in business. When speakers come from different cultures, they must work to successfully communicate with one another. 

What is Culture?

Culture is learned behavior patterns, which are mutually agreed upon by a group of people. Having a set culture allows everyday behaviors progress without needing to questions every interaction. Manners, traditions and customs are understood and accepted. Greetings, etiquette, and gender roles, differ in various cultures. It is necessary to understand these norms during business interactions

Why is it Important to Understand Other Cultures?

There is no one “right” culture and because of this it shouldn’t be expected for one culture to completely conform to another. International Business is expanding. Many companies are going global. Recruitment, sales, management, marketing and workplace environment are all affected by cultures within your organization. It is important to note that a company does not need to be international to have different cultures within it. Any organization with employees from diverse religions, languages or nationality brings different cultures to a company. Misunderstandings can occur when employees are not knowledgeable on intercultural communication. These misunderstandings can result in poor employee moral, low retention, and low company cohesion.

How to Learn About Other Cultures?

It’s easy to learn about other cultures, many resources are available online as well as in text.  Be careful to only use credible sources and ignore stereotypes.  A stereotype is based on little evidence is an incorrect statement about a group of people. Is better to use generalizations, which are based on research and observations of people by professionals. Generalizations give a fairly accurate depiction of a culture. It’s important to remember a person is not just his culture and to use generalizations as a starting point towards effective communication.

How to Create Intercultural Understanding in My Company?

The best way is to implement a Cultural Education department within your HR. Promote an environment where diversity is welcomed and encouraged. Use surveys within the company to determine the intercultural competence level of your employees. This will help to target challenges and target areas for training. Develop seminars, events and conferences that train employees on what culture is, how to understand those from other cultures and the benefits of a diverse company. Ensure the management teams recognize the benefits of a multicultural business including diverse viewpoints and adaptability of employees. Time will not be wasted attempting to overcome cross-cultural misunderstandings, which can increase productivity. Your company will develop an advantage over the competition because your staff will value diversity and will be better equipped to communicate with others in international business settings.


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    • dhimanreena profile image

      Reena Dhiman 3 years ago

      Now, business has crossed the boundaries of a country. Therefore, to survive and thrive in the business world, it is indispensable to maintain good intercultural business communication. Your hub has clearly explained the importance of it and I like the way you have covered all basic things related to it.