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Do you work in an international environment? Do you have thoughts like:

  • ”They don’t understand me!”
  • ”I am overseen.”
  • “I am misunderstood!”
  • “I am not heard!”

Do you struggle with these thoughts daily?

Depending on the cultural background, there are different communication styles. There are cultures who communicate their points straight forward, and others who talk between the lines. How people give feedback, how people criticize depends on their personality but first and foremost on their cultural background.

For example, in the US and other Anglo-Saxon cultures, people communicate as literally and explicitly as possible. By contrast, in many Asian cultures, like India, China, Japan and so on, messages are often conveyed implicitly, requiring the listener to read between the lines. There is a subtle and layered nature to communication in these countries.

Neither one nor the other is right or wrong. But you can imagine, if people of different communication styles talk to each other, there might be misunderstandings.

Maybe you are just in such a situation, in which you feel not heard by your colleagues or boss.

From that point of view, everything is going just right, nothing went wrong, and nothing is wrong with you. Wouldn’t it be strange if communication went smoothly in such a situation? You just face cross-cultural challenges. Knowing that already can be a huge relief.

So, how can you deal with these different communication-styles if you work in a global context? Obviously, you need to communicate with people in order to work effectively and efficiently. Your goal is to get things done.

If you work with people from around the world, it helps a lot to just recognize and allow the fact that there are cultural differences in terms of leading, communication, management…-styles, which requires probably more patience and openness.

If you don’t do so, your default mechanism will be to view others through your own cultural lens and to judge or misjudge them accordingly, which creates a disconnect between both parties.

So the different cultures as such do not create inefficiency and disconnect. The disconnect results from the way you interpret what other people say or do, since your interpretation is through your own limited lens.

Actually, this is good news because now it is up to you to get interested, uncover and identify, what the other person is really talking about. Or the other way around to investigate the best way to make your point, even in a foreign culture.

So, your first step would be to create an awareness of cultural differences as well as respect for individual differences in order to communicate or lead successfully.

Mostly subconsciously, we have learned a certain communication style and see the world through this cultural lens.

What we see and think impact what we feel and do. So if you have thoughts like “I am not heard” like mentioned above you may become frustrated, shy or hesitant, followed by slowing down, slowly loosing your confidence, your motivation and original passion to work. As a result, you don’t work at your potential, loosing track and can’t make an impact.

In contrast, if you would have the thought, “These people just communicate differently, and I will find out how to be heard,” it will set you in a totally different situation. Doing so, you would be open to their communication style, ask questions, be curious, find out, learn ….. This will likely lead to a better connection between your own culture and other cultures, thus closing the gap.

If you are interested in more, book a 20-Minute free orientation call. It is a start to become more effective as a businessperson. Level-up your career by getting things done in a global world.