Communication is an essential part of daily life of every individual. Without proper communication our ideas and views cannot be informed to others.
Usually communication process starts when a need arise to convey the message to another. Communication refers to the process of exchanging ideas and facts from one person to another. “Communication may be defined as the process by which an individual (or group of individuals) transmits information about ideas, feelings and intentions to another person (or group of persons)” (Pennington, 2002, p.12).
Different factors influence the communication process. Some of them are culture, language…etc. Cultural differences of the people in a group/team affect effective communication among them both positively and negatively. This paper dwells on this aspect using a descriptive approach.
The culture has a significant influence on the communication process. The cultural differences can create conflicts and misunderstanding between parties involved in the communication process (Monippally, 2001, p.45). Culture’ has often been defined in simplistic terms as life-style of people of a community.
But culture means much more; it encompasses various attitudinal and behavioral dimensions such as values, beliefs, expectations, norms, etc. All these make culture a complex thing to understand and has drawn the attention of researchers to study the various dimensions of culture and its impact on the people living within that culture.
Within a culture there may be various sub-cultures on the basis of ethnic groups, religious groups, professions, etc., and differences exist among them. Many studies by behavioral scientists prove that all the people who belong to a particular culture have similarity in their thinking and behavior.
Culture differs from one group to another and these differences can affect the level of trust and openness in communication that one can achieve with people of other cultures. Therefore the cultural difference should be properly understood in order to ensure an effective communication.
We can communicate effectively in a cross-cultural context if we understand how one culture differs from another and on what basis. The commonly known cultural differences are;
a. Contextual: Cultural contexts have a major influence on the way people interpret messages. High-context cultures like Taiwan or South Korea rely more on non-verbal communication than verbal communication; wheras low-context culture like the US or Germany, rely more on verbal communication than non-verbal communication.
b. Social Differences: Social behavior is another distinguishing factor among cultures.
c. Non-Verbal Differences: It is very important to understand the differences in the meanings which non-verbal communication conveys in the context of diversified cultures. The simplest hand gesture may signify different meaning from one culture to another.
My personal experience in a cricket match, in which I got the chance to lead the state team, helped me to understand the role of proper communication in the achievement of objectives.
As I understood the concepts like culture, communication it would be easy for me to analyze how these concepts are relevant in personal experiences. Hofstede’s Cultural Dimension will be useful for studying the impact of culture on communication. According to him, the culture of the people who are only cautious of themselves (I-conscious) would be different from the culture of people who care for others too (We -conscious).
And also the differential consideration by the society to men and women, the approach of people in the lower strata of the society towards the social difference and the attitude of people to avoid uncertainty depict the culture of the people. Here in my personal experience the cultural difference related to the individualism-collectivism is present.
It was a Sunday when the final match of the tournament was going to be played. My team was one of the finalists. I was the captain of the team and the team members consist of players from the different localities of the state. For both the team, the match was crucial as it was the problem of image and status.
More over it was a national level tournament. Our team batted first and scored a defendable total. But when the opposite team started batting, unfortunately our fielders started loosing the catches sand missing the fields. I knew that the communication is not becoming effective as there are players of different culture. Some players are not taking into consideration my words as a captain of the team.
A good captain means a good leader. To be a good leader one must of some essential qualities including proper communication skill. Especially when leading a team of different culture the captain should be well versed in cross-cultural communication; otherwise success would be a question mark. That was happened in my case.
I treated this captaincy also as just like the captaincy of my local team in which I know everyone and there are no much cultural differences. However, things were not like that and really paid value for negligence from my part and we lost the match. The reasons were lack of proper communication between team members, lack of coordination…etc.
One problem that I noticed during the match was that when a team member achieves any good performance, the way of appreciation was different by different team members as they are from different parts of the state. Everyone tried to implement their own culture resulting in total problem in the team.
If these all possible difficulties had been discussed before the match no problems might have arisen. The communication between the members of the team is essential for the success of the team. If I would have understood this before the commencement of mach I could have designed strategies accordingly and the cultural barriers could have been overcome, thereby increasing the chance of victory.
Now I have deep understanding of the concepts like communication, culture, cross cultural communication, team work…etc. Also the lessons learned from my previous experience would I think help me in future. In case if I am getting chance to lead the same team again, I will design the strategy by considering the cultural differences.
If team members feel that their personal interests are protected by the captain and co-members they perform their level best to bring the success. For creating such feeling a proper communication has a significant role to play.
In future I will not be repeating the mistake I explained earlier in my personal experience and I would be giving enough consideration for the difference culture of the individuals I deal with. In order to be a good communicator one must be a good listener. If a person does not have the mind to listen what others say, he is not going to succeed. In my future I will consider all these things in mind.
Communication without considering the cultural difference may not give expected result in majority of the cases. To communicate effectively with people of other culture, understanding their culture is very important. Understanding their culture removes the attitudinal and behavioral barriers in communication. Without understanding the culture, communication can lead to misunderstanding.
Monippally, m. Matthukutty. Business Communication Strategies. Tata McGraw-Hill, 2001
Pennington, C. Donald. The social psychology of behavior in small groups. Psychology Press, 2002