There’s no formal definition for intercultural business communications. However, the term is a loose umbrella definition of the interaction between people from different cultural backgrounds. Through the interactions, teams aim to achieve a shared understanding of messages.
Intercultural business communications are crucial in any business setup. Notably, effective workplace communication boosts productivity by about 25%. It also increases employee retention by an average of 4.5 times. Intercultural business communication overlaps with other disciplines like
- Public policy
- Political science
Beyond its definition, intercultural communication has another meaning in a business relationship. Expressively, it refers to the specific activities and behaviors resulting from the interaction of two or more cultures. What’s the importance of intercultural communication, and how can businesses promote it? Let’s delve into the details.
Over the next 20 years, 47% of population growth in the United States will constitute Latino/Americans. African Americans will make up 22% of population growth, while other minority groups and Asian Americans will take up 18% of the increase. Consequently, approximately one-third of the US workforce will comprise immigrants, primarily non-English speakers.
Undoubtedly, businesses will need to incorporate intercultural business communications more than they’re currently doing. Doing so will enhance things like:
- Developing a hiring process that embraces candidates from diverse cultural backgrounds
- Fostering existing client relationships locally and in different countries
- Improving internal cross-cultural business communication within an intercultural team
By embracing growth-oriented diversity initiatives and client relationships, companies can positively impact most aspects of their local and international business.
As the business landscape becomes more global, companies should look at ways to support cross-cultural communication within their teams. Part of the process entails consulting with other business people who’ve interacted with global businesses within cultures you’re unfamiliar with. Consequently, you’ll be in a better position to learn the history, politics, customs, and religion of those regions. Additional strategies include:
1. Educate Yourself and the Team
Numerous eye-opening ways to educate yourself and your team about other cultures exist. For example, you could encourage your team to learn about each other’s home country, culture, customs, language, standards, and history.
Besides, various online resources provide information about other cultures. To illustrate, some online tutors teach their audience about various cultural dimensions from different parts of the world. When a company embraces educating itself about different cultures, it gains an all-rounded view of other cultures with an open mindset.
2. Embrace Agility
Unwillingness to embrace change in the workplace is one of the common barriers to< effective employee communication. People are usually unwilling to accept new things because of an unconscious fear that embracing change will tamper with their own culture. Sadly, such assumptions can be detrimental to organizational growth if left unquestioned.
An organization must invest in continuous improvement, which calls for flexibility and a willingness to do things differently. While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to this, an excellent method would be to start at an individual level. Encourage everyone to step out of their comfort zone and embrace a new business culture in the business environment.
3. Acknowledge and Honor Multiple Cultural Backgrounds
Has your company ever considered introducing a policy that honors various cultural and religious practices? Creating a culture of inclusivity is crucial for the success of diversity efforts. Moreover, it paints your brand as non-discriminative and draws talent from different locations. Having diverse cultures in the workplace benefits engagement and productivity.
Other creative tips for honoring diverse cultural backgrounds include:
- Setting aside a day when employees share acceptable cultural practices in the business context. For example, you can have a day where everyone brings a type of food from their culture to share with the team.
- Leveraging digital signage to display various cultural content for educational or entertainment purposes. Likewise, you can leverage digital signage content to teach employees the different languages represented in your business.
- Posting signs in your employees’ languages to share cultural information.
- Having a glossary for commonly used abbreviations and acronyms unique to your business
- Encouraging face-to-face communication for both English and non-English speakers. One-on-one communication conveys a lot of information through body language.
Intercultural communication is one vital aspect of a company’s overall communication strategy. As such, improving in this area can be an excellent step towards maximizing the teams and overall business performance.
In addition, learning the foundations of intercultural business communications provides the necessary skills to understand the factors that influence workplace communication. Showing your employees that you care about effective communication is the best way to bridge communication gaps. Moreover, it can boost employee retention regardless of cultural differences.