Understanding Cross cultural Communication

By Vikas Mehra April 01, 2021


“We could learn a lot from crayons, some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull, some have weird names and all our different colors. But they all fit nicely into the same box”.

Robert Fulgham

The way of communicating and exchanging ideas in different cultures can be referred to as cross cultural communication. It is a great field of study for people who believe in diversification. Cross cultural communication helps people from distinct cultures to come to a middle ground even when there is nothing in common. There is a huge underlying difference between nationality, ways of thinking, styling, race, caste, gender etcetera. Therefore, cross cultural communication helps the people to understand, communicate and perceive things in the same way as intended by the communicator.

Importance of Cross Cultural Communication

Imbibing cross cultural communication skills help you define your character. Students studying abroad or companies with massive workforce from all across the globe are well acquainted with the idea of cross-cultural communication. It is important for the people to be unbiased and respectful while interacting with people from different walks of life. Welcoming different ideas from different cultures helps to strengthen the cultural difference by keeping you grounded. There are people who consider cultural shock as a negative experience as it might expect you to be out of your comfort zone. Majorly, it is a positive experience as difference in thinking helps in widening your horizon and helps you to have a pragmatic approach.

“Understand the differences, act on the commonalities”

Andrew Masando

Organizations aiming to expand their brand across the globe shall completely incorporate a cross cultural communication approach. Formulation of strategies and implementation of business plans requires a combined effort of employees. The workers from all walks of life come together as a team at one platform and work for the benefit of the organization. Understanding business customs, welcoming opinions in a positive aspect and taking care of the procedures of the company is taken care of only if there is effective cross-cultural communication.

“Every man’s ability may be strengthened or increased by culture”.

John Abbot

Patience is the most vital aspect in cross cultural communication. Having patience can help you communicate effectively and get your work done in a polite manner. Facing challenges is a part of every business therefore, being resilient amidst those challenges is a big deal. Ineffective cross communication will lead to doubts and confusion, however, one will not be able to achieve the desired objectives.

Tips to Follow

“Embracing diversity is one adventure after another, opening new paths of discovery that connect an understanding to caring, listening, and sharing with others who are different than ourselves.” (April Holland)

To avoid complexities in effective communication, one should be able to adapt effective skills of cross-cultural communication. Handling situations being tactful helps in optimal utilization of time and effort. There are certain tips to follow and to start with, firstly, avoid using slangs, formal platforms prohibit the use of slangs. It is very important to understand that even the most educated English language learner will not be able to comprehend the slang as the person is not a native speaker. Instead of using slangs and act cool, you should communicate is comprehended mutually and does not offend the receiver. Secondly, encourage open ended questions rather than close ended. Since close ended questions are answered in a “yes or no”, sometimes the other person might not understand your question and to avoid giving negative feedback, the person might end up giving wrong feedback.

Maintain etiquettes while having a conversation as the other person might feel that you are rude or impatient. Since, every culture has a different way of addressing the other person, one must be careful in addressing their problems and figuring out the solutions. Speaking slowly and having a modulation in your tone of voice can help the other person understand your concern in a better way. Breaking complex sentences into simple sentence structures, giving pauses at the right time, speaking at a normal speed can help the listener to interpret the words said in a better way. As the other person has to translate the words said by you into his language, it is better that the language or the set of words used is plain and simple.

Keeping the communication simple is a plus. Communicating in simple language and not using comprehensive words can help the speaker and the receiver to understand the opinions of each other in a better way. Rather than using ornamental language, it is better to keep the sentences short and simple. Also, be aware while the conversation is taking place. In whichever language the conversation is taking place, keeping your mind active and alert can help you grasp new words and implement new ideas in the most effective way.


"If we are going to live with our deepest differences, then we must learn about one another.” 

Deborah J. Levine

It is often said “Listen before you speak” and for effective cross cultural communication to take place listening is more important than speaking. While communicating, both the sides must make sure that the message of the sender has been understood by the receiver in the same way as intended. Sometimes the conversation requires restating information or summarising the information in an easier way thus, the conversation shall be simple and concise. Last but on least, another aspect to be kept in mind is that writing down the thoughts or opinions can be of great help in order to make the other person understand your thought process.


Reference Links

  1. Bencheikh, F. (2016). Esteban the Moor. [online] Medium. Available at: https://medium.com/culture-shock-sundays/esteban-the-moor-a067cf83a203.
  2. BrainyQuote. (n.d.). John Abbott Quotes. [online] Available at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/john_abbott_182990.
  3. www.geneticcounselingtoolkit.com. (n.d.). Pedigree. [online] Available at: https://www.geneticcounselingtoolkit.com/cases/pedigree/p1.
  4. www.goodreads.com. (n.d.). A quote by Robert Fulghum. [online] Available at: https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/427766-we-could-learn-a-lot-from-crayons-some-are-sharp.
  5. Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association. (2011). Cross Cultural & Diversity Quotes. [online] Available at: https://www.ccpa-accp.ca/cross-cultural-diversity-quotes.
  6. www.1world1way.com. (n.d.). CULTURAL DIVERSITY Quotes. Unity in Diversity, World Cultures, Cultural Sensitivity, One World Many Paths: Admiring Cultural Diversity. [online] Available at: http://www.1world1way.com/coach/quotes_diversity.html .
  7. Cox, C. (2018). Cultural sensitivity — Part of your success in international business. [online] Medium. Available at: https://medium.com/swlh/cultural-sensitivity-part-of-your-success-in-international-business-854e6b52425d.
  8. ElcomSoft blog. (2019). How to Extract and Decrypt Signal Conversation History from the iPhone. [online] Available at: https://blog.elcomsoft.com/2019/08/how-to-extract-and-decrypt-signal-conversation-history-from-the-iphone/.

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