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How Do People Develop Cross Cultural Communication Skills?

Our world is interconnected now more than ever. As a result, the social and work environment has become more diverse, requiring accurate cultural representation. So, how do people develop cross cultural communication skills? 

The secret to the success of any organisation is effective communication. However, the workplaces have become more diverse. Remote working teams are now scattered across the globe. This begets the need for understanding different cultural influential factors. And by doing so, we can develop effective cross cultural human interactions.

The internet has changed the way businesses and organisations operate. Businesses that used to sell to a single demographic have now expanded. Consequently, they now cater to various geographic locations and span numerous cultures. Hence, developing cross cultural communication skills is important. Now, it has converged into a vital part of organisational success.

Table of Contents

What Are Cross Cultural Communication Skills?

Cross cultural communication skills help us participate within a given setting effectively. It is the technique of understanding both differences and similarities among cultural groups. In other words, cross cultural communication refers to adaptations. People from various cultural backgrounds adapt to improve communication.

Cross Cultural Communication Skills

Understanding how cultural factors influence workplace communication between people and organisations is crucial. It is more important in today’s fast-changing professional environment. 

Thus, we have to develop strong cross cultural communication abilities. It is the first step in developing a successful work environment. Moreover, it brings out the best in all of an organisation’s team members.

How Do People Develop Cross Cultural Communication Skills?

So, how do people develop cross cultural communication skills? Even when a language barrier is not the problem, cross cultural communication can still be tricky. Because every culture has its own set of tendencies and assumptions. Read on to learn how do people develop cross cultural communication skills. 

The top 8 strategies you need to adapt yourself in a cross cultural business environment are:

Do Not Indulge In Preconceptions & Stereotypes

Over time, we have all picked up some form of stereotype. And we all have a predetermined notion about different cultures in some way. Stereotypes are broad assumptions about a certain group of individuals. However, it does not necessarily correspond to reality. 

free your mind

As a result, we should cease seeing things in black and white. Consequently, it would help if you stopped categorising deeds as good or bad. Instead, try first to understand the motivation behind a behaviour or deed. Being open-minded and facilitating a deeper relationship will only benefit you and your staff. 

So, tomorrow when you walk into your office, leave all your personal opinions of cultures different from yours at the entrance. Consequently, you have to learn how to embrace the diversity of your co-worker’s culture. Then, you will definitely see a huge shift in the aura of your workspace. 

Speak Slowly & In A Detailed Manner

Speaking thoroughly does not mean speaking at a snail’s speed.  It might backfire and be another method to offend your peers. However, speaking at an inconveniently high speed isn’t a smart idea either. 

speak slowly

It is preferable for you to speak at a slower speed. You will be able to speak more clearly and correctly enunciate your words. And your audience will be able to grasp what you are trying to convey. 

Allow your listener time to translate and digest your words. You can do so by breaking your sentences into short, distinct chunks. Sometimes, the person you’re conversing with might be speaking too quickly. Moreover, their thick accent might make it difficult to understand them. In these contexts, respectfully ask them to slow down as well.

Be A Proactive Listener

Active listening is a proven method for improving cross cultural communication. Did you ever ask yourself how do people develop cross cultural communication skills? Being a proactive listener will definitely crack the list of top 3 strategies.

Proactive Listener

Always listen actively when a colleague or client is expressing his concerns. And give importance to their thoughts. After they’ve finished saying their part, summarise what you understood from the conversation. Moreover, ask questions frequently for better interpretation. Finally, ask questions if any part of the conversation was incomprehensible for you.

Asking follow-up questions ensure that you do not miss out on any important details. Consequently, you can air it out if there is any misunderstanding. Furthermore, active engagement and proactive listening are important skills. It will help build up a good rapport with your colleagues and clients.

Be Wary Of Humour In Workplace

In many cultures, humour has no place in business. Business and workplace should run on strict protocols, adhering to professionalism. In such situations, it is best not to make a context reduced joke. Otherwise, you might offend your colleague or client belonging to a different culture.

Humour In Workplace

If you wish to be funny and break the ice with a new co-worker, try starting with light humour first. However, British humour is often hard to crack. So, having an impeccable sense of context is necessary to be funny and appropriate at the same time.

So, it is best to invite your colleagues and clients for a casual dinner and weigh in their culture and views. Make jokes that colleagues will appreciate you for and not get offended with. It is one of the best decorum to avoid cultural conflict in the workplace.

Avoid Asking Close Ended Questions

You might get off on the wrong foot by asking “Yes/ No” questions to your client. Often times, your co-worker might feel hesitant to reply in the negative. It happens, as many cultures frown upon turning down an offer. So always ask open-ended questions in order to understand their views on a matter. 

close ended questions to ask

For instance, avoid asking your Muslim colleagues whether he wants to join you for a pint at the bar later after work. Rather ask them what their view is on drinking. And, you can enlighten yourself with their practices.

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Avoid Slangs

Not even the most educated non-native English speakers have the knowledge of a comprehensive list of local slang and idioms. Your non-native client or colleague may have a hard time understanding the context in which you meant it. 

Avoid Slang

Different individuals interpret words differently. It can occur even when speaking the same language and using the same words. Hence, be careful with choosing the right words to communicate with them. Otherwise, your colleagues or business partners may get confused. In the worst-case scenario, you may even end up offending them. 

Do Your Research

Prepare for and learn about the various cultures with whom your company interacts. That is what cultural awareness in the workplace entails. In contrast, the attitude of your company toward cultural sensitivity should start at the top. Incorporate cultural sensitivity into your company policy. 

It will assist your staff in understanding the necessity of treating everyone with respect.  Expression of respect should not factor in different cultural backgrounds. 

Do Your Research

Establish repercussions for not being culturally sensitive. After all, ensuring that your employees pay enough importance to this issue is very necessary. If your organisation does business with people from a specific country, provide training to your employees. So, they may learn about the cultural norms of that country. You can even participate in the training yourself and lead by example. 

Get your customer representative team acquainted with the languages of countries you do business with. It is one of the best pro-tip on how do people develop cross cultural communication skills. 

Be Respectful & Empathetic

Being culturally sensitive has one main goal: to show people respect. Cultural traditions are important to every employee, customer, and partner. Make an effort to learn about their traditions. Share in their customs to show them how much you cherish your relationship with them.

empathetic communication

Bring a treat to share with a Hindu colleague on the day of Diwali, a big religious holiday. If a customer is from another country and a national holiday is observed, wish him well on that day. Demonstrating the value of cultural awareness in the workplace is important. A small act of kindness can make someone remember your gesture forever!

How To Develop Awareness Of Individual Culture?

Every culture is different. And it has a different perspective of seeing things around the world. So before you learn how do people develop cross cultural communication skills, growing awareness of individual culture is imperative.

For instance, kissing your colleague or business partner in the UK is not an acceptable decorum. However, in France, a peck on each cheek is an everyday routine greeting. Furthermore, silence throughout a conversation is a crucial feature in Asian cultures. It indicates good listening skills. 

If you pose a question in a business situation in Asia, you might not get a response right away. The quiet between the inquiry and the answer is considered acceptable. The reason is, it demonstrates that the people involved are paying attention. In addition, it means that they are carefully contemplating what they say.

developing self awareness

People from the United Kingdom, France and the United States, on the other hand, see silence as an awkward aspect of the conversation. And they try to fill it as quickly as possible. When interacting with Asian business colleagues, this may indicate that you are not paying attention. They might think you are not listening attentively enough.

In a broader context, global communication takes place in a common language. However, you have to understand the different cultural contexts of the sender and receiver of the message. It helps build an effective communication strategy.

You do not need to dive into cultures and subcultures. A fundamental understanding of cultural variety is the key to good cross cultural communication. That is the most important thing to recognise.  

There are people and groups whose first language, or preferred language, is not the same as ours. We must all learn how to interact more effectively with them. Rest assured, it does not necessitate studying individual cultures and languages in depth. 

Ensuring Success Of Business With Effective Cross Cultural Communication

It’s critical to learn how to deal with cross cultural differences ahead of time. It can help you to connect effectively with people from different cultures in the workplace. Building trust with your business partners is the best approach to communicate. 

This can be accomplished by researching. And being aware of cross cultural communication differences before any encounter always prevents regrets. In addition, this proactive attitude demonstrates to your partners that you care about the success of your collaboration.

Effective Cross Cultural Communication

It’s also crucial to understand the dos and don’ts of your interactions. Businesses will succeed in cross cultural communication if they are adequately prepared. For example, disagreements are common and more vehemently expressed in French, German cultures. However, people in Thailand and Brazil let that disagreement know in a gentle and subtle way. 

Understanding the nuances of different cultures is crucial. It helps you to be wary before getting into business with them. Consequently, invest in the right tools and professional assistance. It will go a long way to make your business succeed.  

Some companies use foreign language consultants. They assist companies in bridging the gap between cross cultural communication. Moreover, you can hire communications experts in the country where you do business. Professionals, such as marketing copywriters, need thorough training on cross cultural communication and references too. After all, they guarantee that the marketing message is delivered authentically. Also, the delivered message is in the language of the locals.

Learn more about cross cultural communication for a successful business from this Effective Communication Skills Course.

Effective Communication Skills
Get clear concept about great communication and thus improve your professional relationships.
Effective Communication Skills
Get clear concept about great communication and thus improve your professional relationships.


So, how do people develop cross cultural communication skills? To summarise, awareness is the key. Observe how people of different cultures communicate with you online or in person. Take points of whether they are more direct or formal in their interactions. 

Consequently, be aware of relevant historical data and cities. Learn the geographical facts of places your company has vested interest in. There is nothing more embarrassing than presenting inaccurate facts about the cultural, societal, economic and geographic issues of a country.

Hence, always hone your cultural rapport. Consequently, go above and beyond your comfort zone. It is the key to managing international business relationships. We are hominizing global culture. Thus, we can not take the different cultural tendencies for granted any longer.

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January 24, 2022

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