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Strategies for Effective Communication in Diverse Companies


Effective communication is essential in any workplace, but it becomes even more crucial in diverse companies where employees may come from different cultures, speak other languages, and have different communication styles. Effective communication helps to bridge the gaps between different cultures and helps to ensure that everyone is on the same page.


Communication Styles as Culture Dimension

Communication styles refer to how people express themselves verbally and nonverbally and how they perceive and interpret the messages of others. It is different for each person, but there are common traits among people of the same origin. Hence, communication styles are counted as one of the cultural dimensions. They reflect the cultural values and beliefs of a society.


Communication styles significantly impact interpersonal relationships, business negotiations, and international diplomacy. Communication between people of different types can be difficult because it is easy to misunderstand each other even when using the same language. High proficiency in a language doesn’t mean the speaker always follows the communication style. Therefore, learning about communication styles will be a great help.


There are four main communication styles:


Direct/Indirect Communication Style

The direct/indirect communication style refers to the degree to which people are willing to express themselves explicitly and directly. In cultures that prefer a direct communication style, people tend to be very explicit in their language and say what they mean. They value honesty and openness in communication and consider expressing their opinions and feelings important.


On the other hand, in cultures that prefer an indirect communication style, people tend to be more implicit in their language and often use hints or suggestions rather than explicit statements. The skill of reading between the lines is essential. They value harmony and social cohesion in communication and consider it necessary to avoid confrontation and save face for themselves and others.


Low/High-Context Communication Style

The low/high-context communication style refers to the degree to which people rely on contextual cues, such as body language and tone of voice, to convey meaning. In low-context cultures, people rely more on explicit verbal communication and value clarity and precision in language. They may consider nonverbal cues as confusing or misleading and limit their usage in communication.


In high-context cultures, people prefer nonverbal cues and contextual information to convey meaning. They are very attentive when speaking to each other to process more than what is being said. Explicit language can be seen as blunt and disrespectful in this culture.


Emotional Restraint/Emotional Expressiveness

The emotional restraint/emotional expressiveness communication style refers to the degree to which people express their emotions openly and directly. In cultures that value emotional restraint, people would like to suppress or control their feelings in public and avoid displaying them openly. They may view emotional displays as signs of weakness or lack of self-control.


In cultures that value emotional expressiveness, people tend to express their emotions openly and directly and may consider it healthy and natural to do so. They may view emotional displays as a sign of authenticity and sincerity.


Formal/Informal Communication Style

The formal/informal communication style refers to the degree to which people use formal or informal language and behavior. In formal communication cultures, people often use more formal language and behavior in professional and public settings. They value respect and hierarchy in communication and consider it important to follow proper etiquette and protocol.


On the contrary, people from informal communication cultures prefer using more casual language and behavior in social and professional settings. They value egalitarianism in communication and may view formal language as unnecessarily rigid and hierarchical.


Communication styles are not absolute and fixed but rather flexible and dynamic. They may vary within cultures and between individuals depending on the context, the relationship, and the situation. Nevertheless, understanding and adapting to different communication styles can help build trust, respect, and rapport with people from different cultures and enhance the effectiveness of communication in various settings. Therefore, it is crucial to approach communication with an open mind, a curious attitude, and a willingness to learn and adapt to different styles and expectations.


Japan’s Communication Style

Indirect language, nonverbal cues, hierarchy, and politeness characterize Japan’s communication style. Japanese people often use ambiguous or vague language to maintain harmony and avoid causing offense or embarrassment. They rely heavily on nonverbal cues, such as facial expressions and body language, to convey meaning and emotion. Hierarchy is also an essential component of Japanese communication, with people showing respect for authority and using appropriate honorifics when addressing superiors. South Korea, China, and Thailand are some countries with similar communication styles to Japan.


Japan's communication style is high-context and formal


Japan’s communication style differs from Western countries, such as the United States, Australia, Canada, and Germany. People from these countries tend to be more direct, informal, and egalitarian, with people often speaking their minds openly and using casual language. Calling people in higher social positions by their first names is common and socially acceptable.


Knowing someone’s origin can give you a rough idea about their communication style. However, note that countries’ communication styles are generalizations and should not be applied to individuals within those cultures. Additionally, communication styles can vary within a single country or between individuals within the same culture.


Strategies for Effective Communication in Diverse Companies

Learning various communication styles is not enough to create effective communication in a company with multinational employees. Employers or managers should also know how to cross the communication gap and language barriers. Now, we will discuss some strategies for effective communication in diverse companies.


  • Use Clear and Concise Language

When communicating with your colleagues, your language should be clear and concise. Avoid using jargon or technical terms that might be unfamiliar to some people. Additionally, keep in mind that English may not be everyone’s first language, so try to speak slowly and clearly, enunciate your words, and avoid using idioms or slang. Humor and sarcasm also work differently in many languages and cultures, so you have to be careful.


  • Use Visuals

Visualizations such as charts, diagrams, and images can help communicate complex ideas and concepts more effectively. When working with a diverse group of people, it’s important to remember that not everyone may have the same level of literacy or may not be fluent in the language being used. Visuals can help to communicate information in a way that everyone can understand.


  • Do Cross-check

If you are unsure if your subordinates or colleagues fully understand a task, you can ask them to repeat the task in their words. That way, you can check what information they get and know what you need to improve in your delivery. Do this the very first time the employees work in the company to understand their communication style.


Crosschecking

  • Listen

Effective communication is a two-way street, and it’s just as important to listen as it is to speak. When communicating with colleagues from diverse backgrounds, be sure to listen to their perspectives and ideas actively. Avoid making assumptions or jumping to conclusions based on preconceived notions about their culture or background.


  • Be Respectful

Respect is an essential component of effective communication, particularly in diverse companies. Be respectful of your colleagues’ cultural differences, and avoid making jokes or comments that could be perceived as insensitive or offensive. If you’re unsure about whether something is appropriate, err on the side of caution and avoid saying it.


  • Be Flexible

In diverse companies, different people may have different communication styles or preferences. Some people prefer to communicate through email or instant messaging, while others prefer face-to-face communication. Be flexible and willing to adapt your communication style to accommodate others’ preferences.


  • Encourage Feedback

Encouraging feedback is an essential component of effective communication. When communicating with colleagues from diverse backgrounds, be sure to ask for their input and feedback. This can help to ensure that everyone is on the same page and can help to identify any misunderstandings or areas where communication could be improved.

 

Effective communication is the foundation of diverse companies. By being aware of cultural differences and adapting to them, individuals can improve communication and build stronger relationships with international coworkers. Afterward, by doing the listed strategies, you can help to ensure that communication is effective and productive. Only then can diverse teams work together and achieve great things.

 

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