How to Master Intercultural Communication

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Interacting with people from other cultures can be fascinating.  Whether you are abroad or on home turf, you are often exposed to new and fascinating ways of doing things.  If you are about to take a trip to another country, it is a good idea to brush up on the culture and traditions in advance of your departure.  This can be instrumental in avoiding potential miscommunication.  If you are dealing with people from many cultures on a routine basis, some fundamental  information about value systems and how people relate in certain parts of the world can be invaluable. It will help you know how to interact in an appropriate way. Concentrating on five basic categories will give you a running start when interacting with individuals from other cultures.

INDIVIDUALISTIC and COLLECTIVISTIC CULTURES

Individualistic Cultures foster individualism and focus on individual goals.
There is a preference for ‘equal’ relationships, and behavior cannot be predicted from group memberships.  Representative Cultures: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Sweden and the United States.

Collectivistic Cultures focus on group goals. There is strong emphasis on traditions and conformity. Representative Cultures:  Argentina, Brazil, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, Greece, Guatemala, India, Japan, Korea, Mexico and Saudi Arabia.

MASCULINE and FEMININE CULTURES

Masculine Cultures have differentiated gender roles and are characterized by power, assertiveness and performance. Representative Cultures: Arab cultures, Austria, Germany, Italy,Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Switzerland and Venezuela.

Feminine Cultures value quality of life and service. Sex roles are androgynous. Feminine cultures have overlapping gender roles. Representative Cultures: Chile, Costa Rica, Denmark, East African cultures, Finland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden and Thailand.

LOW and HIGH POWER DISTANCE CULTURES

With Low Power Distance Cultures, individuals are viewed as equals. Emphasis is placed on legitimate power. Superiors and subordinates are interdependent. Representative Cultures: Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Israel, New Zealand, Sweden and the United States.

With High Power Distance Cultures, individuals are seen as unequal. Subordinates are dependent on those above them. Representative Cultures: Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Malaysia, Nigeria, Panama, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.

LOW and HIGH UNCERTAINTY AVOIDANCE CULTURES

Low Uncertainty Avoidance Cultures are characterized by low stress and anxiety. Dissent is acceptable. There is a high level of risk taking. Uncertainty is OK. Representative Cultures: Canada, Denmark, England, Hong Kong, India, Jamaica, Sweden and the United States.

High Uncertainty Avoidance Cultures are characterized by high stress and anxiety. There is a strong desire for agreement. People do not like to take risks. Representative Cultures: Egypt, Argentina, Belgium, Chile, France, Greece, Japan and Mexico.

LOW CONTEXT and HIGH CONTEXT COMMUNICATION

High Content/Low Context Messages are direct and clear with most of the message explicit in the code. This form predominates in individualistic cultures.

High Context/Low Content Messages are indirect and ambiguous. Most of the information is internalized in the person or his surroundings. This form is found more typically in collectivistic cultures.

Be  aware of cultural differences and how they should impact your communication.  When you’re not sure how to proceed, be respectful.  That goes a long way in successfully establishing relationships.
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Article Author: Carol Dunitz, Ph.D.

Carol Dunitz, Ph.D. is president of The Last Word LLC, a communication and creative services company.  She is a professional speaker and author of ‘Louder Than Thunder,’ a parable about listening and interpersonal communication.  Dunitz is the playwright, lyricist and composer of ‘Bernhardt on Broadway,’ a musical about Sarah Bernhardt.  She can be reached at 312.523.4774, cdunitz@lastword.com or www.DrCarolDunitz.com.

Article Source: http://www.articlealley.com/article_1175282_15.html

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Why Observing Foreign Culture Can Lead To Business Success

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In the world of business, English is widely acknowledged as the universal language.  However, despite using a common language, it is not uncommon for misunderstandings to occur.  Differences in cultural and business practices mean that business travelers should be aware of varying customs, etiquette and cultural differences when conducting business abroad.

When conducting international business, it is extremely important for business representatives to be aware of different cultural beliefs and behaviour.  After all, behaviour which might be considered normal in a UK boardroom could be radically different to behaviour expected in Saudi Arabia or China.  As a result, failure to understand foreign business practices and customs can create insurmountable barriers to successful business relations.  Conversely, taking a little time to learn these cultural differences can reap rewards and help build strong business relationships.

The age-old saying “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” is sometimes a wise adage to bear in mind when conducting business with foreign clients.  In the UK, for example, meetings are often business-like and tend to follow a rigid time-based structure where points are debated at given times.  However, in Japan and other Asian countries, there is great importance attached to courtesy and hospitality which can cause delays and prevent keeping to a strict schedule.

Certainly, in many parts of Asia, forming a personal relationship in your business dealings is very important.  Although it can take time to build, once a relationship has been developed, it tends to last for a very long time and can be advantageous over the more ‘shallow’ relationships found in Europe and the United States.  In some business cultures, establishing friendships can be a potent business tool, so it is important to take the time to establish such relationships with prospective clients.

Another important cultural difference to observe is the difference in greeting business counterparts.  In the UK, a firm hand-shake is considered polite as is making brief eye-contact.  In China, bowing or nodding is the common greeting, and although shaking hands is becoming a popular form of greeting, this should be initiated by the host.

Personal space should also be observed according to the dominant culture.  In the UK and Europe, personal space is valued and an acceptable distance should be kept.  However, in some southern European countries and Asia, personal space is much decreased so that what could be perceived as intimate in the north is akin to normal conversational distance in the south.

Regardless of the location of business meetings, whether in the boardroom of a London Company or the restaurant of a business hotel in Dubai, it is important to be aware of the many cultural differences that exist between east and west, north and south.  While some traits are worldwide, such as ensuring punctuality at the start of a meeting, other traits are much more subtle.  Taking the time to understand those traits and the differences in cultural and business etiquette can mean the difference between business success and an unsigned contract.
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Article Author: Adam Singleton

Adam Singleton is an online, freelance journalist and keen amateur photographer.  His portfolio, called Capquest Photography is available to view online.

Article Source: http://www.articlealley.com/article_178324_15.html

About the Author:  http://netpressarticles.com/

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Business Etiquette in Abu Dhabi – “The Dance of Negotiation”

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With the ever increasing trend of globalization, navigating the different aspects of cultures the world over is ever becoming a prominent issue and skill. This is as true as ever when it comes down to the world of business where even the slightest cultural mistake could jeopardize a deal.

In this regard Abu Dhabi comes as no exception to the rule and business persons travelling to the city should be well versed in the cultural norms and practices. Though the city appears to be well westernized it still features a strong layer of Arabian culture and tradition that cannot be ignored.

One of the key things that negotiators should remember is to always broadcast politeness and good manners in all their dealings. This is an extremely important part of the Arabic culture and when having a business meeting one should not hurry the matter. Hospitality is vital and most discussions will be had over a meal. Take your time, sip the tea and enjoy your host’s hospitality before eventually moving to the subject on hand.  This is vital because of the importance of relationships in negotiations and business dealings in Abu Dhabi. Do not get offended by interruptions such as phone calls, the atmosphere in Abu Dhabi is always relaxed and informal to a certain degree.

Another important point to remember is that though many of the corporations are structured like those in the rest of the world, top level executives are usually family based. So it is vital to find out who the ultimate decision maker is when trying to negotiate or finalize a deal.  In unusual fashion, your word is your bond meaning that if you promised something even verbally you are expected to keep your word even if there is no written agreement.

These are just some of the important parts to keep in mind when negotiating business deals in Abu Dhabi and your success depends on it. When travelling on business, the corporate traveller will find a range of hotels in Abu Dhabi to choose from. The Kingsgate Hotel Abu Dhabi provides an accommodation option with a range of facilities for the business traveller.

Author: Pushpitha Wijesinghe

Article Source: http://www.articlealley.com/article_1192401_29.html

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