The differences in communication styles across cultures are highlighted by Pitton and co-authors (1993) in a synthesis of culturally specific nonverbal behaviors. In their report, the authors make generalizations about certain cultures–that some groups find direct eye contact preferable or acceptable, whereas others consider it intrusive, inappropriate, and even shameful. These are body language differences and interpretations that ought to be processed.
Pitton and co-authors suggest that some cultures emphasize the emotional quality of a conversation more than the words or context of the message. Still others consider the expression of emotion to be inappropriate. These culturally learned tendencies can influence communication among members of a diverse group.
For example, members of more reserved cultures may be less inclined to speak out in a group discussion, or, when they do, they speak in low or soft voices, thus allowing the strong, assertive, and loud voices to dominate the conversation (Pitton et al. 1993).
In fact in Australia, author Primerano states that cultural difference is an essential design issue that Wild and Henderson (1997) took note of and where they cited the example of Australian University web pages as not useful to culturally diverse students. It is in this light that the Wild & Henderson suggested that all websites adopt a “culturally appropriate” model of instructional design (Wild and Henderson p. 180 as quoted in Primerano).
They acknowledge that there is a need for people to take into consideration the social and cultural issues that impact a user’s understanding of online technologies. And for people with a non-English speaking background (NESB), that would make a lot of difference. (Primerano).
Meanwhile, communication in high performance teams is the building block of high performing enterprises. They spell wonder and magic to an organization. If a team is recognized and validated, they can set new milestones of greatness for all others to follow. Lines of communication are inherent in their organizational structures.
As opportunities grow, these management teams can be expected to support an increasingly diverse range of human capital resources. (High Performance Retail). What happens when there is cultural diversity present in the teams composed of varying demographic characteristics? We cannot deny the fact that there are more and more of an increased cultural diversity in today’s global organizations. This is combined with the popularity of team-based management techniques.
This makes the influence of cultural differences on work team process and function a significant management issue. Organizations in many parts of the world are experiencing a difficult transition in managing workforce diversity. This is more apparent in the case of multinational organizations that are faced with increasingly multicultural work forces (Adler ; Ghadar, 1990).
One can just think and consider the requirements for coordination, cooperation, and communication, and its concomitant requirement and the management of multicultural interactions becomes an issue of primary importance.
When there are so many variables in a diverse culture–demographic variables such as age, sex, socioeconomic status, and geographic location and ethnographic variables such as nationality, race, ethnicity, language, and religion, the manager needs to prepare his employees so that they will be able to interact with each other and communicate effectively with each other.
The working environment may be less than ideal. The people may struggle with personal shortcomings. Yet for people whose lines of communication are open and who focus on transforming the inevitable stumbling blocks into stepping-stones, the progress is continuous. They trust that in the end they will make it. More often than not, they do.
Adler, N.J. ; Ghadar, F. 1990. International strategy from the perspective of people and culture: The North American context. In A.M. Rugman (Ed.), Research in global strategic management: International business research for the twentyfirst century (pp.179-205). Greenwich, CT: JAI Press
High Performance Retail, What does great performance look like? Accessed 5 Sept 2006 at: http://www.refresher.com/hprteams.html