each and every individual within the workforce. There is the greater risk of being misunderstood with the kind of language one uses if one does not take cognizance of the hierarchical and cultural differences. For example, one cannot expect the production people to understand anything if one person would speak to them the in a manner that is used when speaking with the supervisors or executives. In hierarchical organizations, every level develops its own style of language and vocabulary of terms (jargon).
A word or phrase may have a particular meaning that is not always necessarily shared by all. The use of management jargon is therefore not advised when talking to those in the lower level of the organization as this may only be confusing. Language is very significant as it can enhance the expression of thoughts by giving a clear and accurate depiction or it can also limit a person’s ability to express himself if one is not familiar with it which may lead to misunderstandings and confusion. Language allows an individual to communicate his thoughts in a manner that makes sense.
As stated by Kirby and Goodpaster (1999), “Language is the ‘software’ that allows our brain to think the way it does; without language the cerebral cortex lies largely unused. ” Based on its context, a word may take on a different meaning altogether. Furthermore, words may develop new meanings over time, thus, there is a need to utilize critical thinking to be able to understand correctly the message that is relayed. There are various languages all over the world and as such, a word in a certain language may not have a corresponding word in another language.
Consequently, language diversity entails critical thinking as an individual need to come up with other words that may be used or other means to communicate. There is also a longer time for the process of critical thinking as it may take a while for the mind to sort out the meaning of the 1st language and attempt to communicate it in the 2nd language. This can be exemplified when a person speaks in his native language and his second language. By using his native language, an individual can get his point in a relatively short time as he is familiar with the words, jargon and nuances of his native tongue.
On the other hand, a person who is conversing in an unfamiliar tongue, such as foreigners in one country, may be able to find themselves grasping for the correct words and resorting to gestures in order to get their message across. The extent of the person’s vocabulary and the words chosen to deliver these thoughts can serve to either empower or limit the expression of one’s thoughts. As stated yet again by Kirby and Goodpaster (1999), our thoughts become greater if our vocabulary is also excellent and impeccable. Likewise, nonverbal communication produces a more forceful impact in communicating effectively in an intercultural environment.
It is, however, extremely important that the body language, facial expression, eye contact, proxemics, intonations or emphasis given to words or phrases must be consistent with the message one wants to convey, otherwise, it may just complicate verbal communication. With Asians, it is important to maintain eye contact while speaking for credibility but avoiding close proximity as this can be perceived as aggressiveness. In my experience, personnel in the lower levels of the organization appear to make more use of nonverbal communication which makes its mastery essential for managers and supervisors.
Ineffective communication is an inevitable obstacle to business productivity but it can be avoided with the application of appropriate communication techniques. Fundamental is clarity in communicating facts and of what is important, in expressing thoughts, opinions, feelings and expectations and conveying the action wanted. Secondly, since communication is as much a matter of human relationships as it as about transmitting facts, reciprocity and understanding are crucial. Finally, an efficient feedback mechanism is needed to validate the success of the whole communication process.
Whatever are the current challenges of working in the global workplace and of communicating interculturally, there is the undeniable fact that opportunities abound for both the individual and the business organization. As people are increasingly drawn to think outside the box, they develop greater interpersonal skills; they learn new ways of doing things and build good relationships with people from other cultures. For business, informed planning together with a greater understanding of intercultural differences, etiquette, protocol and communication will certainly lead to a much higher probability of achieving its goals.
Definitely, having a diverse and multicultural team working in a unit will be an optimum advantage in an environment of increasing racial, ethnic and cultural diversity. Already, the trends in modern day organizations are for professionals that are not only intellectually and technologically savvy, but also are culturally competent. The ranks of those who belong to ethnic groups that are most commonly under-represented should be duly increased and cultural understanding and knowledge should be actively promoted in the workplace setting.
These should be done in order to ensure that the environment within the workplace is one that is characterized by free thoughts and speech, and free from discrimination and disparities. In turn, organizations that observe these practices of promoting a culturally diverse workforce will ensure that their employees have high quality outputs and thus foster loyalty not only among employees but customers as well. This in the end translates into effective delivery of essential services to communities with diverse needs.
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Blalock, M. ( 2006) Listen Up, Why Good Communication is Good Business. Wisconsin Business Alumni Update. University of Wisconsin Regent System Briggance, B. & Burke, N. (2002). Shaping America’s health care professions: the dramatic rise of multiculturalism. West J Med. Humes, J. The Art of Communication is the Language of Leadership. Kwintessential Solutions, Inc. Retrieved April 15, 2009 from www. kwintessential. co. uk/cultural-ervices/articles/intercultural-management. html. Kirby, G. R. and Goodpaster, J. R. (1999). Thinking. Prentice-Hall, 2nd edition, p. 77