On July 15th, Yu-link hosted an event, along with Roberto & Co, to discuss cross-cultural communication. Presentations were led by Kristian Sletten and Amirsan Roberto. Kristian is a multi-cultural freelance project manager who has lived on five continents ! Amirsan has lived in multiple countries and has started three companies across Asia.
Here are the 7 communication barriers that they shared with us that you may experience when doing business in China or elsewhere in the world:
1. Physical- There is a physical barrier present across various cultures, so its always important to keep this in mind when communicating in a foreign country. In some countries, it is acceptable to stand right in someone’s face when you’re talking. In other places, it just makes people uncomfortable !
2. Perceptual- Every person perceives the world differently, so there are some barriers that may exist only in your head. Maybe you have thoughts about a group of people before you meet them. It’s always important to keep an open mind and not let perceptions fool you.
3. Emotional- Some cultures are generally more expressive and emotional, while others tend to be more closed off. Sometimes, it is just a matter of how well you know someone. In some countries, you may believe that the people are cold until really getting to know them. In other places, people can appear to be too friendly.
4. Cultural- Every culture across the globe is different, and it is important to know what is accepted and not accepted in various cultures to make sure you aren’t accidentally offending someone !
5. Language-Clearly, language can be a barrier to communication. If two people speak different languages, or if you just can’t come up with the words you need at the appropriate times, language can be a huge communication barrier.
6. Gender- In many places, there are gender barriers, and its important to understand that men and women are held at different levels in certain places. In some parts of the world, men make all the decisions at work, but the women rule the household. In other places, it may be the opposite.
7. Interpersonal- There is an interpersonal barrier that exists in various cultures- in some places, people are open and friendly ; in others, the people are more reserved and closed off. Same holds true for the interpersonal barrier as it does for many of these- if you truly get to know a person, these barriers quickly fall.
Some of the main takeaways from these lessons is that it’s important to be patient, understanding, and open when dealing with these communication barriers. The best way to overcome all of these is by having an appreciation and understanding of where other people come from, and learn how to communicate with people on their level. If you go to enough places, you are bound to make mistakes and cultural faux pas, but the important thing is to show a respect for all people and their cultures.