Language differences, non-verbal cues, communication styles, and cultural norms are challenges when communicating in multicultural business. These are some reasons for miscommunication and misunderstanding. But, knowing how to overcome the barriers of communication can solve the problem of overcoming negativity in the workplace. Thus, non-verbal communication and body language can lessen confusion or miscommunication, especially in negotiations. Moreover, understanding and addressing these barriers is crucial for successful communication in multicultural business settings. Therefore, any kind of entrepreneur must know the elements of negotiation to close a deal to be prepared
What are the common communication barriers in business?
In the following sections, here are some examples of communication barriers and how to overcome these barriers and promote effective communication in multicultural businesses.
Lack of common language
It is challenging to overcome this barrier in communication when conveying ideas, understanding instructions, or engaging in meaningful discussions. When there is no mutually understood language, therefore, communication becomes limited, and reliance on interpreters or translation services may be necessary. Without a common language, individuals may struggle to express themselves accurately or comprehend messages fully.
In a global sales team meeting, a team member from a non-English-speaking country struggles to understand a discussion about sales targets due to language barriers.
Overcoming the barrier: The team leader can provide visual aids such as charts or graphs to complement the verbal discussion. They can also follow up with summary emails with key points and targets in simplified language. Additionally, assigning a bilingual colleague to serve as a language interpreter or provide translation services can help everyone understand the discussion.
Differences in accents, dialects, or pronunciation
In the BPO industry, language, accent, and much more pronunciation are fundamental requirements. Thus, language connects people to understand each other easily. As a result, it may hinder effective communication if differences in accents, dialects, or pronunciation are not considered.
During a software development team meeting, John, an American team lead, discusses with his colleagues Maria from Spain, Li Wei from China, and Ahmed from Egypt.
Overcoming the barrier:
Despite differences in accents, dialects, and pronunciation, they effectively communicate their ideas. Maria emphasizes the importance of user experience and interface design, with Li Wei seeking clarification on the term “user-friendly.” John provides a concise explanation, ensuring everyone understands the concept. Ahmed suggests localizing the software for different markets, and John acknowledges the idea, highlighting the benefits of translation. The team overcomes language barriers through active listening and clear explanations and successfully communicates their thoughts and suggestions.
Use of idioms, slang, or jargon
We all know that every culture has its idioms, slang, and jargon each language-specific expression that are not common for individuals from different cultural backgrounds to understand. These expressions often carry cultural connotations or meanings that may not understand directly and can cause confusion or misinterpretation, especially for non-native speakers.
Theo, the team lead, is discussing a new campaign with her team, which includes Mark, a native English speaker, and Sofia, who is a non-native English speaker.
Theo: “We must develop “fresh and creative” ideas for this campaign.”
Sofia: “Excuse me, I’d like to ask, what do you mean by “fresh and creative”?
Overcoming the Barrier: He will respond nicely to the meaning of “fresh and creative” to minimize confusion or misinterpretation.
Theo’s response: “We should think of new and innovative ideas that will grab people’s attention.
Businesses with different cultures perceive direct eye contact as a sign of attentiveness and respect, while others perceive it as confrontational or disrespectful. Just like in Japanese culture, too much eye contact is disrespectful to them. Therefore, individuals adjust their eye contact to align with the cultural norms of the person they are communicating with.
Use eye contact in a good way situation
-Maintain consistent, direct eye contact to show attentiveness and interest in the conversation.
-Engage eye contact to establish a connection with the speaker, convey empathy, and demonstrate active listening.
Other meanings of eye contact in other cultures:
-Avoid prolonged staring in an intense because others are uncomfortable or detect aggression to overcome communication barriers.
-In communicating, to overcome communication barriers, maintain eye contact and don’t look away to prevent appearing overly intense or invasive.
-Respect personal space and maintain a comfortable distance during eye contact.
Attitude or emotion
In the business world, attitude can be the first impression. Still, having trouble in your personal or work will hinder you from negotiating effectively or even communicating with anyone else. Hence, that could be a problem in delivering a message.
Before starting the meeting, you know that one of your team members faces personal challenges affecting their communication and overall performance in a business setting.
Overcoming barriers solutions:
Show empathy and support.
Foster open communication.
Provide a safe space to express concerns.
Be flexible and understanding.
Offer resources and support.
Adapt communication style.
Jumping to conclusions
People who are busy with their daily tasks or having a hard day and don’t listen carefully, decide without thinking, or jump to a conclusion without listening can find it hard to make good decisions.
Situational example: A team meeting to discuss a decrease in sales numbers.
The team leader gathers her team members, Lavaine, Theo, and Alex, to discuss the recent decline in sales numbers. However, they encounter a communication barrier due to jumping to conclusions.
Team leader: “Our sales have dropped this quarter, and we need to understand why.”
Lavaine: “It must be because our marketing strategies aren’t working.”
Theo: “No, I think it’s because our product quality has declined.”
Alex: “Actually, I believe it’s because of increased competition in the market.”
To overcome this communication barrier, they can follow these simple steps:
-Don’t assume the effective way is to gather data and insights to understand the reasons behind the decline in sales. Then, help review sales data, conduct customer surveys, or analyze market trends.
-Discuss Openly and gather the team to discuss, where everyone can share their perspectives without jumping to conclusions to understand the situation clearly.
-Give possible reasons that contribute to the decline in sales, such as changes in customer behavior, market conditions, or product performance.
-Analyzing sales data and market trends to identify patterns and possible causes of the decline. This will help us make informed decisions and develop effective strategies.
-Instead of blaming a colleague, create a problem-solving mindset. In order for everyone to contribute ideas and work together to find solutions to improve sales.
6 Effective Principles of Communication in Business
Remember always the 6’s in communication to overcome barriers of communication. These principles are effective in any aspect while communicating. For this reason, if you have difficulties overcoming communication barriers of different cultures and how to respond efficiently, you must not forget this.
Communicate with clarity and conciseness. Provide guidelines or best practices for crafting clear messages that convey the intended meaning without unnecessary complexity or ambiguity. After exchanging words, you must encourage individuals to ask for feedback and clarification to overcome communication barriers and ensure they understand your message. Then, ask or confirm any aspects of confusion or ambiguity.
Provide concise instruction:
“To access the new software, go to our company’s intranet, click on the ‘Resources’ tab, and select ‘Software Downloads.’ From there, choose the ‘New Software’ folder, and follow the installation instructions in the readme file.”
Address and overcome challenges that hinder effective communication. Use this principle to show consideration to any individual that can foster trust, minimize misunderstandings, build a bridge between cultural differences and strong relationships, ultimately leading to more successful and effective communication.
Use polite words when you are talking to someone. Thus, always use “please,” “thank you,” and “excuse me” to be mindful of your words. In addition, treat others with respect, regardless of their position or role. Show empathy, listen attentively, and avoid interrupting or speaking over others. Furthermore, giving full attention to the person speaking tells that you are eager to hear and actively engaged in the conversation.
All necessary and relevant information should be included when communicating with someone. Moreover, provide correct information thorough response or explanation without omitting key details.
refers to being accurate, precise, and with no errors or misinformation. Talk or share information that is factually correct and reliable. Therefore, it is necessary to use this principle to overcome communication barriers in business and a commitment to make it accurate and truthful.
Expressing yourself or sharing information using only a few words while conveying a message clearly and effectively to anyone. It’s about getting straight to the point without unnecessary details or long explanations.
Learning the best way of communicating in a business is an advantage because it’s like a lifeline and the best way to close deals in negotiating. Communication is versatile to any individual working remotely, so there are communication challenges you must overcome to contact your team smoothly. With the knowledge of every culture’s language will be easier to overcome barriers of communication in business or any aspect.