Overcoming Communication Challenges in Multicultural Workplaces
What are communication challenges in multicultural workplaces?
Communication challenges in multicultural workplaces typically refer to difficulties and issues prevailing while attempting to communicate with individuals belonging to different ethnicities and cultural communities at one’s respective workplace. Communication challenges largely emerge in multicultural workplaces as a result of weak communication skills and inability to express one’s thoughts clearly and fluently in front of a multicultural audience. In order to effectively communicate with individuals belonging to different cultural communities at one’s workplace, one must acquire good communication skills. Some of these skills typically involve developing fluent and expressive non-verbal communication by working on body posture, eye movement, facial expression, sign language, lip movement, body language and interpretative knowledge.
Benefits of Improving Communication Skills at Multicultural Workplaces:
There are innumerable benefits and advantages associated with improving communication skills at multicultural workplaces. Some of these include:
- Improved interpersonal connections:
By improving communication skills at multicultural workplaces, one essentially paves the path towards improving their interpersonal connections. One experiences belongingness, attachment and friendliness towards their fellow colleagues at their workplaces as a matter of being able to clearly express their thoughts, intentions and motivations to them. These improved interpersonal connections essentially bind together individuals belonging to different communities, cultural settings, mindsets and perspectives as a matter of uniting them under a mutual connection of trust and faith.
2. Increased Self-Confidence and Self-Esteem:
Self-confidence is the quintessential instrument that one needs to possess in order to thrive in a diverse and competitive workplace. By working on improving one’s communication skills and language proficiency, one observes an overall increase in their self-confidence levels. An overall increase in self-confidence levels boosts one’s self-esteem since one begins to think of themselves in a higher regard than earlier.
3. Sharpened Creative Visions:
Creative prowess and good verbal communication skills go hand-in-hand. By possessing the capability to efficiently communicate one’s thoughts and perceptions, one also initiates a divergent thinking approach in their personality. Since one has acquired the skills to express their thoughts to a multicultural audience, they can easily use that power to give birth to out-of-the-box and unique ideas at the workplace. By thinking on behalf of a diverse audience and empathizing with their ideologies, one sharpens their creative visions while approaching any situation.
How does one improve their communication skills to thrive in multicultural workplaces?
In order to thrive in multicultural workplaces, one must work on improving their communication skills. There are various aspects that are covered under such skills and some of these are follows:
- Monitoring Body Posture:
Body posture is often understood as the different positions that one maintains while sitting and standing in their workplace. By working on improving one’s body posture by clearly observing it every now and then, avoiding making unnecessary body reflexes and external reactions to stimuli, one can easily contribute towards clearly communicating their intentions to their colleagues without making them feel disrespected or unwelcome in any manner by their body movements. This can be easily attained by maintaining a formal and straight body posture throughout one’s presence at their workplace. Similarly, it also must be consciously communicated to the colleague that you are not competing with them or are not a potential threat to them. On occasions, where the colleague perceives you as a potential competitor or someone who might replace them in the organization, then they might not open up easily with you and maintain a safe distance from you. It is therefore important to continue emphasizing that you are their trusted friend and not their enemy or competition. This sign of being trustworthy and open to welcoming them is exhibited easily with an open and welcoming body posture that is not stiff or tight.
2. Learning Sign Language:
Sign language is among common communication skills that each individual must possess in order to convey their innermost feelings to any given individual without using verbal languages. One can easily learn sign language that is considered universal for different cultural communities and use it to convey their desires, feelings and motivations to their peers and colleagues at workplaces to avoid miscommunication or misunderstanding. Sign language cumulatively includes different aspects such as hand gestures, lip movement and overall body language.
3. Mastering Facial Expressions:
Facial expressions are considered common instruments under communication skills that must be mastered in order to overcome communication challenges at multicultural workplaces. One must research about and memorize certain facial expressions that are considered universally conveying a given feeling/feelings to a diverse audience. Some common facial expressions considered common in different cultures include anger, shock/surprise, sadness, happiness/laughter, disgust and irritability.
4. Developing Interpretative Knowledge:
A common barrier in verbal communication at multicultural workplaces includes a lack of interpretative knowledge of the possible intended meaning of a given statement made by an individual. One must develop interpretative knowledge towards verbal statements by becoming sensitive towards usage of certain vocabulary in a given context. Some words and phrases are used with a certain inherent meaning attributed to them and by grasping their significance, one essentially makes it easier to communicate their thoughts to an audience that is less proficient in other language.
5. Improving English Proficiency:
English is commonly considered as the official language of communication in most multicultural workplaces. One can enhance their communication skills in such settings by working on improving English proficiency by revising their existing knowledge of basic sentence formation, grammar usage and vocabulary as well as pronunciation. By being fluent in English, one can avoid all kinds of misinterpretation of their message or statements at workplaces.
Factors to Consider while Enhancing Communication Skills
There are several factors that need to be considered while enhancing communication skills to overcome communication barriers at multicultural workplaces. These include:
One must always ensure that they possess clarity regarding the sensitivity of any given situation, importance of the context and also about the understanding and interpretative abilities of their fellow colleagues before attempting to showcase any kind of improved communication skills to them. This shall aid in minimizing conflicts and communication gaps significantly.
2. Possibility of Error:
Each acquired skill/experience comes with its own advantages and limitations. One must always consider the possibilities of error in interpretation or understanding of a given statement before expressing it openly at a multicultural workplace. Since different cultures consider different statements and phrases in a different manner due to differing historical landscapes and motivations, one must be prepared to re-emphasize or differently explain a given idea/statement to an individual belonging to a different ethnicity. It might also appear that certain statements and lingual commands might be considered offensive or defamatory in certain cultures owing to their historical landscape or the norms included in their constitution and other official documents. Therefore, being vigilant and aware of the possible implications of a given statement is necessary before openly commenting or sharing any thought to a fellow colleague.
So, let us embark on this beautiful journey of overcoming communication challenges in multicultural workplaces by overcoming all possible communication barriers!