week 8 9 managing intercultural communication n.
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Week 8-9 MANAGING INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATION. MNGT 583 – Özge Can. Today’s Questions:. What are the major communication challenges facing international managers? What are the various forms of verbal and nonverbal communication? What cultural factors are relevant here?

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today s questions
Today’s Questions:
  • What are the major communication challenges facing international managers?
    • What are the various forms of verbal and nonverbal communication?
  • What cultural factors are relevant here?
  • How can managers overcome the barriers to effective intercultural communication?
  • Communication:
    • Exchange of information, be it words, ideas or emotions.
  • Communication is only possible between people who to some extent share a system of meaning(hint hint: culture)
communicating across cultures
Communicating Across Cultures
  • Aside from perceptions and interpretations of behavior, you need to communicate your feelings or reactions
  • Even when speaking the “same” language, communication is not the same
    • It is a function of culture, background and experiences
  • Communication styles => The tendency for a culture to adopt a common style of communicating that is tacit and difficult for others to appreciate
languages of the world
Languages of the World:
  • Thousands of distinct languages and even more dialects
  • But, only about 100 languages have more than one million speakers
  • About 10 languages account for most of the communication on the planet
  • Most widely spoken native language: Chinese (Mandarin)
speaking other languages
Speaking Other Languages
  • You need to communicate in the language of the country in which you are doing business
    • Being monolingual, bilingual, multilingual
  • On the other hand, English is becoming more pervasive in international business circles as a common language
  • Many nations teach English as the second language
  • Also the most common language in the academic world
communicating in foreign languages
Communicating in Foreign Languages
  • Even with great profiency in a certain language, you may still face many problems in verbal communication
    • Dialects, accent and other variations as well as many subtle differences in use
  • Even native speakers have same challenges
  • Communicating within natives as opposed to with non-native speakers
    • Example: Americans and British
communicating in foreign languages1
Communicating in Foreign Languages
  • Despite accuracy in the literal translation of words, the actual meaning of a word can vary considerably.
    • Ex: Japanese people’s indirect way of saying “no”
  • Language might be a good indicator of underlying cultural values such as individualism and collectivism
    • Ex: dropping or requiring the pronoun (“I, you, he or she”)
beware humor understatement or irony
Beware Humor, Understatement or Irony!

“Sarcasm: the last refuge of modest and chaste-souled people when the privacy of their soul is coarsely and intrusively invaded.”

― Fyodor Dostoyevsky


Ricky Gervais, creator of the tv series, The Office: The difference between American and British humour

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Office
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HK-Cf9R4q-c
affective vs neutral cultures
Affective vs. Neutral Cultures
  • Members of cultures which are affectively neutral do not show their emotions but keep them carefully controlled and subdued.
  • In contrast, in cultures high onaffectivity people show their feelings plainly by laughing, smiling, grimacing, scowling and gesturing; they attempt to find immediate outlets for their feelings.
affective vs neutral cultures1
Affective vs. Neutral Cultures
  • The amount of visible "emoting" (degree of affectivity) is a major difference between cultures.


  • Americans tend to exhibit emotion, yet separate it from "objective" and "rational" decisions.
  • Italians and south European nations in general tend to exhibit and notseparate.
  • Dutch and Swedes tend not to exhibit and to separate.
test yourself
Test Yourself:
  • In a meeting you feel very insulted because your business counterpart tells you that your proposal is insane. What is your response?

1) I will not show that they have hurt/insulted me, because that would be seen as a sign of weakness and would make me more vulnerable in the future.

2) I will not show that I am hurt because that would spoil our relationship. This will allow me later to tell the counterparthow much I was hurt by their comment so they might learn from it. I rather show my emotions when they have more chance to improve our business relationship.

test yourself1
Test Yourself:

3) I will show clearly that I am insulted so that my counterpart gets the message. I believe the clarity of my message will allow me to be able to control even greater emotional upset in the future.

4) I will show clearly I am insulted so that my counterpart gets the message. If business partners cannot behave themselves properly they have to bear the consequences.

compliments criticism embarrassment and apology
Compliments, Criticism, Embarrassment and Apology
  • Wide differences across cultures in terms of how often praise is given, what is praised and how people respond
    • Personal traits and physical apearance or interpersonal things - relations in a context?
    • In-group vs. out-group relations
  • Difficulty in expressing and accepting criticisms, admitting mistakes
  • Concern about “face saving”; feeling of shame
compliments criticism embarrassment and apology1
Compliments, Criticism, Embarrassment and Apology
  • What is more important; physical or psychological harm?
  • Types of apologies:
    • Being direct vs. indirect
    • Being extensive and intense v.s. simple and quick
  • The meaning of and approach to “forgiveness”
written communication
Written Communication
  • Adoption of new communication methods-technologies
  • Which communication types a culture prefer?
    • e-mail vs. instant messaging and telephone
  • How people in different cultures write an e-mail?
    • Short, to-the-point or extented and flowery
    • Use of personal (formal) tone vs. third-person (informal) tone
written communication1
Written Communication
  • Bypassing: when different people use the same words to mean different things and thus communication errors occur
    • Example: the meaning of the word “profit”
  • Use of idioms and analogies
nonverbal communication
Nonverbal Communication
  • The subtle cues used to communicate within and across cultures, including facial expressions, appearance , eye contact and body movements
  • Above and beyond what is being said
  • How it is being said
    • Interpersonal space and gestures
    • Emotions and touch
    • Vocal qualities
a research example
A Research Example
  • Riviello et al. (2012), Conference paper
  • A cross-cultural study on the perception of emotions: How Hungarian subjects evaluate American and Italian emotional expressions
a research example1
A Research Example
  • In the present work a cross-modal evaluation of the visual and auditory channels in conveying emotional information is conducted through perceptual experiments aimed at investigating whether some of the basic emotions are perceptually privileged and whether the perceptual mode, the cultural environment and the language play a role in this preference. To this aim, Hungarian subjects were requested to assess emotional stimuli extracted from Italian and American movies in the single (either mute video or audio alone) and combined audio-video mode. Results showed that among the proposed emotions, anger plays a special role and fear, happiness and sadness are better perceived than surprise and irony in both the cultural environments. The perception of emotions is affected by the communication mode and the language influences the perceptual assessment of emotional information.
nonverbal communication1
Nonverbal Communication
  • Interpersonal space: the distance we have between ourselves and others when we talk and interact
  • Different spaces are preferred by different cultures
  • Gestures are usually more direct and deliberate and designed to convey a message
    • Example: a shoulder shrug, a thumps-up sign
nonverbal communication2
Nonverbal Communication
  • Haptics: the use or lack of touch as a communication tool
  • Vocal qualities: characteristics such as speed and loudness of one’s voice that project information in communication
  • People from different cultures prefer different levels of touch and speed of talking
context again
Context, again...
  • Something communicated often carries importance abov and beyonf what is being said.
  • So, context itself might be the ultimate example of nonverbal communication
  • Difference in communication between high-context and low-context cultures:
    • The former is more subtle and nuanced and prefers face-to-face communication; the latter is more direct and prefers written communication