The Importance of Communication

Chapter 5
Communicating Effectively
The Importance of Communication
• Communication affects virtually every area of work.
• Communication with employees about plant closings,
performance appraisals, organizational goals, probable salary
increases, and job changes, and even the date of the company
picnic are essential to the proper functioning of the firm.
• Organizations also must communicate effectively with parties
outside the firm.
• Much of managers’ time is spent communicating. Henry
Mintzberg found 78% of CEOs’ time to be spent on
communication-related activities involving direct contact with
Functions of Communication
• Information Function. Communication provides
information to be used for decision making.
• Motivational Function. Communication encourages
commitment to organizational objectives, thus enhancing
• Control Function. Communication clarifies duties,
authority, and responsibilities, thereby permitting control.
• Emotive Function. Communication permits the
expression of feelings and the satisfaction of social needs.
Focus on Management: Communicating After the
Oklahoma City Bombing
•The communication complex for Kerr-McGee Corp., an Oklahoma
City-based oil and gas exploration company, is just two blocks from
the site of the April 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building.
•After the initial bomb, it was thought that a second bomb was about
to explode; Kerr-McGee was designated as part of the “crime scene.”
•The designation brought many questions from employees.
•Within minutes after the bombing, Kerr-McGee’s executive
management group was transformed into a corporate communications
team. About a dozen top executives combined with three members
from the corporate communications staff to develop and implement
strategic plans to let employees know what was going on. They used
e-mails, public address announcements, a “calling tree,” a “command
center,” and other methods to facilitate communication.
The Communication Process (Fig. 5-1)
Bridge of
Develop Encode Transmit
Receive Decode Accept Use
Feedback for Two-Way Communication
Communication Channel Dimensions
• Capacity. The amount of information that can be sent
through a channel in a given period of time without
significant distortion.
• Modifiability. The degree to which the rate of
transmission can be varied.
• Duplication. The use of subchannels to reiterate or
elaborate on a message.
• Immediacy. The speed at which a message can be
Communication Channel Dimensions
• One-way vs. two-way flow. One-way communication gives
a message without the opportunity for immediate feedback,
while two-way communication allows the message recipient
to ask questions and provide feedback.
• Number of linkages. The degree to which the channel
provides direct contact between a sender and the ultimate
recipient, or involves intermediate linkages.
• Appropriateness. To degree to which the channel matches the
needs and characteristics of the message.
• Richness. The potential information-carrying capacity of data.
One-Way Vs. Two-Way Communication Flow
• One-way communication is faster than two-way.
• Two-way communication is more accurate than one-way.
• Receivers are more sure of themselves and make more correct
judgments of how right or wrong they are with two-way
• The sender feels less secure in two-way communication. The
message recipients can point out errors, interrupt the stream of
thought, disagree, or otherwise challenge the sender.
• Two-way communication is relatively noisy and disorderly.
One-way communication appears neat and efficient to an outside
observer, but the communication is often less accurate.
Selecting Channels
• When sending messages, consider the characteristics we have
just presented.
• How much information must be transmitted?
• How fast must information be transmitted?
• Is feedback necessary?
• Are certain channels unsuited to the nature of the message?
• You may decide after weighing these factors that available
channels must be somehow modified or that multiple
channels are needed.
Communication Networks
• Communication channels may be linked in a variety of ways to form
communication networks.
• These networks are used to structure the information flows among network
• This involves decisions such as who should be “in the loop” to receive
certain types of messages, and to whom they should be instructed to
• In making such decisions, you will determine who has direct and speedy
access to information, who is most central in communication networks,
who will be able to get information only after others have received it, and
so on.
• Communication networks influence decision quality, member satisfaction,
and other outcomes.
Communication Networks (Figure 5-2)
Communication Network Dimensions
• With networks such as the chain and the circle, it may be necessary for a
message to pass through multiple links to reach its destination. With the
star and com-con networks, one link is sufficient.
• The circle and star networks are decentralized -- everyone is as central as
everyone else. The wheel and the com-con network have central members.
• Relative centrality is the degree of centrality of an individual in a network.
Network members with higher relative centrality tend to be more satisfied.
• Centralization is a measure of the variability in member relative
centralities. Centralized networks permit rapid decision making, but
average member satisfaction is low. Centralized networks may be efficient
for simple tasks, but decentralization is needed as task complexity and need
for creativity increase.
Communication Barriers
Barriers to
Communication Barriers: Semantics
• Semantics, or code noise, occurs when the meaning of a message
to the sender differs from its meaning to the recipient.
• Too often, this may be the result of “jargon,” involving
pretentious terminology or language specific to a particular
profession or group.
• Here are some examples of jargon relating to computers and the
modern workplace:
– Blamestorming: Discussing a project failure with coworkers.
– PEBCAK: “Problem exists between chair and keyboard.” That is, an
operator error.
– Cube Farm: Rows of cubicles instead of private offices.
– RTM: Read the manual.
Communication Barriers: Distraction,
Misrepresentation, and Information Retention
• Distraction, or psychological noise, occurs when a recipient
does not understand the sender’s message because he or she is
simply thinking about something else.
• Misrepresentation may involve actual lying or subtly distorting
information to the sender’s benefit.
• Information retention often occurs because information is a
valuable resource; those who control it are in positions of
power. Some people may retain specific sorts of information to
make themselves more necessary, may be in positions to decide
how to channel information, or may have the ability to process
information, sending only some of it along.
Communication Barriers:
Perceptual Factors
• Many perceptual errors are directly relevant to communication.
• Stereotyping may cause us to ignore or distort the messages of
people we have classified in certain ways.
• Selective perception may cause us to ignore communication that
conflicts with our beliefs and expectations.
• Halo error may cause us to bias our evaluation of a message
because of some unrelated characteristic of the sender.
• Projection may lead us to infer information in a message we
receive based on our own feelings.
• Primacy and recency effects may cause us to give differing weights
to various communications, depending on when we receive them.
Overcoming Communication Barriers
• Feedback, repetition of messages, use of multiple channels, and
simplified language may reduce problems due to semantics, selective
perception and distraction.
• Communication overload may be reduced by careful review of the
material needed by the recipient and by use of the exception principle.
• Short-circuiting may be reduced through careful consideration of who
has a “need to know.” Electronic data-processing techniques that
automatically route messages to certain people may also help.
• Information retention and misrepresentation may require tightened
formal controls or organizational audit groups, or they may require the
opposite -- fewer controls and more trust.
• Things that lessen one problem are likely to worsen another.
Written Communications
• Written communication is required when the action
called for is complex and must be done in a precise way.
• It also provides a permanent form of record keeping and
can reach a large number of people easily.
• Written communication may be used for communicating
downward or upward in the organization.
Downward Communication
• Downward communication involves messages from
senders relatively high in the organizational structure to
receivers in lower positions.
• Downward communication may be used:
to give instructions
to provide information about policies and procedures
to give feedback about performance
for indoctrinating or motivating
Upward Communication
• Upward communication involves communication from
sources in lower-level positions to receivers in higher
• Upward communication is often used:
to give information on achievement or progress
to point out problems that are being encountered
to pass on ideas for improvement of activities
to provide feelings on work and nonwork activities
Some Forms of Upward and Downward
Downward Communication
Letters and
Upward Communication
Focus on Management:
Pathfinders at Lloyd’s TSB
• A merger of Lloyds and TSB created a single British bank with 77,000
members and 15 million customers.
• The “new” bank won a Marketing Society Award for the care it took to
launch and explain the merged organization to its employees.
• It ran a comprehensive and sustained internal program, highlighted by a live
event called “Your Life. Your bank.”
• Staff nominated 5,000 colleagues to act as brand ambassadors, called
“pathfinders,” whose role was to attend the event, absorb the key messages,
and pass them on to 15 of their colleagues in structured cascade sessions.
• For the cascade sessions, pathfinders were supplied with a pack containing
bullet-point summaries, visual support on overhead transparencies, a
computer disk, and a video summary.
Guides for Readable Writing
(Figure 5-3)
• Use simple words and phrases, such as improve instead of
ameliorate and like instead of in a manner similar to that of.
• Use short and familiar words, such as darken instead of obfuscate.
• Use personal pronouns, such as you and them, if the style permits.
• Use illustrations, examples, and charts.
• Use short sentences and paragraphs. The communicator’s job is
to inform people, not to impress them.
• Use active verb forms, such as “The manager said …” rather than
passive verb forms, such as “It was said by the manager that …”
• Don’t use unnecessary words.
Guidelines for Effective Speaking
• Determine the purpose of your communication. Is it to explain
ideas to others? To entertain? Tailor your speech to facilitate
the desired purpose of your communication.
• Consider issues of time and space. Determine the best time and
location for delivering your message.
• Adapt to your listeners. Consider the size of the audience as
well as factors such as audience age, gender, interests, level of
knowledge about the subject, and values. Consider also
audience expectations about the nature of the speech.
• Use appropriate vocabulary. Speak at the proper level, and with
appropriate terminology, for the particular audience.
Guidelines for Effective Speaking (Continued)
• Practice voice control. Consider proper speech volume, pitch,
and speaking rate. Avoid mumbling and awkward pauses.
• Use appropriate gestures. Properly used, gestures can make a
presentation more engaging, and they may help disguise
anxiety. Avoid short, jerky movements that may appear as
nervousness, and use a variety of gestures to reinforce spoken
points or even as substitutes.
• Organize your presentation. Any oral presentation can be
divided into three parts: gaining attention, presenting the
information, and closing effectively. Each is critical.
The Bottom Line: Developing Effective
Speaking Skills
Identify the
Objective(s) for the
Speech or
Develop an Outline
to Achieve
Objectives in View
of Audience
Develop the Content
of the Speech or
Select Appropriate
Methods for
Delivery of the Speech
or Presentation
Practice Making the
Speech or
Individually or With a
Mock Audience
At the Beginning of the
Actual Speech or
Presentation, Make a
Good First Impression
During the Speech or
Maintain Good Eye
Contact with All
During the Speech or
Presentation, Use
Appropriate Hand
Gestures and Voice
Finish the Speech
or Presentation
Strongly by
Reinforcing Key
Guidelines for Active Listening
• Control the physical environment. Try to minimize noise and
other distractions,
• Be alert. Give your full attention, and allot the necessary time to
• Be mentally prepared. Do your homework in advance of the
presentation. Anticipate the encounter by learning new terminology
and background information about the persons, organization, or
• Be emotionally prepared. Keep an open mind about what is being
said, even if it is unpleasant. Give the speaker the opportunity to
complete his or her message before raising questions.
Guidelines for Active Listening (Continued)
• Be attentive. Continually review the speaker’s message, and
tie the various segments of the message together. Take notes if
necessary, but record only main points.
• Read nonverbal cues. Pay attention to the speaker’s tone of
voice, expressions, gestures, and other nonverbal cues.
• Distinguish among facts, inferences, and value judgments.
Try to sort out whether what is being said is a fact that can be
verified, an inference, or a personal judgment.
• Offer and solicit feedback. The best sort of feedback in a
listening situation is to paraphrase the speaker’s message.
Bottom Line: Developing Active
Listening Skills
Receive the
From the
Capture the
“Meaning” of
the Message
Based on its
Content and
the Sender’s
Nonverbal Cues
Reality Test the
of the Message
by Reflecting It
Back to
the Sender
The Sender
Confirms or
the Accuracy
of Message
Nonverbal Communication
• Nonverbal communication is communication that uses no
words or uses words in ways that conveys meaning beyond
their strict definition.
• It may take place through such channels as the body, the face,
the tone of voice, and interpersonal distance.
• The meaning of nonverbal communication often varies
markedly across cultures.
• Studies suggest that a substantial amount of information
transmitted during a conversation -- perhaps 80 or 90 percent
-- is nonverbal.
Functions of Nonverbal Communication
• Accenting is adding emphasis to a verbal message.
• Contradicting is signaling the opposite of the verbal
• Substituting is replacing the verbal message with a
nonverbal message.
• Complementing involves sending the same message
nonverbally that is sent verbally.
• Regulating is using nonverbal communication to control
the flow of the verbal message.
Forms of Nonverbal Communication
(Figure 5-4)
Eye Contact
• Paralanguage concerns how something is said rather than what is said. It
involves all vocal aspects of speech other than words.
• For example, voice qualities -- such as pitch, rhythm, tempo, and volume -influence interpretation of a verbal message.
• A soft, low-pitched voice and a slow rate indicate liking, while a high-pitched
voice indicates anger. Moderate rate, pitch, and volume indicate boredom.
• Vocal characterizers, such as coughing, clearing the throat, and grunting,
generally are distracting and annoying.
• Vocal qualifiers are variations in tone or intensity of speech. For instance,
increases in rate or volume may indicate impatience or anger, respectively.
• Vocal segregates are pauses between utterances. In situations such as
interviews, prolonged pauses suggest a lack of confidence and organization.
Hand Movements
• Some hand movements have a specific meaning that is
understood in a particular culture or occupation, such as a
thumbs-up gesture.
• Others, such as touching oneself or others, may be
associated with anxiety, guilt, hostility, or suspicion.
• For example, interviewers are sometimes taught that a
hand-to-face movement is a sign of deception.
Facial Expressions
• By one estimate, the human face can make 250,000 different
• The Roman scholar Pliny the Elder wrote more than 2,000
years ago that “The face of man is the index to joy and
mirth, to severity and sadness.”
• Facial expressions are generally understood to have a
particular meaning.
• For example, facial expressions communicating six
emotions -- happiness, sadness, anger, fear, surprise, and
disgust -- are recognized worldwide.
• Even when people try to suppress facial expressions, they
make very short expressions lasting a fraction of a second
that will reveal true meaning.
Global Perspectives:
The Smile Trainers
• The Japanese are too serious, says Yoshido Kadokawa, author of the
book Power of the Laughing Face and president of the Smile
Amenity Institute.
• At a seminar for managers, his students bite on a chopstick or pen.
Kodokawa then instructs them to “lift the edge of your mouth higher
than the edge of the chopstick. Hold your cheeks and count: idi, ni,
san. This is how you form your mouth shape.”
• Job applicants for McDonald’s in Japan are asked to describe their
most pleasant experience, and then managers evaluate whether their
faces reflect the pleasure they are discussing. Applicants who don’t
have genuine smiles are banished to making burgers rather than
greeting customers.
Eye Contact
• Eye contact is a major regulator of conversation.
• Generally, eye contact suggests understanding and interest.
• Seeking eye contact connotes the desire to open a
conversation. Conversely, someone hoping to avoid
communication will avoid eye contact.
• Some characteristic eye-contact patterns have specific
meanings. For instance, the slow blink -- a pattern in which
an individual closes his or her eyes for two to four seconds
and then slowly opens them -- indicates doubt or suspicion.
• Posture is the way people position their bodies
with respect to others.
• For example, if a customer’s arms are relaxed and
open and she leans forward as she talks to a
salesperson, her posture reflects approval and
acceptance of the salesperson’s message.
• If she leans back with arms tightly crossed, her
posture suggests rejection or disagreement.
• Touch can convey warmth, understanding, and intimacy.
• Touch may also enhance positive feelings about the touching
person and the situation.
• Studies show that when a store assistant, server in a restaurant,
or product demonstrator lightly touched a customer on the arm,
the customer saw the touching person more positively, had a
more positive attitude toward the situation, and was more likely
to comply with the toucher’s suggestions.
• This research involved casual touching of the arm. Many other
forms of touching may be resented, and unwanted touching can
be a form of sexual harassment.
• Dress can convey characteristics such as image, mood,
identity, power, wealth, and authority.
• People who are dressed formally are better able to
command respect.
• People in positions of authority often wear distinctive
uniforms to reinforce their status.
• We all wear our own uniforms, that is, the particular
way we choose to dress to communicate something
about ourselves.
• Many companies are experimenting with their dress
codes, including instituting “dress-down days.”
• Proxemics is the use of interpersonal space (that is,
proximity) to convey status or degree of intimacy.
• Sitting at the head of a table conveys status.
• Standing close to another conveys intimacy.
• Sitting behind a desk (as opposed to alongside it) indicates a
superior-subordinate relationship.
• Two elements of proxemics -- personal space and seating
arrangements -- are especially relevant in organizational
settings. They will be discussed in more detail in Chapter 12.
Lighten Up: Smileys
• E-mail takes away much of the opportunity for
nonverbal communication.
• Emoticons, or smileys, are series of little faces
that, when read sideways, resemble little faces
and convey emotions.
• Here is a sampling of smileys:
:-( I’m sad
:-o I’m bored (yawn)
:-# My lips are sealed
C=>:*)) I’m a drunk demonic chef with a cold
and a double chin
Some Issues in Electronic Communication
Use of Computers
in Communication
The Internet and
the World Wide
Guidelines for Using E-Mail
• Be careful. Both sending and receiving e-mail demands caution.
Don’t send sloppy or hastily reasoned messages, and avoid a
“slip of the finger” that could misdirect a message. Be careful
when opening attachments since they main contain viruses.
• Recognize privacy issues. Don’t write anything in e-mail
messages that you would not want to be widely read.
• Keep messages clear, simple, and short. Use a subject line that
conveys the content of the message. Avoid lengthy attachments
and fancy formatting.
• Reply only to appropriate persons. Ask yourself who really
needs the message.
Guidelines for Using E-Mail (Continued)
• Personalize your e-mail as appropriate. Smileys can be used to
convey feelings and add a personal touch. These shouldn’t be
overused, and they may be inappropriate in some formal e-mails.
• Be considerate. Avoid using e-mail to vent frustration and anger
through hostile messages. Such flaming can create a climate of
distrust, fear, and anger. Practice netiquette.
• Check e-mail at least once a day. Respond promptly. If your
message will be delayed, let the sender know you received the
message and when you will respond.
• Manage your e-mail with folders and filters. Set up folders to
organize e-mails and filters to eliminate junk mail and to transfer
low-priority mail to appropriate folders.
The Internet and the World Wide Web
• The Internet is a worldwide collection of computer
networks permitting access to libraries, news sources,
and groups with special interests.
• Perhaps the most interesting part of the Internet is the
World Wide Web. The Web is a collection of standards
used to access the information available on the Internet.
• Since the development of Web browsers, growth of the
Web has been dramatic.
• Corporate portals provide access to internal company
information via a Web browser.
Web Wise: Enquire Within
Upon Everything
• The World Wide Web was invented by Tim Berners-Lee in
• Berners-Lee’s idea for the Web came from a Victorian book
entitled Enquire Within Upon Anything, a volume full of all
sorts of useful advice about a wide range of topics.
• To read Berner’s Lee’s views on the Web and the Internet,
and to learn more about their histories, visit:
Web Wise: The New Marketplace of Ideas
When the Supreme Court struck down the so-called
Communications Decency Act, which would have regulated
the content of material on the Internet, Justice John Paul
Stevens wrote:
“Through the use of chat rooms, any person with a phone
line can become a town crier with a voice that resonates
farther than it could from any soapbox. Through the use of
Web pages, mail exploders, and newsgroups, the same
individual can become a pamphleteer.”
Teleconferencing and Videoconferencing
• Teleconferencing permits a group of people to “confer”
simultaneously via telephone or electronic mail.
• Teleconferencing that also has the capability to let participants
see each other over video screens is called videoconferencing.
• Such technologies offer businesses tremendous savings in time,
energy, and money.
• Many companies conduct sales meetings, editorial conferences,
and job interviews via teleconference.
• The systems enable companies to form work teams able to
overcome the barriers of time and space.
Focus on Management: Lernout and Hauspie
Has the World Talking
• Lerner and Hauspie, a Belgian company, is the
world’s leading provider of speech and language
technology products, solutions, and services to
businesses and individuals.
• It is the firm’s mission to break down barriers
through advanced translation technology and to
enable people to interact by voice -- in any language
-- with the machines that empower them.
• The firm’s cofounder estimates that by 2005 there
will be 500 million devices in use containing
speech-enabled systems to permit e-commerce by
• E-commerce is defined as “the sharing of business
information, maintaining business relationships, and
conducting business transactions by means of
telecommunications networks.”
• E-commerce involves using network communications
technology to engage in a wide range of activities up and
down the value-added chain, both within and outside the
• E-commerce can be initiated by business, consumers, or
government, and aimed at each of these groups.
Types of E-Commerce Sites
(Figure 5-5)
To Business
To Consumer
To Government
Initiated by
Free Markets
Initiated by
Mob Shop
Initiated by
Small Business
D.C. Site
Fed Services
E-Commerce: On-Line Retail Sales
Internet retailers (called e-tailers) are among the most
visible players in the Internet economy.
– It is predicted that the number of households shopping online
will reach 38 million by 2002.
– Some e-tailers are Internet based (and known as “dotcoms”).
– Others are traditional firms that have developed a Web presence
(these firms are known as “click-and-mortar” retailers).
– In the latter case, an emerging question is how to coordinate the
efforts of the Web business and of the traditional retail element
(known as the legacy business).
Global Perspectives:DoCoMo
• E-commerce in Japan is growing less rapidly than in
the United States and Europe, because many fewer
people own computers.
• NTT DoCoMo may be Japan’s last, best hope in the
global Internet race.
• The firm’s “I-mode” cell phones provide cheap and
continuous wireless access to the Internet as well as
voice-recognition technology.
• Users don’t have to make new dial-up connections
to get on the Internet; they are always connected as
long as they have a signal and a charged battery.
E-Commerce: Other Applications
• Online recruiting.
– There are now dozens of major job sites on the Web.
– In 1999 about 10 percent of newly hired employees found their jobs on
the Internet.
– Businesses can place job ads on the Web and start receiving resumes in
– They can also use the Web to offer job prospects information about the
company and its culture.
• Collaborative planning. An extranet is a Web-based platform
that controls the exchange of data with outside parties.
Heineken’s Extranet
• Heineken, with its headquarters in Europe, faced delays between
order placement in the U.S. and delivery of 10-12 weeks.
• To reduce that time, Heineken implemented an extranet to connect
with its suppliers and customers.
• Called HOPS (Heineken Operational Planning System), the system
allows for real-time forecasting and ordering interaction with
• HOPS has helped Heineken cut delivery times to distributors in half
while reducing inventories and cutting costs.
• It also provides a calendar permitting Heineken to notify distributors
of events and e-mail to broadcast new products, newsletters, or
Informal Communication
• While formal communication channels are important, much information flows
in other, officially unrecognized ways.
• Informal communication is information shared without formally imposed
obligations or restrictions.
• In organizational settings, information that is communicated informally among
employees is referred to as the grapevine.
• Over three-fourths of the information sent on the grapevine is accurate, but one
error may change the whole meaning of a message.
• People see the grapevine as a primary source of information, but rank it very
low as a preferred source.
• Grapevines carry messages that formal systems do not, they are fast and
flexible, and they can reach people in the need to know.
• Employees tend to view grapevine information as accurate.
Web Wise: Rumors of Satanism
• Procter & Gamble co. has struggled for more
than 20 years to fight rumors that its moonand-stars trademark is linked to Satanism.
• Lawsuits, changes in the P&G trademark, and
responses to up to 200 concerned callers a day
have not halted the persistent rumors.
• Now P&G is using the Web to fight back,
with a website specifically designed to fight
the rumors.
• http://www/
Global Perspectives: The Role of
the Grapevine
• The importance of the grapevine varies with national culture.
• For example, the grapevine and associated rumors are especially
important in Mexico.
• In the office in Mexico, the grapevine is often the most important
source for employees to find out about new changes, especially
those affecting personnel.
• Rumors tend to be formed when uncertainty is high and formal
channels of communication fail to provide good information;
these conditions prevail in Mexico.
• In addition, Mexico has a strong oral tradition, and Mexicans have
developed a suspicious attitude toward “official” information.
Guidelines for Effective Coaching
• Create a situation where you are prepared to coach and the
employee is open to coaching. Develop a climate of trust and
mutual respect.
• Use reflective listening -- focus both on words and their
emotional content. Facilitate self-discovery by letting
employees think for themselves and present their options.
• Talk to your employees, not at them. Avoid phrases such as
“You should…” and “I want…”
• Value different perspectives. Try to understand the differing
motivations, work values, goals, and capabilities of individual
Guidelines for Effective Coaching (Continued)
• Mutually identify goals. Focus on behaviors rather than
attitudes; behaviors can be changed, while attitudes tend to be
• Ask questions. Use questions to open new possibilities,
explore perceptions and assumptions, and provide new ways
of examining the same information.
• Give useful feedback. Focus both on outcome feedback and
on how behavior change can lead to improved outcomes.
• Track, follow through on your promises, and reward
improved behavior.
The Bottom Line:
Developing Coaching Skills
Use Active
Listening to Assess
the Employee’s
Work with the
Employee to Identify
Performance Goals
Demonstrate the
Behaviors for
the Employee
Provide Positive
Outcomes for
Employees Based on
the Achievement of
Performance Goals
Feedback to the
Employee to
Facilitate Achieving
Performance Goals
Observe Employee
Job Performance
Guidelines for Cross-Cultural Communication
• Learn all you can about the other party’s culture. Many differences
across cultures affect communications, including whether the culture is
high-context or low-context.
• Try to speak the language. By speaking the language -- even haltingly - we are more likely to recognize subtle nuances of meaning, to avoid
gaffes, and to show a sense of caring and commitment.
• Challenge your stereotypes and assumptions. The goal is to replace
your original assumptions and beliefs about the society in question with
information received from actual members of that society.
• Withhold evaluation. Try to gather facts while avoiding evaluation. Put
on the other person’s hat and try to understand the situation from his or
her position.
The Bottom Line: Cross-Cultural
Communication Skills
Study the
Style, Customs, Norms,
and Taboos of
Attempt to
Develop Some
Proficiency in
the Languages
Spoken by
Build Additional Checks
into the Communication
Process to Ensure
Mutual Understanding
Across Employees
Consider CrossCultural Communication
Differences When
Formulating and
Transmitting Messages
to Employees