Explore BrainMass

Intercultural Communication In the Workplace

O A full description of the communication issue: Describe the context, the principle players, and the outcome of the situation. Be attentive to verbal and nonverbal components in the experience you describe.

o A diagnosis of the communication issue: Using two outside sources, research the cultural norms of the principles players involved in the given situation. Explain how these cultural norms may have impacted the communication transaction.

o Strategies for dealing with the issue: Using the attached text, provide several recommendations that would have prevented the issue and paved the way for more effective communication.

The essay must include at least two sources?other than the attached text?cited properly in the text and with proper reference listings at the end of the essay. Your help wpuld be greatly appreciated.

© BrainMass Inc. brainmass.com June 20, 2018, 3:27 pm ad1c9bdddf


Solution Preview

Intercultural Communication Issue: Speech

Multinational companies usually send expatriates (foreign nationals) to their international offices for the purpose of managing, handling, and ensuring uniformity and efficiency in accordance with head office standards. This situation almost always involves a clash of cultures and results to a number of miscommunications in the workplace that if not managed affects the work environment. The culture of the expatriate employee is markedly different from that of the 'local office'. In Bangkok and Hongkong for example, Western Companies send CEOs and administrators from their home countries. This include Colgate-Palmolive, Unilver, HP, Coca-Cola, Pepsico, Nike and more. Western Banks more often than not send expatriates trained and honed in the West to implement corporate practices and values in their Asian start-ups or branches. While it is in choices, world-view, traditions and philosophies that cultural differences are markedly different, it manifests itself first and foremost in speech. In China, a 'face-culture', one is expected not to say 'the obvious' bluntly but to state it so that feelings are not hurt. Much of Asia is a 'face' culture. What this means is that even if things are that bad, you must let the other party maintain a modicum of dignity 'in public' (which includes speeches with you, in private if you are not part of that person's inner circle). It is almost always a case of beating 'round the bush and in a situation where speech is already limited by language proficiency, things can get really awry. One US contract manufacturer, upon inspection of a plant in Shenzen, China remarked to the factory owner in jest (who had done his best to dress in a suit - reddish pink, as the Chinese honour this colour to be lucky and auspicious) - "My friend, that is a very gay colour. Are you a homosexual?" The Chinese factory owner only smiled back but being proficient enough in English, he thought that the other was propositioning him. Soon, the contract manufacturer was the talk of the town being 'gay' and 'notorious'. Homosexuality is still an unaccepted 'fact' about gender in China and the communist system does not tolerate it. Hence, the contract manufacturer found himself unable to get good rates or offer of services. This could have been avoided had he done a little research on Chinese practices and culture especially if one is to do business with them. Feelings can get hurt quite easily and because of gaps, it is better to hold one's tongue and judgement as long as it does not adversely affect business or products being manufactured or purchased.

One of the biggest issue expats have, not only in China but in Thailand, Vietnam and much of the manufacturing economies in Asia is that the 'face culture' forces their local employees to 'lie' to them. More often that not, when a Western Expat asks his staff if things are good or this is 'right' or 'okay', they become enthusiastic and say 'yes' even when they feel opposite to what they are agreeing to. The Westerners construe it as 'lying'. The Asians see it as being polite. Hence, many Westerners often complain about honesty and trustworthiness of their Asian counterparts and employees believing that they are being played especially when honesty and 'getting to the bottom of things' is an important aspect of their job. Asians on the other hand do not want to disappoint or 'make fun of' people higher 'in status' than them publicly, most especially people from the West, their expat bosses. Hence, they agree. Obviously, this does not result to good communication and is the opposite of an important outcome in management functions. How to counteract this? Companies like Phillips (Dutch) and Siemens (German) more often than not promote within local offices and, instead of sending an Expat out to supervise they train country managers in the West to be transplanted back to their home countries to supervise. ...