Every part of world follows different culture in all aspects such as business, education, food habits, etc. The world is full of confrontations between people who think, feel differently. Culture is not inherited it is learned. Intercultural studies teach us the cultural difference between people, so this is essentially needed for us to reach out globally, especially in business and workplace. To understand cultural phenomenon it is essential to use cultural paradigms .Cultural differences are unpredictable and confusing this leads to frustration for people who works in different culture head or global business customs. Migration from one culture to another culture is a big culture break which Is very difficult to cope up with it, for example, a manager from Sweden moves to Indonesia to manage an Indonesian company will be a big problem for both because Sweden is task-oriented work culture, but Indonesia is hierarchy-oriented work culture. Migrating from collectivism to individualistic or vice-versa also have serious impact and face problems. Learning other culture means one should not change their character and mimic local culture, that would create even worse problems, so “be yourself” and respect local rituals, habits and tradition and act accordingly.
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Cultural dimensions are really important to know before making any joint ventures or partnership with other culture following people, because something which is good and correct in ones culture will be bad or wrong in another culture. For example, “an American company joint venture with Japanese ,the meeting was held in Japan where American representatives his speech in a loud and expressive manner, this made Japanese tensed because speaking loudly and in expressive manner they consider as angry” so this clearly shows cultural dimensions are really important and essential in intercultural studies and to understand cultural phenomenon.
The culture is the way of living, human behavior is changes and it is depending upon culture. Human behavior differs from different culture, there are various risks of using culture as an example for human behavior in some culture using left hand for handshake or giving any documents is totally bad, but in some culture they prefer left hand when these two culture meet together there developed a negative impression on the human behavior and the culture. Trust between two cultural people gets lost which led to breakdown in business. In some culture women talking to others men expect their relation or friend is a crime especially in Muslim counties, on the flip side many culture men and women are considered towards equal and no restrictions for women. In country like India eating with the left hand is considered as a bad habit, but most westerners are left handed prefer eating in left hand. But these type of behavior is depends upon their culture one should not blame or comment on it. So people going to global market should aware of all these cultural behavior and understand their culture to have a healthy business relationship.
2. COMMUNICATING NONVERBALLY
Nonverbal communication is also called as body language that we communicate without using words at all. “People of the other culture will misunderstand our body language just as they may misinterpret the words they speak or write. Fortunately however, we can learn highlights of another culture’s nonverbal language much quicker than verbal language” (Richard R Gesteland: 2002). Understanding nonverbal communication is very important if we if there is a different cultural meetings because body language of one culture is different and have different meaning in another culture, it may even create an negative impact on people. Nonverbal communication plays a great role in field of business even today. Cultures are varied like very expressive, partially expressive and reserved cultures each have different body language. There are four facets of body language which is very important in cross culture negotiations such as spatial behavior, touch behavior, eye contact and gestures. These play a key role in negotiating globally. These nonverbal communications is not only important in business field but also between nations, persons, etc. For example, Former Pakistan president Parvesh Musharaf visited India for a peace talk when there was a handshake with Indian president it was very light handshake, finally the peace talk was failed. This clearly shows how the body language plays an important role globally.
The study shows that in business field worlds plays only 7% remaining 93% depends on the body language. Even one is very efficient in speaking can grab the audience attention, not having a good body language message is send to audience before the word goes. Personality development trainings or some business training always give main importance to the body language in first place. Let’s see some of the examples of nonverbal communication which is misinterpreted from the other culture.
Example 1- “Once American business man visited Italy for a business meeting, they were travelling in a car heading to Milan from Florence. Italian colleague drove the car at 145km/hr, when the Italian started discussing about important negotiations, instead of looking the road he started to look American face and his reactions. This made American really scared and he started driving from the half the way”. In expressive culture like Italy will like to read your eyes and face when they talk, direct eye contact is critical in their culture .On the other side intense eye contact means in many part of Asia such as Japan, Singapore, etc they think you are to intimidate them or stare them down. Eye contact is the prime factors in business dealings.
Example 2- “Raising eyebrows” many international negotiators will encounter raised eyebrow in many parts of the world. Raising eyebrows is different meaning in different part of the world for North American raising eyebrow means “interested”, in Germany it means “clever”,for Filipinos it is a way of saying “hello” for Chinese it means “disagreement” .If a Filipino goes to china on a business trip and raised their eyebrow for saying hello, There will be a misinterpretation by Chinese which can cause problems in the talk.
Example 3- “Index finger pointing” In east and south East Asia it is considered as rude to point anyone with forefinger instead can use whole hand flat with palm down. In country like India pointing index finger is considered as an insult, this not the case in American and European countries. When doing business with Asians this is the one of the important body language to be considered.
Example 4 -“Raising thumb” is considered as a universal sign of saying great, but in German it represents numeral 1, But in eastern Mediterranean and parts of Europe it means rude sexual sign. One should be careful in the gestures and body language when going globally.
These four examples are sample of body language and how it can misinterpret other culture. Nonverbal communication is critical in international business to overcome misinterpretation intercultural studies and knowledge is very important.
3. MULTICULTURAL TEAMS
Multicultural teams has become common because of lot of joint venture organizations globally and outsourcing of the big companies, for example Swedish company joint venture with Japan company, where both Swedish and Japanese tend to work together ,solve problem together. These types of multicultural grouping have lot of positives and also have many challenges because of cultural variations. In this essay we will see about lot of dimensions like how to improve people’s intercultural conflicts, how to get effective cooperation among multicultural team, etc.
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Multicultural teams are very effective in improving creativity and innovation, it provides better decision making, for example, ” in an American -German joint venture Germans are technically very rich so they can guide the company in technical way whereas Americans known for their marketing and management skills can reach their market globally”. Problem solving either it may be old or new, people coming from multiple cultures can provide better solution. This kind of grouping also minimizes pressure in the work place which occurs when there are like minded people works together. There is a big chance of market opportunities, increasing productivity, expansion of organization, increases business image, multicultural team is critical for success of organization.
There are more challenges to face in multicultural teams it can be a success of organization or it can create major crash in organization. Diverse group confronting different values, experience, educational systems, character mainly language. These mingle of various culture creates lots of differences between each other which is leading to internal conflicts, these are mainly because of communication problems. There is a greater possibility of frustration and dissatisfaction in job leading to high turnover of team members. The diversity in the team often having problems in reaching consensus and taking decisions, this is due to ambiguity, miscommunication, and language barrier. When there is a meeting where decision have to be taken, it leads to never ending debate, diversity in agreement of specific plans, etc, these problems paves way to major drop in productivity so there is a mistrust between organization and workers these causes stress in the organization .Another important factor is people of same culture tend to go along well because of same language, values, background creating inferiority complex with heterogeneous culture peers.
Different culture have their own values to follow these values also create great impact on the team performance. For example, “A German-British joint venture company where Germans consider technical competence is a high value prepared very wee for the meeting, where as the British in turn skimmed through the papers and shared their point of view. This made Germans more irritated and commented British have lacking technical knowledge which made them to ask stupid questions” the example clearly shows cultural values may even affect the relationship between fellow partners. In task-oriented culture specific job is given to individuals where they tend to take whole responsibility if something went wrong. On the flip side collectivist culture the job is given people share their work and the final decision is taken by the boss if something went wrong individual is not blamed whole group takes responsible. When these two cultures mingle each other confusion occurs while working, it may go even worse when problem occurs affects the organization so badly.
Managing the multicultural team is very important in an organization .If I was leading a team with multicultural peers, I would like to provide proper training to the team mates where they will learn values of different cultures, other cultural dimensions. In my point of view learning cultural dimensions will give background of other cultures, dissolves problems like miscommunication, etc. Insisting lots of group discussions which makes tem members to learn lot of stuffs like tolerance, views, etc. Encourage lots of interaction between peers which ultimately results in growing friendship and make them work comfortably. As a leader one should be more professional verbally, should teach juniors should not boss them, equality should be maintained between all members, trusting the fellow members are the prime factor for effective cooperation. Specific task should be structured, Communication skills should be developed, and the art of patience should be developed between team members. These factors create effective cooperation in team and make the work place healthy and successful environment.
Intercultural competence is a process of how we perceive others and how they perceive us. Intercultural communication competence is basically important in work place, developing the communication skills is the prime way to achieving it. Specific knowledge about the subject should be trained. Culture, religious beliefs, sensitive issues of other religion, importance of values should be trained. Team integrity should be developed to make team members comfortable working with fellow peers this can be done by group discussions, games where all the team members involving and performing specific task .social skills should be developed, equality among the members should be developed, the ability to maintain relationship. These factors really help in improving intercultural competence in a multicultural team.
4. WOMEN’S SITUATION IN BUSINESS
Women situation is different in different area; this is because of the culture in their countries. Unlike men it is not easy for women to enter into the business world even though they are more skillful. They need to their maximum output to prove themselves; these kinds of practices are mostly seen in hierarchical cultures. In Muslim countries women are not allowed to enter into business, their job is to take care of the house and children. If a women working in Muslim country they should be very careful in their way of dressing, ways in maintaining relationship with fellow mates.
Women are facing many challenges than men in business and all fields, Men may try to give comments on women beauty, hair, etc which may be disgusting to hear this leads to frustration in work. In some male dominant culture, women are not allowed to develop after a certain level even if they are more eligible than the opposite sex. Equal opportunity is not given to women this is because men’s think women are slow moving and take decisions late. Most women are given job like receptionist, secretary, etc. Security issues are major problem for women in some countries secured floors are especially build for women entrepreneurs to avoid problems. After a business meeting women representatives are not allowed to enter parties showing difference of gender which will affect social and relationship (party’s are meant for gluing relationship).In some cases women are not allowed to share their idea in a meeting male managers dominate without getting views of fellow mate this may also affect the organization. In some places maternity issue also plays a major role restricting women to grow in an organization. Moreover majorly women faces sexual issues and threats these are majorly in low developed countries. The prime factor is to develop a self confidence and courage is needed for women in business field, women can accord status in business situation by developing professionalism, strong relationship, learning the culture, code of conduct and values other culture who they are doing business with. Strong communication skills and dominant knowledge is also essential. Female are given equal importance in field of business especially in countries like Sweden, Denmark, Norway, USA, and other European countries.
To overcome the problems women facing in business field can be overcome easily. Women should like a reserve manner with business colleagues, being over-friendly and open might cause problems. When entering hierarchical culture, prefer higher rank official to give introduction and explain their qualification before starting a meeting this makes people in the meeting to get attention .In Muslim country women can also be successful by knowing their culture and acting according to it, women must be very careful in dressing and have to keep good relationship with colleagues ,interact in professionalism ,have to be subtle and non threatening manner. If a people tried to use words in wrong sense should not react to that. If a male colleague tried to put hand and take advantage instead of creating problems a big “no” is more than enough to end the problem. Women should be more courageous in business field than man .Deal the problem patiently, consult and make decision with fellow workers. Do not wear jewels and carry lot of money when going to under developed countries. Before going to place where they practice other culture try to study their culture and act accordingly. Thrash your inferiority complex when entering male dominant society.
The world is changing and there are more women entrepreneurs coming some of them made a very big impact in business field. Equality in gender is already following in lot of countries, mainly in developed countries. Still there are many countries where they are fighting for women rights. To avoid this inequality proper education is given to people and the law should enforce for equality between genders. For example in Sweden women are given equal importance in every field which made them high in success ratio than in male dominant culture.
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