4 Tips for Better Multicultural Communication

By Collaborate Staff, July 23, 2014

Corporate meetings often involve bringing together leaders from around the world, and differences in communication style can throw a wrench into even the most carefully planned events. Walter Stugger, managing director at Inspiria Global Event Service in New York, gives these four tips for facilitating better communication among cultures:

1. Speak precisely and avoid slang.
Say, “Be here at 8,” not “Get here early.” Say, “I don’t like that,” not “That rubs me the wrong way.”

2. Avoid visual gestures.
Thumbs-up means “A-OK” in the United States, but it’s a threat in the Middle East and an insult in South America.

3. Watch your body language.
Showing your shoe sole is an insult in many countries. Standing too close (or too far away) during conversation also might be misunderstood.

4. Offer evidence that’s culturally approved.
Offering numerical evidence—studies, reports and rankings—is convincing proof in some cultures, while others value testimony from elders, precedent or clergy’s approval.

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