Intercultural Communication in the Workplace

Essay by 12whuzurdaddyUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, May 2004

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The face of the workplace is changing: More women, more ethnic minorities, and more immigrants are entering the work force. As a result, the workplace is increasingly multicultural. Now, think about what you've read about today's job market: Employers look for job candidates who have good communication and interpersonal skills and are team players. Those skills are increasingly important as the American work force expands to include a wide variety of cultures.

Culture is a set of learned attitudes, behaviors, and the other things that comprise a way of life. Although you'll share your organization's culture with your co-workers, it's unlikely that you'll share your personal culture with all your co-workers. You'll find many "ways of life" represented in the workplace. Depending on your experience with and exposure to different cultures, your "comfort zone" with different groups can expand or contract.

The challenge to today's employer is to ensure that its work force's diversity is a source of strength, not one of conflict.

Recognize, however, that it is not the sole responsibility of the employer to see that goal achieved; all employees, including you, share in that responsibility.

Communication Styles

Miscommunication is a major source of intercultural discomfort and conflict. Communication--verbal, written, and nonverbal--goes beyond what's said, written, or expressed. The process of communicating differs among cultures: It's how it's said (or written or expressed), when it's said, and why it's said. These things comprise one's communication style. Miscommunication can (and often does) result when an individual's style of communicating differs from that of another person. In today's workplace, you can bet that, at some point, you'll deal with a co-worker whose communication style differs from yours.

Learning how to communicate among cultures is a necessary ability no matter what type of career field you enter.

"Communication--verbal, written, and...