Understanding various layers of culture

Understanding Cultural Dynamics and Cross-Cultural Communication

Scroll down to read more!

Understanding Cultural Dynamics and Cross-Cultural Communication

Scroll down to read more!
Understanding various layers of culture

Table of Contents

Introduction

We each belong to an entire collection of cultures, which includes, national cultures, subcultures (based on regions, tribes etc), organizational or corporate cultures, industry cultures, professional or functional cultures. For that reason, culture can be defined as a shared system of values, beliefs, and attitudes. It affects our own actions and the way we distinguish the actions of others. Culture is not a product of a single individual’s personality, nor does it usually change significantly from one generation to the next.

Various descriptions have been used to portray the process of understanding various layers of culture:

1) Culture is an iceberg, of which we see only the visible tip, also called as explicit culture. Explicit culture represented by artifacts and products, such as language, food, artistic expression, behavior and lifestyle (pace, public display of emotions, noise, physical contact, work ethics etc).

2) Culture is an onion, with layers that must be peeled away to reach the core of implicit culture, the universal truths of the culture.

3) Culture is a mirror image, in which the values (what we would like to do, how we would prefer to see ourselves) and norms (what we know we should do) are not same but are transposed and sometimes opposite.

To be successful within an organization and in all societies in which the global organization operates HR professionals must understand the complication of culture and the probable effect of cultural forces on the execution of global strategies and the development of local tactical HR practices. Being global requires an act of imagination – being able to see the view from inside another person’s culture and using that consciousness to create solutions and bridges.

There may be multiple types of culture in a global organization and the distances between these cultures can create conflicts that will impede with the organization’s ability to execute its global strategic plan. In this write-up we will try to understand various types of culture, analyze the research work done in this domain and effect of various cultures within team.

Complexities involved in Cross-Cultural Communication

The main and most important key to effectual cross-cultural communication is knowledge. It is extremely essential that people understand the probable problems of cross-cultural communication, and makes a huge cognizant effort to overcome these problems. Also, it is important to assume that one’s efforts will not always be successful, and adjust one’s behavior aptly.

A lot of people always assume that there is a momentous possibility that cultural differences are the cause of communication problems. They should always be willing to be tolerant and pardoning, rather than intimidating and hostile, if problems develop. One should respond bit by bit and cautiously in cross-cultural exchanges, not jumping to the conclusion that you know what is being thought and said.

William Ury in his paper advised that in case of any heated divergence one should stop, listen, and think, or as he puts it “go to the balcony” when the situation gets stressed. By this he means to withdraw from the situation, step back, and reflect on what is going on before you act. This helps in cross cultural communication as well. When things seem to be going faultily, stop or slow down and think. What could be going on here? Is it possible I misinterpreted what they said, or they misinterpreted me? Often delusion is the source of the crisis.

Reflective Listening is one of the key ingredients in cross-cultural communication. Reflective Listening is used a lot to check out the meaning of what someone says – by repeating back what you think you have heard. You are then able to substantiate that you understand what has been said accurately. This is as helpful as many times words and even gestures are used differently between languages or cultural groups.

Often mediators who are familiar with both cultures can be cooperative in cross-cultural communication situations. They can help in translating both the matter and the way of what is said. For instance, they can tone down strong statements that would be considered unsuitable in one culture but not in another, before they are shared with people from a culture that does not talk together in such a strong way. They can also correct the timing of what is said and what does it implies. Some cultures move quickly to the reference or direct to the subject; others talk about other things long enough to set up rapport or a relationship with the other person. If discussion on the principal topic begins too soon, the group that needs a “warm up” first will feel uncomfortable. A mediator or intermediary who understands this can give details about problem, and make apt procedural adjustments.

Sometimes mediators can also make the communication a bit more difficult. If a mediator is the same culture or nationality as one of the disputants, but not the other, this gives the facade of prejudice, even when none exists. Even when prejudice is not intended, it is common for mediators to be more sympathetic or more understanding of the person who is of his or her own culture, simply because they understand them better. Yet when the mediator is of a third cultural group, the prospective for cross-cultural misunderstandings increases further. In such cases engaging in extra discussions about the process and the manner of carrying out the discussions is appropriate, as is extra time for confirming and re-confirming understandings at every step in the conversation or negotiation process.

Conclusion

Understanding cultural differences is critical for the success of an organization in global arena because there are roles played by culture that influences talent management strategies and practices at workplace. In this write-up we have examined several important dimensions of various cultures for gaining insights and understanding the cultures of employees that staff our organizations domestically and overseas. We hope that this write-up will be of some use to HR professionals that are managing and developing talents at global stage.

Thanks and Regards,

Sanjeev Himachali

Emails: [email protected]; [email protected]

BLOGS: http://sanjeevhimachali.blogspot.com/ and http://sanjeevhimachali.multiply.com/

Did you like this post? Share it!

2 Comments

  1. I am assaigned to deliver a lecture on cross-cultural communication. I have been reading many articles found on the net. Most of them just repeated the platitudes. But this article is an exception. The tip of the ice and Onion methaphors are striking. In fact, they force us to think unthinkable about the subtle nuances that organize a cultural map.

  2. I’m assigned to deliver a lecture on cross-cultural communication. I have been reading articles on this topic. I found most of them repeating the platitudes. But this write-up is an exception, specially becasue of tip of the iceberg and Onion metaphors. These methpors force us to think about the subtle, often unnoticable nuances that organize the inner life of a culture. In fact, it forces us to think unthinkable.

    Bhushan

Comments are closed.

A Word From Our Sponsors

Ads help make Workology resources free for everyone. We respect your privacy. To see our Privacy Policy click here.

Recommended Posts

Recruiting Reimagined: How Specialized Software Strengthens Hiring in 2024

Explore how specialized software is transforming recruitment strategies in 2024. We discuss the benefits of innovative tools for hiring....

How to Reduce Stress at Work (and Life) with Meditation

We can’t always limit stress or the amount of it in our lives, but we can arm ourselves with resources and tools to help...
Best HR Certification prep books

Best HR Certification Prep Books for SHRM and HRCI

Looking for additional reading to support your study prep for HRCI or SHRM? We've got a comprehensive list for you right here....
Your Global HR Certification: A Professional's Guide

Your Global HR Certification: A Professional’s Guide

Elevate your HR career with our guide to Global HR Certification. Explore benefits, prep tips, and vital resources for exam success!...

Resources for Session Attendees of Digitizing Talent

Resources for conference session attendees of Digitizing Talent: Creative Strategies for the Digital Recruiting Age....

Ways to Set up Self-Paced Studies in Higher Education

In the world of higher education, the winds of change are blowing. More than ever, students are looking for learning options that fit their...

HR Certification Podcast Episode 9: 2024 Changes to HRCI and SHRM Exams

In this episode of the HR Certification Podcast, we are reviewing the latest changes in SHRM and HRCI exams....

Checkout Our Products

Ads help make Workology resources free for everyone. We respect your privacy. To see our Privacy Policy click here.

More From Workology

HR Certification Podcast Episode 9: 2024 Changes to HRCI and SHRM Exams

In this episode of the HR Certification Podcast, we are reviewing the latest changes in SHRM and HRCI exams.

Ways to Set up Self-Paced Studies in Higher Education

Click on read more to open this post on our blog.

Resources for Session Attendees of Digitizing Talent

Resources for conference session attendees of Digitizing Talent: Creative Strategies for the Digital Recruiting Age.
Your Global HR Certification: A Professional's Guide

Your Global HR Certification: A Professional’s Guide

Elevate your HR career with our guide to Global HR Certification. Explore benefits, prep tips, and vital resources for exam success!