Strategic global businesses and trades communications have occurred throughout history, but the contemporary situation is a relatively new phenomenon on the world stage. The world has become more complex and interdependent than ever. At the same time, the nature of many businesses has become both local and global oriented active. At the positive part of our current era, most of the knowledge and information about the world are in our fingertips. People are more connected in our risen global scale. Modern science and technology, methods of communications and means of transportation narrowed the gap of time, space and make human interactions quite easy and fast.
It is evident that we are living in the midst of communication technologies revolution. This revolution affects the way in which people feel, think, behave and interact. The rise of information technology made significant transformation in all aspects of social, economic, technical, and communications. Particularly, it accelerates the pace of communication, social, economic and business transformation. The brilliant innovations in fiber-optics and microchip technologies are obvious examples. They gave rise to a vast interactive communications network that made possible for most people around the world to have virtually immediate access to information anywhere in the world. The press media, cable and the satellite television, computer with its spectacular interactive Internet made the communication and information quite fast and efficient. Further, the proliferation of cellular phones, perhaps, is the most revolutionary innovation in contemporary communication industry. It revolutionized the way in which people can communicate with one another. The incorporation of video cameras in computer and cell phone technology enable an individual to record the event and immediately transmit it to Internet sites for the entire world to see. The fascinating part is that cell phones with cheap prepaid calling cards have helped business people to communicate globally, and find markets in less developed countries where phone landlines are poor or non-existed. In short, the new technologies enhanced the ability of transnational business communication activities across the globe.
The emerging of new technology has enormous impacts on intercultural and cross-cultural interactions. The profound development of new communication technologies and unfettered flow of information revolutionized cross-cultural communications, knowledge and understanding. It declining the distance and brought together people who had previously been isolated from one another. This transnational cultural integration has led some observers to predict the end of the distinctiveness of individual cultures and the advent of a “global culture.” Some cultural pundit see that as more and more people from a particular country or society are exposed to the beliefs and practices of other societies, they are more likely to abandon their traditional ways and emulate those of the rest of humanity. Other observers went further and declare that in the era of “globalization,” there is no such a thing as “distinctive character” exists. They see that cross-cultural difference is not a fashionable notion these days. Some experts of culture have tainted any idea of “distinctive” collective cultural characteristics. In other respect, some of the experts now prefer to stress cultural “hybridity or multicultural” aspects of people rather than think in terms of mono-cultural identities. Yet, in all circumstances, human beings are very conscious with their cultural identities. As a result, cultural differences exist in most parts of the world. This factor is slow to change. However, despite the timely convenient global connections, cultural barriers represent some obstacles in business interactions.
Cultural barriers will remain one of the major hurdles in any strategic business communications. No doubt, now the world is more interactive and interconnected. Yet, it is also, for the first time, a world in which the problems of intercultural issues have become more challenging for many business people. In other words, cross-cultural communications pose serious short and long-term challenges not just to some people interests, but to the survival of some businesses, and economic stability more broadly. For that reason, strategic response to global cross-cultural barriers is vital for business success. In other words, understanding intercultural communication within the global context is crucial for healthy and profitable business relations.
Culture is one of the powerful elements that shape human perceptions, attitudes and overall meaning of being human. The recognition of cultural differences will create an appreciation for “the coexisting and equally valid patterns of life which mankind has created for itself from the raw materials of existence.” Further, cultural awareness equips business entrepreneurs, managers and representatives with the knowledge and understanding to grapple with the dynamic, interconnected and complex nature of intercultural relations in the world today. It is reasonable to say that culture is not a static phenomenon, but it is an evolving complex process. Cultural evolution and rapid transformation is real as we are witnessing it today taking place allover the world. Sometimes the dynamic influx of cross-cultural interactions “converge,” reinforce each other and create more rewarding relations. However, sometimes cultural differences are less friendly, disagreements or in direct “clashes.” Such cultural dynamics is occurring during general human interactions, and no doubt it occurs sometimes during strategic business communications. In short, cross-cultural interaction has positive and negative affects in overall human and business communications.
Cross-cultural awareness is very vital for any successful business transaction. It is important to be equipped with the necessary knowledge and understanding on how to deal with other cultures. To be an expert business person is not necessarily an advantage that will give you free tickets to communicate with any culture without prior knowledge and understanding. Experience shows that business experts sometimes have rather inflexible views and are disinclined to let new cultures or ideas disturb the comfort of their expertise. We at The Key Group believe that a zealot cannot conduct strategic cross-cultural business communications. In our view, it is more necessary than ever, for any business entrepreneur to possess and strengthen strategic intercultural business communication skills. This skill is crucial to understand one’s business interlocutors who are from different cultures, perceptions and mindsets and assess their strengths and weaknesses. Moreover, it allows the prediction with some degree of accuracy how one’s business counterparts would behave and evaluate them for any possible positive or negative businesses outcomes. To obtain cross-cultural understanding is not necessary to abandon our own cultural and values. It is about openness, understanding for profitable successful business transactions, and overall peaceful and healthy human relations.
Strategic global business communications need “cultural intelligence.” To enhance one’s cultural knowledge, one requires considerable amount of time, strong motivation, serious engagement, active participation, and other technical, cognitive and behavioral skills. In a practical sense, cross-cultural business interaction is sometimes extremely complicated. The challenging factor is that conducting business with people from different countries and cultures is like waking in a dark space full of “eggshells”. Sometimes, people’s prides are so easily affected, offended, or even insulted. So, knowing the essence, aspects and dynamic of other cultures is the major element for successful global business communications. Of course, there is no magical black box that puts everything about cross-cultural business communication in order. Providing defiant prescription is a compelling challenge, especially in globally diverse cultural societies culturally. Yet, we at The Key Group believe the following points are essential strategy to overcome cross-cultural challenges, build critical awareness and enhance business communication skills:
- Acknowledge the existence of different cultures around the world, and avoid cultural prejudices.
- Show interest, respect and appreciation about other cultures.
- Do not assume that culture in general is both too static and too uniform; and be aware that there are many changes that might affect cultural values over time.
- Identify and develop strong awareness about the culture of interest.
- Conduct critical research and formulate examined knowledge about specific culture in question, its dimension, and social, psychological and cognitive process.
- Make direct connection, interact/talk, practice with open mind with the people from different cultural backgrounds.
- Practice attention and active listening.
- Build intellectual ability and empathy, and try to understand the perceptions, emotions, and feelings of people from other cultures, and imagining how they see and evaluate things from their cultural perspective.
- Accept, accommodate, adapt or even change behavior to suit the specific different cultural situation of interest.
- Be aware of the negative influence of other culture on one’s own behavior and that of others who are culturally different.
- Carefully plan the course of action when dealing with different cultural environment and culturally different people.
In general, there is no absolute standard, only particular emphases. So use any methods and techniques and immerse in cross-cultural activities and build better cultural understanding and awareness. Contemporary business environment is globally diverse with complex local and international boundaries. Sometimes, these boundaries are fluid dynamic and cutting across different geographies and cultural differences. To understand another culture is quite challenging and sometimes even disturbing. It requires considerable amount of knowledge and practical techniques. Often, strategic business interactions require openness, toleration, acceptance and sometimes difficult trade-offs. In very concise manner, it needs “tough-mindedness” to recognize, accept, embrace and interact with cultural differences. The reality is that the world is not one identical culture or sentimental community in which we are all really the same under the surface. People have different perspectives, formed by particular cognitive perceptions, interests, histories, and experiences. It would be odd if these human elements are not applying to, or effect cross-cultural business communications.
Today’s business requires strong skills in intercultural communications. Without knowledge of other cultures, business people might make embarrassing mistakes that might lose lucrative business opportunities. It is important for healthy business interactions and positive for company’s growth. The leverage of cross-cultural knowledge equips business people with knowledge and understanding. Also, it enables them to grapple with the dynamic and complex nature of intercultural business traits and relations in the world today. Intercultural knowledge helps business entrepreneurs to assess the overall business environment and formulate coherent understanding, sound judgments and better decisions. The success of our firms The Key Group International Inc. & The Key Publishing House Inc., are the practical examples of the importance intercultural knowledge.
Global interdependence has arrived, and no business entrepreneur can afford not to come in terms with it. This global interdependence is fueled by innovations, advanced means of transportation, and sophisticated communications technologies. It has infused our everyday lives and defined our space and time and how business interaction shall proceed. Now, we may not travel the world, but indubitably, the world will come to us.
Overall, it is vital for all those who are involved in local and global business activities to acquire or increase their cross-cultural knowledge and experience. Also, it is time for those who restricted their business endeavors in their own cultural zones to open up and interact with other cultures. Even from a local business perspective, dealing with other culture has positive business rewards and satisfactions. At the end, the savvy and open-minded business entrepreneur with great ideas, ethnics, intercultural knowledge and courage will survive and thrive in the current complex global business environment.