We all have our business trip from hell experience. Harassed at airports, ignored and abused by airline staff, sitting for hours on the ground and then for hours in the air. Feeling disoriented, nauseous, squirming in undersized seats, eating bad food and watching movie re-runs until we arrive somewhere halfway around the world. Now, the real fun begins. You have to communicate with the locals, try to achieve your objectives and the clock is ticking. We have all been there and we don’t want to go back. So, next time, try to prepare and follow these 9 strategies for global communication success. You will be glad you did.
1) Speak slowly and clearly:
Focus on clearly enunciating and slowing down your speech. Even if you’re pressured for time, don’t rush through your communication. Doing so often takes more time, as miscommunication and misunderstanding can result and you’ll ultimately have to invest additional time in clearing up the confusion.
2) Ask for clarification:
If you are not 80% sure you’ve understood what others say, politely ask for clarification. Avoid assuming you’ve understood what’s been said. Be active in confirming understanding and modify your communication techniques if necessary.
3) Frequently check for understanding:
Check both that you’ve understood what’s been said and that others have fully understood you. Practice active listening to check your own understanding and use questions to check other people’s understanding.
4) Be specific & concise:
Spell out your expectations and deadlines clearly. Instead of, ‘Please get back to me shortly,’ say ‘Please email the completed report on Wednesday, February 21st by 5:00pm Japan Standard Time (JST)
5) Choose your medium of communication effectively:
Carefully choose your form of communication (phone, teleconferencing, video-conferencing, email, instant message and face to face). When a message is complex and complicated or there is tension or conflict that needs to be resolved, switch to another medium.
6) Provide information via multiple channels:
Follow phone calls with emails that summarise what’s been said. When possible, provide presentations, agendas, etc. in advance so those working in their non-native language can get familiar with materials.
7) Avoid the “stereotype trap”:
Study up on the cultural nuances of different countries you are dealing with. Don’t rely on the mass
media as they usually depict foreign culture in a poor light. Having an open mind is more engaging from a
8) Be patient:
Cross-cultural communication takes more time. If not at all times, certainly initially you cannot expect your communication to occur with the same speed and ease as when you are communicating with someone from your own culture.
9) Focus on the similarities:
Remember and focus on the similarities when communicating. Our humanity makes all of us more similar than different.
So, there you have it. Using these will make the “business” part of the business trip go much smoother and may actually help you to make that deal. Keep these in mind when you have guests from another land and they will make them feel more welcome in a strange place that you call home. Communication is the basis for business success. Just hope your boss let’s you fly business class.