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Communicating across cultures


Playwright George Bernard Shaw said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”


The uncertainty of whether a message was delivered as planned can happen in any exchange between people; but can be even more challenging when trying to connect across cultures.


Different languages can certainly play a part, but other barriers may also exist:

· Varied ways of perceiving the world regarding hierarchy, time, or natural law · Becoming trapped by adherence to perceived norms · Different approaches to problem solving · Emotional response to taking risks, saving face, or ability to tolerate ambiguity

Effective cross-cultural communication requires preparing, listening and observing; learning to to understand things from the other person’s worldview.


Succeeding in cross-cultural situations is not a question of what is good or bad, or who is right or wrong; rather, it is about understanding differences and finding ways to work out a meeting of minds despite them.

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