Differences in intercultural communication can provoke misunderstandings, tensions, conflicts and can even lead to the end of a relationship between two partners acting sincerely according to the norms of their culture.
Without being aware, our interlocutor from another culture may feel uncomfortable, offended or aggressed by our behaviour, our communication style and our gestures.
Most people will agree with the “golden rule”: “Treat other people as you would like them to treat you”. In intercultural communication, however, this rule should not be applied. Cultural empathy recommends rather to “treat people as they would like to be treated”.
What does your foreign interlocutor expect from you? What communication style does he/she prefer? For example:
- Treatment: formal or informal?
- Communication: direct, sincere or ambiguous, harmonious?
- Is there a preference for “going straight to the point” or for “beating around the bush”?
- What kind of information do you need to know about the other before starting a business?
- Which attitude is most appreciated: modesty or assertiveness?
- What is the meaning of silence?
- What is the adequate interpersonal distance?
- Are people allowed to express their emotions fluently or must they control them?
- Interrupting someone demonstrates your interest in the matter or your bad manners?
- How are the new communication technologies perceived and used?
- To make the participants aware of the cultural relativity of their communication style.
- To link the cultural preferences in communication to the cultural dimensions to show the logic and the consistency of each communication style with the underlying culture.
- To improve the intercultural communication skills.