Culture is one of the major factors that dictate the way in which people act under given circumstances. Vance & Paik (2006) define culture as “a system of values and norms that are shared among a group of people and that, taken together, constitute a design for living”. The influence of culture on life is all encompassing and culture impacts on all relationships, be they personal or professional.
This paper shall begin by stating and analyzing the reasons why people may not appreciate the cultural point of view of others. It shall then proceed to discuss how appreciating cultural diversity affects peoples’ ability to communicate effectively in the context of a multinational corporation.
Reasons why People may not Appreciate Different Viewpoints
One of the reasons why people may not appreciate the cultural point of view of others is because of the differences in cultural values. This is contrary to the fact that for people to peacefully coexist with each other, they have to have a uniform sense of what is acceptable.
This sense of “shared moral and social values” according to which the members of the community are expected to behave is the defining characteristics of a community. Bridgeman, Lind and Keating (2008) state that this shared morals and values are learnt from the unique society in which one comes from.
Another reason for lack of appreciation is because different cultures lay emphasis on different values. For example, in the Chinese culture, values such as modesty and cooperation are held in high esteem (Singelis & Brown, 1995). The Western world on the other hand places greater value on individualism and personal ambition and success. A person brought up in a highly collectivist culture (such as the Chinese) will not relate with the person from the individualistic culture.
There exists some competition between cultures and this may cause people not to appreciate the culture of others. This competition may lead people to see their own traditions and roots as being better than those of others.
Kuran & Sandholm (2008) rightfully reveal that in all interactions, individuals face tradeoffs and a person has to contend with competing needs. A person from one culture may therefore fail to appreciate the views of another person since they see their culture as the “right one”.
This rigid stance will result in a breakdown in communication relationships since effective communication demands that all parties to the communication effort appreciate each others views (Tourish & Hargie, 2004). One can only overcome this by learning to adjust their behavior so to accommodate the cultural systems of others.
Culture dictates the roles that different people have to play in the society. These roles may include into categories such as gender or even age. In Western cultures, gender does not play an important role in business relationship where equality is encouraged (Novinger, 2001). In this setting, the inputs of all members of the organization are equally appreciated. In contrast, paternalistic cultures which are highly masculine view women as being second to men. In such a setting, the opinion and view of females may be disregarded by the male.
How Appreciating cultural Diversity Affects communication
Effective communication is deemed as the corner stone on which any successful relationship, be it business or personal, is built (Adair, 2009). Intercultural interactions if not properly handled may result in a breakdown of communication. Multinational Corporations are one of the places where a lot of intercultural interactions have taken place.
In this context, an appreciation of cultural diversity may aid in the achievement of organizational goals and objectives. This is because cultural diversity calls for the respecting and acknowledging of differences among people in relation to their age, sex, ethnicity, abilities and beliefs (Hankin, 2008).
People from different cultures may develop different and unique interpretations to a similar message (Rosenbloom and Larsen, 2003). Without this understanding, a person may take it for granted that his/her message has been well received by others.
This may result in miscommunication which may have huge negative repercussions for the organization. A person who appreciates cultural diversity will take into consideration the cultural context both when sending and receiving messages in the multicultural setting (Gudykunst & Mody, 2002).
The time consciousness of a person is influenced by their culture. Katsioloudes and Hadjidakis (2007) reveal that the sense of time differs by culture and while some cultures favor exactness, others are more relative. For the individual from the exact culture such as Germany, time is viewed as a tangible asset and timeliness and promptness is rewarded.
In cultures such as the Latin American, time is stated in relative terms. Phrases such as “some time in the future” are therefore commonly used as opposed to giving exact times. A person who appreciates these cultural differences will avoid the conflict and frustration that may arise as a result of differing concepts of time among cultures.
This paper set out to analyze the reason why people may fail to appreciate the cultural view points of others as well as discuss how appreciating cultural diversity may result in effective communication in the context of a multinational corporation. From the analysis herein, it is clear that culture impacts on how we relate with other people.
Culture may cause one to disregard the opinion and views of other people. Appreciating cultural diversity offsets the negative results of intercultural interactions. This results in effective communication which is necessary for the achievement of organizational goals.
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