My Intercultural Journey – Part 1

When I started training on Business Communication, I wasn’t aware of how my culture impacts communication. It was at the “Business English for the 21 Century” conference, organized by STETS (Singapore Tertiary English teachers Society) and IATEFL BESIG at Singapore in September 2005, I first came across the term “ Cultural Differences in Communication.” This conference opened my eyes to the fact culture plays an integral part in communication, and if my trainees had to be equipped to work in foreign shores, they must be made aware of these differences.

STETS IATEFL Besig Conference 2005
STETS IATEFL Besig Conference 2005

So started my journey to understand the impact of culture on communication.

I have read many books on the subject and attended many conferences. The following is a list of books which have influenced me and helped me in dealing with cultural differences in Communication.

The Culture Map by Erin Mayer talks of Cultural relativity; It talks of eight scales which managers must be aware of, and how cultures vary from one end of the spectrum to another. I may be a high context communicator when compared to the American or German, but will be considered low context communicator while dealing with the Thai business women.

Going Dutch in Beijing by Mark McCrum is a simple book of do’s and don’ts when visiting other countries.

A geography of time by Robert Levine talks of how cultures view time and how this view impacts business relationships.

HBR’s On Managing cultures is a wonderful compilation of articles which inspires to go into an indepth  study of cultural intelligence.

CQ – developing Cultural intelligence at work by Christopher Earley,Soon Ang and Joo-seng Tan talks of ways in which we can in develop a better understanding of the business world by increasing our cultural quotient.

Culturally Speaking – Managing rapport in talk across cultures by Helen Spencer Oatey talks of rapport management in business communication. According to the author, Communication is not just transactional but interactional; Communication affects the feelings of people.

Intercultural Communication The Indian Context by Ramesh Rao and Avinash Thombre looks at the various influences which have gone into making the modern Indian. It talks of of the challenges of, and opportunities for communication across verbal. Non-verbal, and cultural differences existing in India.

Finally, Between Us How cultures create emotions by Batja Mesquita explores the role of culture in shaping emotions. Though emotions are universal, our reaction is largely affected by the culture we belong to.

I will be adding a detailed review about each of these books.

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