Verbal and Non-Verbal Cross-Cultural Communication


Lead-in: Brief enumeration of the importance and problems of cultural communication. Cultural disparities affect people’s communication across various cultures. Verbal communication and non-verbal communication constitute the major cultural differences influencing intercultural communication (Reisinger 2009, p 1965).

Thesis Statement

Both verbal and non-verbal communication should be properly managed since these two issues influence the effectiveness of cross-cultural communication. The ignorance of verbal communication results in irrelevant interpretation of the message from one language to another. In its turn in the case of non-verbal communication failure can cause cultural misunderstanding. Regarding the consequences, both verbal and non-verbal communication seems to be equally crucial. Therefore, to understand what problems are less damageable for effective communication, it is necessary to consider these issues and related dilemmas in more detail and to conduct a detailed examination of both.

The concept of intercultural communication

Brief overview:

“Intercultural communication is a communication process in which people from different cultures try to understand what others from different cultures try to communicate and what their messages mean” (Reinsinger, 2009, 167).

Difficulties in cross-cultural communication emerge as the result of cultural and religious divergence (Broawayes and Price, 2008). Deep analysis of historic and traditional issues of each country is crucial for successful business communication.

Further analysis of different cultural aspects leads to the analysis of two major aspects of communication – verbal and non-verbal. The detailed consideration of each of the levels can reveal the extent and seriousness of the problems.

Problems and issues influencing effective cross-cultural communication concerning verbal communication

Wrong allocation of lexical stresses and importance of words may lead to a communication failure (Ghari and Usunier 2003). This is predetermined by the lack of cultural awareness. Therefore, it is necessary to develop a diligent level of competence when conducting business at the international level (Moon and Woolliams, 2000).

The analysis of numerous case studies has highlighted that the problems of communication are also predetermined by cross-cultural interaction (Foong and Richardson, 2008). This negatively influences management strategies thus worsening the situation in the market. Therefore, it is purposefully to implement the consideration of cultural diversity.

The usability of the website directly relates to the appropriateness of the written texts (Nantel and Glasser, 2008). It means that even an excellent translation contributed to the creation of cultural distance affecting the negative evaluation of the web. Therefore, this problem is rather crucial since we live in the era of global online communication (Kalende-Kaiser, 2000). The internet should also count the cultural aspect when creating sites.

Problems and issues influencing effective cross-cultural communication concerning non-verbal communication

The gestures and of non-verbal communication differ significantly in various cultures, as the speaker is limited in choosing a particular frame of the message (Kirch 1979):

  • Studying the differences of the body language of Western cultures;
  • The analysis of gestures and “silent language” of Eastern cultures;

To achieve the goal of communication in the business setting, it is first necessary to study carefully the needs and expectations of each member of organizations, including their traditions and cultural norms. The case study presented by Sriussadaporn (2006) is an outright example of how inappropriate treatment of cultural differences can influence. The main problem related to the non-verbal aspect of communication is the irrelevant treatment of the cultural behavior of Thai workers. This leads to the weakening of structural organization and management tactics.

Non-verbal message renders more connotative information which can be unfamiliar to the agent of the message (Dwyer, 2002, p 79). Verbal components bear two times more non-verbal components. Business communication is based on successful negotiations where the non-verbal component is prior.

Discussion of the problems and analysis of consequences

Cultural non-verbal communication is a more important carrier of cultural differences because “[n]on-verbal communication is learnt unconsciously by observing others in the society or group” (Wynn, and Engleberg, 2002, p. 72). It is crucial to investigate the cultural meaning of such gestures like eye contact, head shaking, and other types of behavior.

Nonverbal communication is always present within the context of the framework. There are seven aspects of nonverbal communication that encapsulate cultural information (Wynn, and Engleberg, 2002).

“In any negotiation, you are always interacting with individuals, but your real purpose is to influence a larger organization – representing a diverse set of interests to produce a meaningful yes” (Sebenius, 2002, p. 5). For instance, in case one Italian industrial firm wants to obtain a large market segment in France, it is first must establish friendly and bias-free relations. This is possible after a top-down investigation of the policy of French companies.

A successful business organization is possible when taking all the standards of cross-cultural etiquette into the deepest consideration. Each culture has its own culture of business communication.

Reference List

Broadway’s, M. J., and Price, R. 2008. Understanding cross-cultural management.US: Pearson Education.

Dwyer, J. 2002. Communication in Business. Australia, NSW: Pearson Education.

Foong, Y. P., and Richardson, S. 2008. The perceptions of Malaysians in a Japanese company. An international journal. 15(3), pp. 221-243.

Ghari, P. N., and Usinier, J. C. 2003. ‘Cultural Aspects of International Business Negotiations’ International Business Negotiations. US: Emerald Group Publishing.

Kadende-Kaiser, R. M. Interpreting Language and Culture Discourse: Internet Communication among Burundian in the Diaspora. 47(2), pp. 121-148.

Kirch, Max. 1979. Non-verbal communication across cultures. The Modern Language Journal. 63(8), pp. 416-423.

Moon, C., and Woolliams, P. 2000. Managing Cross Cultural Business Ethics. Journal of Business Ethics. 27(1-2), pp. 105-115.

Nantel, J., and Glasser, E. 2008. The impact of language and culture on perceive website usability. Journal of Engineering Technology Management. 25(1-2), pp. 112-122.

Reisinger, Y. 2009. International Tourism: Cultures and Behavior. Hungary: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Sebenius, J. K. 2002. The Hidden Challenge of Cross-Border Negotiations. Harvard Business Review. 80(3), pp. 76-85.

Sruissadapom, R. 2006. Managing international business communication problems at work: a pilot study companies in Thailand. Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal. 13(4), pp. 330-344.

Wynn, D., and Engleberg, I. 2002. Working in Groups: Communication Principles and Strategies. NSW: Pearson Education.

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