If you managed to endure – I mean enjoy – so much as 10 minutes of the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday night, you would have been left in little doubt of the varied and fascinating cultural differences that exist throughout the world.
Having worked with more than 75 clients in over 10 countries including Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Sweden, Denmark and the US, we understand better than most how different countries have different communication styles.
So, to help you master the art of communicating internationally, here are our top tips on how to recognise, respect and respond to these cultural differences.
Recognising Different Communication Styles
The diagram below is a useful tool to help you understand country specific communication styles. Just by looking at it, you can see that someone from Japan who likes to avoid confrontation and is emotionally unexpressive could find communicating with someone from Israel or France extremely challenging and vice versa.
Respecting Other Communication Styles
As well as recognising your counterpart’s communication style, it’s vital to understand your own style and the impact this has on others. For example, an Italian who always wears their heart on their sleeve, could appear over-powering to someone from Sweden who is more reserved and likes to keep their cards closer to their chest. It is only by gaining a clear understanding of your own particular communication style that you can respect how it affects others.
Responding To Other Communication Styles
Whether you are communicating in the Netherlands or in the Philippines, you will be able to influence others most effectively by flexing your communication style in response to theirs. This does not mean you have to mirror your counterpart, instead you should try to align your styles and gain a clearer understanding of what motivates them. So, when next you find yourself in conversation with a highly expressive and emotional Mexican, don’t let this phase you. Instead, stay calm and take the time to understand his or her particular needs and motivations so that you can respond accordingly.
Finally, although the differences in communication styles between countries can seem obvious and immense, don’t underestimate the diverse nature of the communication styles amongst you colleagues in the office. People are reassuringly never the same, whether they live in Tokyo, Paris, Stockholm or London!