Effective Communication:

Managing Cultural Differences

Cross-Cultural Communication

Understanding, Identifying and Overcoming Blocks to Communication


Vadim Kotelnikov personal logo Vadim Kotelnikov





"There are hundreds of languages in the world, but a smile speaks them all." ~ Anonymous


Managing Cross-Cultural Differences

Eye Contact

  • North Americans view direct eye contact as a sign of honesty

  • Asians view direct eye contact as a form of disrespect

Cross-Cultural Communication

Hopes and Fears3


  • the possibility of dialogue

  • learning something new

  • developing friendships

  • understanding different points of view


  • being judged

  • miscommunication

  • patronizing or hurting others intentionally

Identifying the Belief Systems to Spot Blocks to Communication

Published at Honolulu Community Center

Ethnocentrism: Inability to accept another culture's world view; "my way is the best."

Discrimination: Differential treatment of an individual due to minority status; actual and perceived; e.g., "we just aren't equipped to serve people like that."

Stereotyping: Generalizing about a person while ignoring presence of individual difference; e.g., "she's like that because she's Asian all Asians are nonverbal."

Cultural Blindness: Differences are ignored and one proceeds as though differences did not exist; e.g., "there's no need to worry about a person's culture if you're a sensitive teacher, you do okay."

Cultural Imposition: Belief that everyone should conform to the majority; e.g., "we know what's best for you, if you don't like it you can go elsewhere."

12 Tips for Global Business Travelers

  • Learn something about the country, local customs, and cultural sensitivities to avoid making faux pas while abroad.

  • Express yourself carefully. Accents, idioms, and business jargon may be unfamiliar.

Structuring a Strategic Alliance

10 Questions To Answer

  1. How good are you in managing cultural differences?

Harnessing Cultural Intelligence

Cultural Intelligence

Managing Cross-Cultural Differences

Colors: Some Emotions and Symbolizations They Can Cause

Business International

Competitive Advantage: US versus Japan

Cross-Cultural Differences: China and United States

People Skills

Yin-Yang  of Communication

Communication GEM

Dalai Lama's Words of Wisdom


Conduct During Negotiations

10-Step Yoga Guideline for Resolving Inner and Outer Conflict

Humorous Business Plan: Great Communicator

Targeted Market: "I like to talk with people who express my thoughts clearly." Unknown...

Communication Management Skills: "Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth." Oscar Wilde...

Market Analysis: "Some read to think, these are rare; some to write, these are common; and some read to talk, and these form the great majority." Charles Caleb Colton... More

Managing Intercultural Differences

You cannot treat everybody the same regardless of culture without adverse consequences. Simple gestures that would be benign or complementary in one country could be a gross insult in another country.  Acts that people from one culture perform every day and phrases that they use all the time with each other could be offensive and judged negatively by people from a different culture... More

 Case in Point  Dell Inc.

When Dell Inc. moved into Asia, people told them that their Western concept wouldn't work there. "But rather than tailoring the strategy to fit the culture, we said, " We think our direct model will work cross-culturally. And we're willing to take the risk," writes Michael Dell1, Chairman and CEO of the Dell Computer Corporation.

"To be sure we do some localization," he continues. You obviously can't sell English-language computers in China. And from a cultural perspective, customers in other countries are different. We learned, for example, that some Germans aren't comfortable telephoning in a response to an advertisement; they find it too forward. They will, however, respond to an ad that features a fax number. They'll send in a fax, asking for more information, and will provide their name and phone number so that a Dell representative can call them. The conversation that ensues is almost exactly the same as that which would have occurred if the German customer had made the call himself. It was a slight modification that allowed us to adapt to cultural differences without altering our business strategies."1

 Case in Point  Global Private Banking Centre (GPBC), Singapore

Credit Swiss Private Banking (CSPB) Copernicus project team developed the Global Private Banking Centre (GPBC), Singapore.2 The project team comprised 130 individuals with 20 different nationalities. Generally, the multicultural mix of the project was not an issue, because all members were professionals who fit into the culture of the project.

However, cultural differences were visible when differences of opinion manifested themselves. For instance, members were expected to be forthright in giving their views on projects and to speak their minds. However, a newly joined IT expert who was Chinese never expressed a candid opinion that a concept was not worth pursuing at the team meetings, but he would unilaterally decide not to work on the concept if he was convinced that it was not going to work. Initially his behavior was seen as disloyal, almost hostile. He was asked why he didn't publicly voice his aversions to specific concepts when they came up for discussion at the team meetings. After he explained his rationale, it became apparent that his behavior was influenced by traditional Chinese values. Traditionally, the Chinese do not like to publicly criticize a colleague. They want to ensure that the person being criticized does not lose face.

 Humorous Tips from Men  25 Rules for Women

  • If something we said can be interpreted two ways, and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one.

  • Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument. In fact, all comments become null and void after 7 days... More



Cross-Cultural Differences


  1. Direct from Dell, Michael Dell with Catherine Fredman

  2. Intercultural Management, Nina Jacob

  3. "Waging Peace in Our Schools", Linda Lantieri and Janet Patti