Communicating Across Contexts – Intercultural Competence

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In a world where growing globalization brings countries and people closer together everyday, it is crucial to focus on communicating effectively with different groups of people. This is why intercultural and cross-cultural competence are essential skills in today’s workplace.

To define these concepts, they refer to the ability to interact with a variety of individuals with sufficient clarity and appropriate sensitivity. Across cultures, the understanding of acceptable and desirable practices tends to vary. Therefore, behavior that may be approved by a certain community and culture, may be unacceptable in a different cultural context. A communicator needs to be aware of these possible differences, make an effort to recognize them, and learn from experience.

Especially in the context of organisations, communication is key to sustained growth and success. As a result, intercultural competence gains prime importance in order to facilitate internal business communication. Another area where cross-cultural interaction plays a major role is that of idea generation, discussion and development.

The influence of varying cultural, socio-political and personal factors leads to a diverse range of perspectives. Gaining unique, multiple outlooks on a single idea or topic is invaluable, since it allows the company to account for several factors. This may not be possible in the case of a homogenised team or unidimensional point-of-views.

intercultural competence

An additional benefit of maintaining open lines of communication between and across cultures is that it allows for a company to obtain a wider reach. Through a well-rounded approach, an organization can extend its target group to more communities that they may not have been able to reach otherwise.

An emphasis on intercultural competence demonstrates and includes respect for the individuals, inclusivity and diversity. Such a focus also allows companies to work more closely and efficiently with their partners and subsidiaries in very different countries. This is because an extension of cross-cultural competence is international cooperation and communication.

It is clear that the modern company needs to prioritize intercultural competence in order to connect, interact, learn from and include various cultures, ethnicities and identities.

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