Strategies on Managing Cross-Cultural Communication in International Environment: Drawing an Experience from Series of Internships in International Organizations


Navigating effective communication can indeed be challenging. Let alone the conflict experienced in the companies in our own country, managing communication in cross-cultural settings can double the challenge. If succeeded, the skills can be useful throughout our long-life professional career. In this article, Indonesia Mengglobal Columnist, Cresti Eka Fitriana shares her experience in learning cross-cultural communications at the workplace from her experience working in South Korean companies and Korea-based International Organizations. She brought experience and skill to her current works in Indonesia.

Get to the Basic: Dive into the Organizational Culture

Before jumping into the how-to manage Cross-Cultural Communication, it is essential to do background research of the organizational culture of the companies we wish to be a part of. Isn’t it pretty basic? Although understanding the organizational culture is very much the first step of joining an organization, it becomes more important especially in the setting we are less familiar with. One size does not fit all.

In my past experience, although I understood that certain values and ethics are strong in Korean companies, I was recommended by my past supervisors to also understand the organizations from their cultures. Internship experience of the author in an International Organization based in South KoreaFor example, in Korean culture, Nunchi (Korean concept signifying the subtle art and ability to listen and gauge others’ moods) is considered important to ensure one’s success. However, depending on each of the organizations, practices of openness may also be valued more.

Be Open to Cultural Diversity and Their Differences

One of the ways to get to know colleagues is by learning about the cultures, being open to diversity, and appreciating the traditions of all cultures. Embracing diversity also means being open to more than one culture. We can also be proactive by making an effort to learn more about a particular culture and its characteristics.

For example, by starting to explore the important holiday, cuisine and characteristics of the people. Making extra efforts would be most helpful to also build interpersonal relationships and learn about the communication style.

The author and her former colleagues during her time working for an intergovernmental organizations

Consider and Learn Different Cultural Communication Styles

Each culture has its own communication style covering both verbal and non-verbal communication. To ensure cross-cultural communication styles, it is crucial to understand the great variety of communication styles across cultures and consider the styles.

For example, nonverbal communication that includes gestures, facial expressions, and body language can have meanings in different cultures. In Beyond Culture, Edward T. Hall introduced the phrases “high-context”, and “low-consent” and “multi-native cultures”.

Understanding different contexts and meanings can also help you to build good rapport, especially when dealing with colleagues from different cultural backgrounds. At the end of the day, work relation is as important as the work itself and communication is always the key to achieving success!

*All photos are provided by the Author
**Editor: Haryanto


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