Tactics Tuesday - Cross Cultural Change Communication Styles

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Transcript - Cross Cultural Change Communication Styles

Welcome to Tactics Tuesday. This week’s question, “How to adapt your behavior without changing your communuication style?” Now, to answer that question, we're going to take a leaf out of Molinsky's book, Global Dexterity. And he talks about the challenges we experience as we do begin changing our communication styles as we work cross culturally. One thing he starts us with is being an actor. When you are an actor, you can actually go into that character, and then step out of that character and be yourself again.

Changing our communication styles cross culturally means we have take on part of their character, and become actually somebody new. So we're going to go through today, and look at the challenges that experience, and he talks about psychological challenges. Now, the first challenge he talks about is the authenticity challenge. This is where the communication style that you’re about to enact is totally in conflict with your values. And so you feel like you're doing something wrong, and that it's not okay to do that behavior.

And often what we do is we feel kind of a bit guilty, you know, a bit shameful about having to enact that behavior. The second challenge he talks about is the competency challenge. So this is where we think, “Oh, I don't have the skills.” So let's go back to acting, and this is where, as we begin to think about the competency challenge, we have to think about those skills and acting them. We will, a lot of the time, kind of awful and a little embarrassed. We haven't quite got it right, changing our communication style. And so that becomes a challenge for us to actually even enact that behavior.

The third challenge he talks about is the resentment challenge. “Why should I have to accommodate the communication style? Why should I have to change?” Well, we all know where that attitude gets us. Not very far at all. So we do have to overcome it. And I think for yourself you need to take control. You can have a negative experience. You can be the prisoner to cultural difference, but why not change that and craft your own way of, actually, making it into a great experience.

So how do we overcome these challenges? Now, the first thing is to understand the expected cultural code. It doesn't matter where we are, there's always a particular code that's expected with a network place, within that organization. And, of course, you've got cultural on top of that. Things as we think about what is the expectations think about how direct you are expected to be. How assertive, how self promoting you need to be. How formal, or even how enthusiastic the expectations are.

That will give you an idea of kind of putting a little framework around that cultural code. Secondly, adjust how you interpret the new behavior. You now have to start looking at that behavior through that cultures logic. So, as we say, step into the other person's shoes, and try to understand it from their way, and interpret it with that in mind.

Finally, make small, personally meaningful adjustments. Don't try and do it all at once. It doesn't work. But think about small adjustments you can make in adapting your behavior that will have a real meaningful impact on that situation. Well, that's it for this Tuesday. What I'd like you to do until next time is to think about how what your expectations are, how you act, but also how you respond to somebody else.

Related resource : 10 Tips for Communicating Change to Employees

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About Lorri:

Lorri Lennon is an award-winning advisor, trainer and author in leadership communication. She has 20 years’ experience managing communications for large global organisations.

Lorri conducts master classes to help participants maximise their communications ROI.

About Mariska:

Mariska Mannes is an experienced communication consultant. She holds a Master of Management majoring in Communication, which allows her to bring a blend of qualification and practical experiences to her training programmes. Her expertise is in business and cross cultural communication and behaviour. For more information visit Mariska's LinkedIn profile.