Bridge Communication Gaps in 4 ways

I was talking with a director of a large International non-profit organization a few days ago. He said, “Some of the biggest challenges I see with effective communication are cultural.”

He mentioned that there is a director from India who speaks in a very direct and passionate manner. Communication seems to get “lost” because many people on the receiving end can’t get past the tone and visual picture or body language of the man. My friend wished that people could get past all the “externals” and just focus on the words.

This is a classic case of how “cultural” differences clearly interfere with the message and the “connection” between the sender and receiver. The Indian gentleman most likely has no idea of how he is coming across to the audience who is not used to this direct, forceful way of communicating. It is normal in his culture; it doesn’t make him a rude or aggressive man.

Most people can’t see past this, as they are unaware of how “culture” affects communication. If we want to be great communicators, we need to be aware of the role that a person’s “culture” is playing. Are we being fair or unbiased in our judgment of this person? What can we do differently to bridge these “culture gaps”?

One answer is lived out by The Daily Show host, Trevor Noah. In his book, Born a Crime, he talks about how his mastery of so many languages in his native South Africa, tore down many walls. His bridging the gaps through language and sensitivity to those around him made him welcome anywhere. This was despite the incredible racial tension and divides existing in “apartheid” South Africa.

There are three other areas that we should be aware of in order to build bridges and connect with people from anywhere: gender, generation and personality type.

Stay tuned for my next article in this series on “bridging the communication gaps”.

If you know of anyone that could benefit from more effective communication in their multi-cultural work environment, please share this article, and encourage them to connect with me.

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