Steps towards effective Intercultural Communication

Steps toward effective intercultural communication include selective transmission and careful decoding of a message.

How Selective Transmission affects the Communication Channel?
The type of communication medium chosen for a given message depends on the nature of the message, the context and expectations of the receiver, its level of importance, the timing involved, and the need for personal interaction, etc. The types of media include instant messaging (IM), reports, meetings, email, letters or memos, telephone calls, teleconferences, videoconferences, or face-to-face conversations. The secret is to find out how communication is transmitted in the local organisation—how much is downward versus upward or vertical versus horizontal, how the grapevine works, and so on.

It is best to use face-to-face interaction for relationship building or for other important transactions in case of intercultural communications because of the lack of familiarity between parties. Personal interactions give the manager the opportunity to get immediate verbal and visual feedback and to make rapid adjustments in the communication process.

Generally, international dealings are long-distance, which limits the opportunity for face-to-face communication. There are possibilities of establishing relationship through telephone calls or videoconferencing and through trusted contacts. Modern electronic media and social networks can be used to break down communication barriers by reducing waiting periods for information, clarifying issues, and allowing instant consultation, such as via Skype, for one-on-one or group video-chat.

Careful Decoding of Feedback
Timely and effective feedback channels can also be set up to assess a firm’s general communication about the progression of its business and its general management principles. The best means for getting accurate feedback is through face-to-face interaction, because this allows the manager to hear, see, and immediately sense how a message is being interpreted. When visual feedback on important issues is not possible or appropriate, it is a good idea to use several means of attaining feedback, in particular by employing third parties.

Decoding is the process of translating the received symbols into the interpreted message.
The main causes of incongruence are:
(1) The receiver misinterprets the message,
(2) The receiver encodes his or her return message incorrectly, or
(3) The sender misinterprets the feedback.

Two way communication is thus essential for important issues so that successive efforts can be made until an understanding has been achieved. Asking other colleagues to help interpret what is going on is often a good way to break a cycle of miscommunication.