The relevance of cross-cultural communication and etiquette. The key to success in a global society.

In global communication, it is essential to understand and respect each other's culture, customs, and religion. To achieve this, learning the etiquette and protocol of showing consideration for each other with prescribed behaviour is an essential skill to further strengthen mutual relationships and build strong, secure trust.

Intercultural communication and etiquette are essential for success in a global society, enabling individuals and organisations to navigate the complexities of interacting with people from different cultures. Understanding cultural differences in communication styles, social norms and business practices can help avoid misunderstandings and build stronger relationships. In addition, knowing and respecting cultural etiquette can help build trust and respect, which are key to successful interactions with people from different cultures. In a globalised world where people, goods and ideas are constantly flowing across borders, the ability to communicate and interact effectively with people from different cultures is increasingly important for personal and professional success.

This section explains what intercultural understanding is and why these intercultural communication skills are useful.

What is intercultural communication?

Intercultural communication is an international communication technique that facilitates interaction and builds relationships by adapting to the characteristics of the other country.

In global communication, it is essential to understand and respect each other’s culture, customs and religion. To achieve this, learning the etiquette and protocol of showing consideration for each other with prescribed behaviour is an essential skill to further strengthen mutual relationships and build strong, secure trust.

However, many people suffer from a failure to facilitate cross-cultural communication, causing serious issues, being haphazard and assuming they can just ‘get by’ without really recognising the significance of the issue. However, learning this skill well in advance can save you a lot of time and effort and gain your trust, which is always an advantage to develop.

People from all countries behave as if ‘their common sense is the common sense of the world’. However, as countries change and each side imposes its standards on the other, conflicts are bound to arise. Also, no matter how considerate you are, it may be disrespectful to the other person due to cultural differences.

For example, when giving a gift, in Japan it is preferable to choose something relatively simple and appropriate for the season rather than something expensive, but in China, depending on the price, giving something affordable can be rude since it implies the value of the recipient. Therefore, it is essential to learn what to present, how to wrap it, the colours, what is impolite to give, how to deliver it, the background to it and the skills to apply.

In any culture, it is necessary to express oneself ‘correctly’ in the international community. It is essential to understand the characteristics and ways of thinking of the other country, as well as your own, before communicating with them. A solid theoretical understanding of this is therefore essential.

What are the benefits of acquiring intercultural communication knowledge and skills?

Acquiring knowledge and skills in intercultural communication can bring many benefits, including

  • Improved relationships: Understanding cultural differences in communication styles, social norms and business practices can help prevent misunderstandings and build stronger relationships with people from different cultures.
  • Increased understanding and empathy: By learning about different cultures and how they communicate, you can develop a deeper understanding and empathy for people from those cultures.
  • Enhanced career opportunities: In a globalised world, the ability to communicate effectively with people from different cultures can be a valuable asset in many fields, including business, education, healthcare and government.
  • Increased flexibility and adaptability: Intercultural communication skills can help you navigate unfamiliar situations and cultures more easily, making you more flexible and adaptable in a globalised world.
  • Improved problem solving: Understanding different perspectives and ways of thinking can help you solve problems more effectively, especially when working with people from different cultures.
  • Increased cultural intelligence: Understanding and navigating cultural differences is key to success in a globalised world.
  • Greater personal growth: Learning about other cultures can help you broaden your horizons and learn more about yourself.

As an example, let’s compare the Netherlands with Japan.

My friend Toshi once said that when his Dutch friends came to Japan, he invited them to dinner. He was offended when they asked him at the last minute if they could bring another person.

He invited his friends to dinner with the intention of treating them to a meal, so he felt it was rude of his friends to bring more people at the last minute. On the other hand, as a Dutchman, he did not understand why he was offended, as he had intended to share the cost of the meal and wanted to introduce his friends if there was room, and it was a suggestion that he did not intend to offend.

At the time, Toshi did not express any feelings about it and simply accepted it, but he felt uncomfortable all the time, and his Dutch friend, who also felt this, felt uncomfortable because he did not understand what was going on.

The problem was simple.

Firstly, his Dutch friend needed to know that in Japan, being invited to dinner means that you might be treated to a meal, so if he wanted to take someone with him, he needed to politely ask why he was taking them, whether it would be a nuisance, etc., and that he intended to pay for the meal himself. He had to know that he would have to pay for it himself and politely ask why he was taking him and whether it would be a nuisance.

On the contrary, if Toshi was unhappy about it, he should have expressed it calmly at the time of the call, and to express his dissatisfaction only in an attitude and not say anything was disrespectful to the Dutch, for whom open communication is a way of speaking.

Although the matter was eventually resolved because they were friends, what would have happened if it had been a business meeting or a first meeting? I am certain that they would have mutually decided not to see each other again.

Simple problems like this eventually develop into major issues.

Cross-cultural communication skills are a valuable lesson not only in business but also in personal life.

In an increasingly globalised world, an understanding of international etiquette and intercultural communication is essential.

Etiquette is a way of respecting other cultures and understanding different cultural norms. By following international etiquette, people can communicate better with people from different cultures, which can be beneficial in both personal and professional settings.

In intercultural communication, international etiquette helps to create a positive environment.

It promotes mutual respect between people from different backgrounds, encourages open dialogue and provides opportunities for individuals to learn from each other. Etiquette also plays an important role in preventing potential misunderstandings caused by language barriers and lack of knowledge about customs and cultural values.

Therefore, in global communications, an emphasis on international etiquette, rather than just the technicalities, and a constant awareness of it when interacting with people from other cultures can help transform difficult cultural relationships into smooth ones.

Significance of learning etiquette and cross-cultural communication in Japan.

For those familiar with contemporary Japan, some may question the importance of learning cross-cultural understanding from Japan, let alone politeness.

I will write more about this in my next article, but the fact is that Japan was originally a country that was adept at intercultural communication. There are many more essential tips for intercultural communication hidden in traditional Japanese culture.

Japan has embraced other countries and blended them well with Japanese culture, and still values its new culture today.

Japanese courtesy consists of customs and mindsets that are essential to international communication, such as understanding and accepting others, valuing harmony, reading other people’s feelings, and being attentive.

It is therefore very beneficial to learn both Japanese and international etiquette to gain a better understanding of them.

Etiquette is not just about learning how to do things, but is a magnificent study in which you can change your behaviour and thinking from various aspects, thus making communication with others smoother and enriching yourself.

International Standard Of Behaviour And Thinking And Deep Intercultural Understanding

Global Business Etiquette And Intercultural Protocol Programme

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