Speech at “Infusion” multicultural business networking – 18 February 2009

Sandra Lie introducing Rebecca Wells

Sandra Lie introducing Rebecca Wells

When working with people from different cultures you will invariably come across some differences in how they communicate. I firmly believe that the most effective people are those who can adapt to their changing circumstances and be flexible enough to adjust their communication styles to suit their counterparts.

But what does that really mean? To be an effective communicator means building rapport with the person you are communicating with. So you need to look out for how they express themselves: are they loud or vocal? Do they gesture a lot? Perhaps they avoid making direct eye contact? Or maybe they enjoy a wide area of personal space.

When adding in a dimension of culture, it complicates communication further. Some nationalities are naturally very expressive, possibly opinionated and may be perceived as ‘brash’ or ‘arrogant’, whilst people from other cultures can be more subtle in how they put forward their ideas, gesture very little and spend far more time listening than they do talking.  The former may misread this style as lacking confidence, passion or interest in the topic under discussion.

On Wednesday I spoke about this subject at “Infusion“, a fantastic business networking group in Sydney organised by Sandra Lie and sponsored by Zaabiz.

Its membership is comprised of business owners, leaders and individuals from multicultural backgrounds. Some are looking to do business overseas whilst others have cross-cultural leadership or team challenges that they regularly face. Michael Brecht, who runs Zaabiz (the sponsor of “Infusion”) posted an interesting blog entry himself on the event.

Rebecca Wells, Sandra Lie, Michael Brecht

Rebecca Wells, Sandra Lie, Michael Brecht

Visit our website to read more about the event or to view other articles I have written on the subject of effective cross-cultural communication.

RW

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