Have you been in a situation where you sent a very friendly email where the receiver seemed to have read something completely different and perceived it as a criticism? Or when you thought you were being polite and professional during an interview and still failed to secure the project? This post aims to give you a brief idea of what you could have missed.
When it comes to communication, it is most often the case that we think about the traditional model from Shannon & Weaver (1949) where the focus was on the linear approach of one individual transmitting a coded message over a specific channel and another individual, who in turn decoded the message and provided feedback (see fig. 1).
According to this approach, problems in communication arise in the following cases:
However, communication between individuals can be ineffective and fail even if there was no noise in the channel and the code is shared between two individuals with the same language and skill level. So, what is missing in this approach?
Research in cross cultural communication has shed light on this topic and has brought other aspects of communication to our attention that were not considered in the linear model in 1949. The research has led to a revised model that focuses on how complex the sender and receiver codes are and how cultural aspects and mindsets influence and determine what we share and understand.
Problems that the research identified:
These identified problems make each communicative interaction much more complex than a simple transmission of ideas and a feedback confirmation that the message was “received correctly”. This also implies that we need to shift our attention away from channel quality and towards acknowledging the mindset of both the sender and the receiver. The cross cultural communication model by Browaeys and Price (2011) captures this complexity, incorporating further dimensions and differentiating the intended message from the received message (see fig. 2).
In summary, as individuals become more diverse and exposed to different mindsets (which can vary from profession, age, nationality, etc.), communication also becomes more complex. In order to achieve effective communication your approach needs to adjust accordingly.
The Webinar, Up Skilling with Tamara: Communication Failures, will outline a roadmap that will help you navigate complex cross-cultural communication situations. The interactive session will allow you to collaboratively work through difficult scenarios you have experienced. You will walk away from the session holding the tips and strategies you require to engage in effective communication.
Browaeys & Price ( 2011) Understanding Cross-Cultural Management, United Kingdom, Pearson.
Geiger, I. (2015). Strategies of Business Relationship Management. En M. Kleinaltenkamp, W. Plinke, & I. Geiger, Business Relationship Management and Marketing (págs. 153-192) Berlin Heidelberg, Springer-Verlag.
SHANNON, C. E. & WEAVER, W. (1949) The mathematical theory of communication, Urbana, University of Illinois Press.