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A Culturally Diverse Team: The Most Significant Issues Essay

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Updated: Feb 21st, 2022

Cultural Diversity and Communication

Diversity is broadly recognized as a factor that can dramatically enhance the team’s operations, improving the project in numerous ways. However, it can also create difficulties that harm the entire process, mostly where communication is concerned. The most significant issue is the language barrier (if one is present), as it can lead to misunderstandings that are challenging to recognize and prevent. Even in the case that the team speaks the same language but with different accents, understanding each other can be problematic. Another problem is cultural preferences for communication styles, as some ethnicities prefer direct communication while others favor indirect signals. People who opt for the former can miss or misinterpret cues from those who use the latter, once again leading to misconceptions and errors. These issues would only surface later, once they lead to a conflict or cause other varieties of damage.

To overcome cultural barriers, it is essential to be aware of their existence and causes, which can then be eliminated for improved communication. Language-related miscommunication typically takes place when idioms that the speaker does not recognize as endemic to their region are used, with others either misinterpreting them or not understanding but choosing not to ask. As such, the use of simplified language that avoids potentially obscure phrases can contribute substantially to improving communication. For indirect contact, the team would benefit from studying each other’s cultures and habits to correctly interpret their signs. Failing that, they may seek more explicit signs from team members, possibly overtly asking them for confirmation or opinions. With that said, this approach may make some team members uncomfortable, and thus, promoting cross-cultural awareness should generally be considered the first and foremost option.

Cross-Cultural Communication

Culturally diverse teams can run into a variety of challenges, many of which are related to communications. The most apparent concern is the language barrier, with people speaking different languages or different versions of the same one struggling to understand each other. Moreover, these misunderstandings may not always be apparent, especially in the case of more subtle phrases. To avoid this problem, it is generally best to ask the team to use simplified versions of the common language, avoiding obscure words and idioms. This measure should not impede communications significantly while reducing the number of problems that arise.

Attitudes toward conflict are another cultural factor that can lead to issues if not considered. Some cultures promote engaging in overt confrontations or are open to doing so if they see it as necessary, while others prefer to settle differences privately. If a member of the former culture attempts their standard approach with someone who comes from the latter, the outcome is unlikely to be productive. Being open to learning about others’ cultures and understanding how they manage conflict is a useful method of mitigating the problem.

The final issue discussed, though there are many others, involves the matters that are not communicated. Some cultures use gestures and context to relate unsaid information, which non-members may struggle to understand. Others have passive expectations that they take for granted regarding matters such as the decision-making authority. As a result, the manager may find the team disunited or critical steps not made once the time to take action comes. Once again, this problem has to be resolved through learning about each team member and their preferences on relevant matters. Personal study is critical because a culture does not define a person, and while learning about it is important, it is more pertinent to understand the individual.

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IvyPanda. "A Culturally Diverse Team: The Most Significant Issues." February 21, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/a-culturally-diverse-team/.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "A Culturally Diverse Team: The Most Significant Issues." February 21, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/a-culturally-diverse-team/.

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IvyPanda. (2022) 'A Culturally Diverse Team: The Most Significant Issues'. 21 February.

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