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Language is one of the factors that complicate the communication process in international business. Language is a socially developed element of communication, which implies that individuals in different parts of the world are bound to have different languages. One of the requirements for success in international business is the ability to communication with people from different parts of the world, and this might call for the business persons to learn their counterpart’s languages.
However, in some cases, it gets difficult to communicate because the associated parties have no common language through which they can transact. In such cases, the main option is to find a translator to provide a bridge between the parties that need to communicate (Bano, Zowghi, & Sarkissian, 2016). However, the translation process is not always an effective way of enhancing communication between parties facing language barriers because the translator does not always capture the intended message from one party to the other.
Language plays a multifaceted role in international business. Not only does it facilitate the delivery of information from one party to the other, but is also enables the development of the business syntax to be used by different parties. If there is no common language between business parties, they are bound to fail in the delivery of terms of business, and this could result in the development of conflicts because misunderstandings are bound to occur (Bano, Zowghi, & Sarkissian, 2016).
It is apparent that language barriers may also result in contradictory statements being delivered by parties trying to use their counterpart’s language, and this would epitomize conflicts as the partners engage in business processes.
The most arduous factor that hinders effective communication in international business is cultural distance. The concept of globalization has seen many companies developing international ventures that require the establishment of business entities in various host nations. One of the emerging issues that hinder communication after venturing into other countries is the inability of expatriates to meet the cultural expectations of the host’s society (Bano, Zowghi, & Sarkissian, 2016).
Cultural elements of communication are quite important whenever a company is looking to harness market share from a host nation. Some of the elements of culture that must be keenly observed include the preferred mode of delivery of information, and the non-verbal communication cues that need to be understood by both parties.
The preferred mode of communication differs from one society to the other. While business communication in one country might require verbal delivery of information and verbal contracts, others might have a higher preference to written documents and contracts. Additionally, some societies have developed higher preference to non-verbal communication (Bano, Zowghi, & Sarkissian, 2016). For instance, when negotiating with the Chinese, it is common for the members of the Chinese team to go silent for a while, and this is an indication that they might be waiting for their counterparts to give them a better deal.
If a business entity is not acquainted with the meaning of silence on the part of the Chinese negotiators, there would be problems in meeting the requirements of their partners. This reveals that culture is one of the main barriers to effective communication in international business, and it also highlights the need for business entities to be actively involved in investigating the cultural requirements of the societies in the nations in which they plan to do business.
Solutions to Miscommunication
The language barrier can be easily eliminated by learning the language used by business partners. This facilitates a more effective communication process when using verbal or print platforms. Each party should be compelled to learn an international language such as English, which is used by business entities in international communication to facilitate an easier process in conducting business. It might also be helpful to get a translator during business meetings.
Translators facilitate a two-way flow of information; thus, eliminating the barriers that exist between the two parties (Bano, Zowghi, & Sarkissian, 2016). However, translators might not always be reliable options because they might misinterpret the sentiments of one party; hence, creating contradictions in the business process. Technology has also provided the option of using electronic translators of language, and they can be applicable where they support both languages in use.
Cultural competence training is a solution to the cultural barriers that make communication difficult between business entities and their partners and target customers in different host nations. Companies should be compelled to facilitate training and development programs to expatriates to ensure that they are acquainted with the necessary knowledge and skills in communicating with the people in the host nations (Lancaster, 2016).
It would also be helpful for the companies to enhance diversity in their workplaces within the host nations so that employees with similar backgrounds to various customers can facilitate effective communication processes. For instance, having a Chinese employee in an organizational branch in China would be a strategic move toward helping other employees to learn about the cultural requirements in communication of the target market.
A different strategy to eliminate communication barriers would be leveraging technology to conduct international business. For instance, venturing in to e-commerce would facilitate the development of online stores that are available in various languages for users across the world. This implies that customers from different parts of the world would have access to the commodities offered by a company, and be able to access information about them in their respective languages (Von Ins, 2017).
Additionally, negotiations with partners from different nations would also be facilitated by electronic translators within the remote communication platforms. When using technology, there is neutrality in culture because the partners are not in physical contact with each other; hence, communication would be purely based on text.
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Experts have valid opinions with reference to the elimination of communication barriers. It is apparent that learning second and third languages is a major requirement for business persons in today’s world, especially if they are operating in different parts of the world. It is quite impressive that technology has facilitated various avenues to eliminate communication barriers. Online business is a viable strategy to eliminate the need to develop physical locations in different parts of the world, and it also eliminates the need for companies to invest in learning the cultural requirements of the target consumers because communication is mainly through text.
The contemporary business world will continue facing challenges in communication, especially as companies venture into business processes in different countries. There will be a need for companies to learn about the cultural requirements of societies in the nations that they target for their business processes to ensure that communication is within the effective range dictated by the consumers.
Bano, M., Zowghi, D., & Sarkissian, N. (2016). Empirical study of communication structures and barriers in geographically distributed teams. IET Software, 10(5), 147-153.
Lancaster, A. (2016). Beating language barriers. Restaurant Business, 115(12), 22.
Von Ins, C. (2017). Jumping Language Barriers. TD: Talent Development, 71(6), 10.