Cultural Barriers to Communication

Cultural barriers to communication are differences between cultures that prevent or obstruct effective communication such as spoken language, accepted behaviour, hand signals, religion and dialect. Hand signals can be a communication barrier as they can mean different things within different cultures.

For example, the OK sign created by connecting your thumb and forefinger together in the shape of an O is highly offensive in Brazil. In the UK and America this hand signal means ok, however, in Brazil it is the same as sticking your middle finger up at someone in the UK. Therefore you can see how this could get you into a lot of trouble. To overcome this communication barrier a business could train their staff to do some research into the culture of the country they are going to be visiting before going. This way they would already know what and what not to do in that country. Therefore they would avoid any mistakes or confrontation and establish effective and clear communication.

Another cultural communication barrier could be spoken language. For example, if a representative of Dell was visiting a foreign country it is likely that they are going to speak a different language to the people in the country that they are visiting. If the representative cannot speak the native language he will be incapable of communicating with the people he is going to see. To overcome this communication barrier he could bring a translator with him on the journey who spoke both the native language and his language. He could also learn how to speak the native language before he set off. This way it would ensure that the representative and the locals could communicate effectively and understand exactly what was being said.

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