Written intercultural communication problems also exist when businesses engage in global business operations and negotiation. The type of written document considered appropriate in one culture may not be considered appropriate in other cultures. Also, the formality needed in written documents may vary from culture to culture. Writing styles that are common in some cultures may be considered offensive in others. Content and style of written organizational communications are different among various cultures. In some cultures, direct approaches to messages are in use.
However, in other cultures, the main message is preceded by several polite sentences that have little or nothing to do with the prime purpose of the message and may be followed by several polite or complimentary sentences that also bear little or no relationship to the communication purpose (Nelda, Barron, 1997). Strong positions are taken in written messages in some cultures; while in other cultures, such strong statements are considered improper. Attitudes and intentions of the communicator may be left to implications in these cultures.
For instance, in Japan,most written communications are apologetic and include statements that put writers in lower positions. Japanese executives may view written documents received from US executives to be too bold, direct, and self-centered. On the other hand, Americans may perceive Japanese executives to be weak and without commitment to their positions (Nelda,Barron, 1997). When people using language during the negotiation , they must aware customs and practices that vary from culture to culture.
For example, the word “dear” has a special connotation in Spain, as the word is a term of endearment or a show of affection for a loved one or a family member. conversely, it is used extensively as a letter salutation in USA. Therefore, when American negotiator writing a business letter to the other party in Spain, the salutation of the letter should not contain the word “dear”. Kimberley (2003:177) suggested that nonverbal communication is an essential part of every message people send.
Nonverbal communication means the information that is communicated without using words. People can communicated without saying a word by their choice of clothing, their facial expressions or any number of other nonverbal signals. No matter the negotiation is taken between two nations or within one nation, non-verbal communication has significant effect on the goal achievement in negotiation. There are various types of non-verbal communication, such as body language, time and clothing.
Dealing with the language, which most international business people consider their only barrier to understanding, is actually only the beginning (Barna, 1972: 243). Non-verbal barriers to intercultural communication may create greater problems than language barriers. Various non-verbal cues carry different meanings in different cultures. When the individuals involved in the negotiation are of different cultures, there is likely to be some misinterpretations because of their chosen methods of communication.
This is more likely to be the case if they are unfamiliar with each other’s cultural backgrounds. Herbig(1997) suggests that Negotiator should be aware that, when two people communicate, they seldom talk about precisely the same subject, for effective meaning is flavored by each person’s own cognitive world and cultural conditioning. In some instances, conflict can occur where an individual has failed to recognize the boundaries that evolve from particular cultural characteristics. Take an example of negotiating in China.
Chinese people often use body language that can be incomprehensible to unfamiliar Westerners, and some Western body language can be misunderstood. In China, laughing or smiling among people can be confusing and means different things according to the situation. When they felt nerves or embarrassed, Chinese people will smile or laugh nervously and cover their mouths with their hands. Pointing at someone with the forefinger is an accusatory motion and is considered rude or hostile – Currier(2001) suggests that body language is basic building blocks of cooperation and negotiation.
People are careful never to act in a way or that could be interpreted as an insult. Therefore, if the western negotiator misunderstand Chinese nonverbal message, they might feel confuse with the circumstance and the message has become ambiguity which probably might affect their decision. Also, when they use inappropriate body language, it may imply a meaning of disrespect and due to other party’s antipathy. Nevertheless, negotiators can be conveying confidence by using body language if they uses appropriately.
Axtell (1991:28) states that body language is as effective as or more effective than words. For instance, toward to the sexual difference aspect , men stand with their feet apart, expanding their space, or lean forward in their chairs-behaviors which are interpreted as aggressive. Women stand with their feet close together and one toe pointed inward, denoting submissiveness. Thus, to level the negotiating field, a woman should expand her space by standing to speak or using the arms of a chair and sitting erect when speaking.
Time is important factor should be concerned during the negotiation process. Kimberley (2003:155) states that time are one type of nonverbal communication. People perceive time differs greatly from culture to culture. In the USA, time is a costly item that is not to be wasted. Time is scheduled carefully and holding to a time schedule is a virtue. Completing tasks ahead of schedule is usually something for which one should be proud. Americans do not like to wait and usually become irritated when someone is late for an appointment (Nelda, Baron, 1997).
Therefore, when people negotiating with Americans, they should attend the meeting or appointment on time. In addition, Americans usually like to get down to business quickly in a meeting. People from other cultures, such as Japan, may be offended if a prolonged social discourse is not held prior to either party’s mentioning the impending business. Even then, the discussion probably will proceed at a much slower pace than US business people are accustomed (Nelda, Baron, 1997).
Lastly, Kimberly (2003:190) states that clothing gives a strong and immediate impression of its wearer, it is extremely importantly to nonverbal communication. Clothing develops a message, and by choosing particular clothing, the wearer commits himself or herself to the statements the clothing makes. It is no doubt that the dress of negotiators are implied a message to other party, such as if they are giving respect to the party they negotiated with. For instance, Thai business and government executives dress very formal.
They perceive that the better dressed one is, the more successful one is. For business functions, farang men should wear lightweight suits with white shirts and ties. Slacks and jackets are not as acceptable. Farang women should not wear black dresses, however, for Thais reserve this color for funerals or mourning. However, black is acceptable to wear at formal events if it is accented with other colors. Consequently, when people are engage in negotiating with Thai people, they must dress appropriate in order to respect them and avoid embarrassed.