Cultural diversity refers to the diverse varieties of human cultures that exist in a certain region, society or in the world as a whole. The characteristics of diversity may include ethnicity, traditions, geographic background, language spoken, religious beliefs, race or physical features. This term is also based on the idea that different cultures should respect each other’s differences. With the global integration, the need for communication in accordance with other person’s cultural awareness has intensified. Many times, any gesture that is considered offensive in one culture is completely accepted in the other culture. Hence, people sometimes develop misunderstandings when communicating with someone from a different culture. Therefore, it is essential that differences are appreciated for an effective communication.
I am a Christian man who is originally from Ukraine. My mother tongue is Ukrainian and I came to United States some 10 years ago. I am very moderate in my religious orientations but have a conservative viewpoint regarding many things. The values that I brought with me have an effect on almost every aspect of my everyday life. My cultural values come from the age of my parents. These values affect the way I communicate with others. My most important value is to respect people from different backgrounds and then in return demand respect from them. For example, when I was working for (xyz), I had always been modest while communicating with the employees including the young employees that helped a lot in creating trust between us.
Communication is also affected by the different ways in which man and woman express themselves. Each gender has a different communication pattern. Mostly men save their words for factual statements or to avoid the details and utilize their words to demonstrate their authority. Women, on the other hand are driven towards discussing the details and voicing their random thoughts. (Rosener, 2001) So, these gender differences present problems in interpersonal interaction where each one mistakenly supposes that the other person thinks and acts in a same way as he does.
But with the advent of technology, people can easily communicate with each other but technology is a poor substitute for human presence. To understand different cultures, it is important to understand the hidden cultural differences and non-verbal cues but technology not only limits the personal interaction but also makes it impossible to understand the true meaning of the messages sent. Technology has an impact on the interpersonal communication between men and women as relying on texting and chatting has reduced the . Moreover, it is also important to understand the reaction or expressions of the other person so communicating through technology can result into misunderstandings.
Internet and mobile phones have brought revolutionary changes in the ways individuals communicate with each other. With the arrival of internet, the world has become globally integrated and people can now communicate quickly and easily. The use of mobile phone has also made it convenient for the people to keep in constant contact with each other.
There are many barriers to bridging differences between people from different cultures. One of the barriers is the linguistic problems. This problem arises when people have to speak a language which is not their mother tongue. Secondly, another barrier is the personal bias i.e. To stereotype someone in a rigid category or consider him inferior on the basis of his different cultural values. The third barrier results from an attitude of ethnocentrism and the limited tolerance in understanding the cultural differences.
Overcoming them involves avoiding the personal biases, acknowledging the different cultures and treating the person from a different background respectfully. The more one gives chance to understand the other person, the more it becomes easy to reconcile the differences. Moreover, we also need to find a common ground where everyone can communicate and learn to express themselves clearly and confidently.
There are many advantages and disadvantages of working in a multicultural team. The first advantage is that it brings people together from diverse range of backgrounds bringing forth different ideas and experiences. The second advantage is that the diverse range of perspectives can increase the creativity. For example, if an organization faces some problem then different perspectives can result in innovative ideas. The third advantage is that team members can learn from different approaches to the same problem. There is also quick access to the required information through the of the other team members.
The first disadvantage is that in a multicultural team, it is often difficult for team members to trust one another. This mistrust is substantiated by the creation of in and out groups within a team. The second disadvantage is that team members belonging to same background communicate with each other more frequently than the members from different cultures. This low level of interaction leads to suspicions. The third disadvantage is that sometimes members from different backgrounds negate each other’s ideas. This lack of cohesion creates difficulty in managing the team.
Ethical values are challenged when people from different backgrounds in an organization have different values. Managers need to make sure that the organization does not deviate from its values and at the same time makes ethical decisions that respect diversity. For example, one of my previous jobs in (xyz) required the workers to stay at their assigned places and take break only during lunch time. Once I was really concerned when I noticed that one fellow worker went outside for around 20 minutes. I later got to know that he went out to observe his religious practice and such act was accommodated by the managers. Hence, diversity effects ethical decisions when an organization wants to satisfy its employees for its smooth working.
Ethics are usually derived from “doing what’s right.” But in different cultures, principles of right and wrong are different. (Newsom, Turk, and Kruckeberg, 2004) This tendency of ethics to be for communication between individuals. Sometimes, our own biases derived from our ethics influence how we define what’s right during our communication. For example, Ukrainians does not need much personal space than Americans during the conversation. But while working in an organization, it is important to follow organization ethics to encourage socially responsible conduct. Similarly, different ethics of man and woman impact their conversation. While men feel comfortable communicating on internet or mobile phone, women feel more morally responsible for their actions and try to keep their space during the communication.
Newsom, D., Turk, J.V., and Kruckeberg, D. (2004). This is PR: The Realities of Public Relations. Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth.
Rosener, J.B. (1990) “Ways Women Lead,” Harvard Business Review, Vol. 68, No. 6, pp. 119-25