Cultural Differences and Misinterpretations Which Lead to Communication Barriers

Some of the cultural differences and misinterpretations which lead to communication barriers are identified by the human resource professionals while engaging with the immigrant employees are listed below.

 Status and Roles: Social hierarchy exists in some countries and this may lead to “bumps” in the communication process especially in the workplace. In some countries, women are considered less superior than males. A woman with a high position in the managerial hierarchy may experience communication blockages while relating to a man from a different culture. The result may be a communication gap because of the difficulty in adapting to the situation.

 Personal Space: It relates to the level of comfort zone while speaking to others face to face. Generally, in some countries like England, people are comfortable conversing while standing at a distance of five feet from each other while in some other countries like Germany and Japan, they rather prefer more distance.  Arabs and Latinos, on the other hand, usually prefer to get closer.

 Body Language: The physical gestures, which are the part of body language, can be interpreted in different countries. The people in some countries express “no” by shaking their heads while in some countries, they express that by raising their chin.

Religion:  People are largely influenced by the religion with respect to their life style.  For instance, usage of some words may be considered a sin in some religions while it is used freely in some other countries where there is no sin attached in usage of such word.

Personal Appearance: The personal appearance of the people varies with different countries. It has been suggested that the attire of people in the organisation should be made uniform to mitigate these differences.

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