Cultural Nuance and Effective Collaboration for Multicultural Teams

Wednesday, June 06, 2018 - 4:50 pm5:15 pm

Ayyappadas Ravindran, LinkedIn


What is considered "good-communication" is different for different cultures. In some cultures "good communication" is being as explicit as possible, and the responsibility of conveying the message is on the person communicating. In other cultures, "good communication" is more implicit and the responsibility of understanding the message falls on the the person receiving it.

When I started working with Americans, I often heard in meetings “What do you mean?”. In India, this is considered rude, as the question is perceived as a challenge to what was said. However, the person is really just looking for more information. It would have been better if the person said, "I didn’t quite understand". In America, the former question is considered “good communication” because the person was being direct and explicit, but in India, this question would have been perceived as rude.

Americans are also taught to give negative feedback in a positive frame. In European countries, good feedback is direct feedback. In a situation where an American manager may be giving negative feedback to a European employee, there is a high probability that the employee won't understand the feedback since they are used to receiving direct feedback. This may leave the manager wondering why the employee has not improved even after they received the feedback.

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Presentation Audio

@conference {214929,
author = {Ayyappadas Ravindran},
title = {Cultural Nuance and Effective Collaboration for Multicultural Teams},
year = {2018},
publisher = {{USENIX} Association},