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How to Improve Your Startup’s Cross-Cultural Communication

two people sitting on desk talking


In today’s interconnected world, understanding cross-cultural communication has become increasingly pertinent, particularly if you are operating within a global market. Improved technology, remote working, and video conferencing has made it more convenient than ever to connect with other teams and businesses regardless of their geographical location. This shift toward digital collaboration means that it has never been more vital to adapt your communication processes in response to a growing cross-cultural business landscape.  

What is Cross Cultural Communication?

For your communicational process to be a success, you must consider what ‘effective communication’ means and the ways in which cultural factors influence how people interact with one another. So, what exactly is ‘cross-cultural communication?’. According to Northeastern University, cross-cultural communication is the process of recognising the differences and similarities that exist among cultural groups to effectively communicate within a variety of contexts. This relates to the communication between people of different ages, nationalities, ethnicities, genders, races, and sexual orientation. The difficulty is in actively considering and adjusting how we exchange information in order to maximise the communication process.

How Can I Improve Cross Cultural Communication?

According to the Harvard Business Review, developing effective cross-cultural communication skills has a significant impact on the productivity of your startup. In fact, an inclusive and culturally aware workplace will lead to dramatic benefits for founders, their team members, and their clients, with increased creative output and secure, lasting relationships. Getting to a place of effective cross-cultural awareness, however, requires consistent effort, motivation, and adjustment on behalf of you and your team. At Allied Legal, we have some steps you can take to improve your startup’s cross-cultural communication:

Start at the Top

As a founder you should have a basic understanding of how you can communicate effectively within a diverse, global context. This means considering the differences between high and low context cultures and how this may impact on an employee’s values, opinions, feelings, and thoughts. For example, most low context cultures like Western Europe or North America tend to conduct business based on facts, whereas high context cultures like many operating in the Middle East or Asia value the formation of interpersonal relationships. Understanding these differentials will improve your startup’s efficiency across your network.

Promote Opportunities for Learning

As a founder, you should provide your team with new opportunities to expand their knowledge and understanding of culture. Training programs informed by accurate data and research are important ways to increase your team’s cross-cultural communication strategies. Using valuable resources and informative sources can foster open discussion and learning. Learning about diverse greeting etiquettes, religious or cultural holidays, and even recognising different time zones are important considerations for your communication strategy.

Facilitate Internal Communication

A lack of opportunity for communication or socialisation can stagnate any workplace. In terms of cross-cultural communication, a disparate team will have significant impacts on your startup’s overall environment and workplace culture. Creating a comfortable space for your team to openly share their thoughts, ideas, and feedback will prevent conflict and help to build strong relationships within your startup.

Audit Your Internal Communications

As a founder you should continuously review your startup’s mission and company values. By doing an audit you can assess whether your company values are inclusive and whether your team’s various cultures have been considered. Performing this analysis will assist in the assessment of your current startup culture and will help you to determine how you can improve your startup’s overall communication strategy.

Need Help? Contact Us

Understanding the importance of cross-cultural communication is vital to the success of any startup. At Allied Legal, we consult with clients from across Australia and all over the world, so we understand the importance of effective communication. To learn more about how we assist startups, you can connect with us on 03 8691 3111 or send us an email at hello@alliedlegal.com.au.

You might also like our article Hiring the Right Cultural Fit for Your Startup.

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