Hello World? Are you there? The Importance of Communication in a Multicultural World

In today’s world with all of its innovations and advance technology, you can communicate virtually from anywhere.

Sometimes charm is not enough. Arriving with the proper introductions and support is essential to developing workplace rapport. This is especially critical if you do not fit the local people’s stereotype of the Foreign V.I.P.

If you are not, by way of example, “The Beautiful Italian”, but instead you are of a respectable age with charming features, your initial reception may be less enthusiastic than if you fit the hosts’ preconceived image.

Unfortunately, some corporations play to the “stereotypes” and if you are a member of a minority, racial or ethnic group, female or physically disabled, this might be to your detriment.

When a former president of an Oil Company in Saudi Arabia said, “This business of communicating has become as important as finding more oil,” he stated a belief held by many.

According to a study done by Watson Wyatt of 267 U.S. companies between 1998 and 2002, those that communicated most effectively provided a 26% return to shareholders and those with the least-effective communication provided a return of only 15%.

It was also concluded that those with the most effective communicative ability also had the less employee turnover.

Our local newspapers inadvertently record daily, companies who are constantly and consistently seeking new hire. Why is that?

Think about it! Whatever type of organization you work in, now or in the future, your success and your organization’s success hinges on the collaborative ability to communicate effectively.

As we gallop full speed ahead into the 21st century, the concept of a global economy rings sharper than ever before!

Technological advances in travel and telecommunications have provided the means for accelerated integration of the world market.

COMPETITION

Competition comes from every corner of the globe in today’s marketplace and is forcing many businesses to look at new ways of cutting costs while maintaining market share and high-quality levels.

I’ve also learnt that it is becoming more and more of an asset for an individual to become proficient in foreign languages. I need to brush up on my French. Lol!

Managers and Consultants schooled in the ways of multinational business and multicultural service organizations are critical to the expansion of international opportunities.

For example, if we were to glance at the job ads in any of the big city newspapers around the world, if you have international skills, many countries are in need of English-language teachers.

Business people have always been on the cutting edge of marketing the latest technological wonders, see my related article on the latest Blockchain Technology:   Virtual Currency, The Blockchain Innovative Technology and its Regulation, Smart Contracts and Digital Assets https://teneishajohnsondream.wordpress.com/2019/02/05/virtual-currency-the-blockchain-innovative-technology-and-its-regulation-smart-contracts-and-digital-assets/

This trend of internationalizing business and services has led to increasing numbers of people working in multicultural settings.

Business relationships are now being forced to overcome cultural differences as firms strive to maintain a competitive edge in the marketplace.

However, according to my studies this is not as easy as it sounds.

Working in a foreign country is, as the name implies, an alien experience.

This means language and, most importantly, understanding diverse values in the workplace or country you’re currently residing in, is extremely important.

Therefore, individuals should be cognizant of their methods of communications and note that what might be successful in one country’s operations can and will sometimes meet with failure when transplanted into another cultural setting.

Nevertheless, the basic communication process still remains the same.

The Communication Process

As we’ve all learnt as adolescents in school, it involves a sender or encoder who then sends a message using various channels or mediums (i.e. telephones, radios, televisions, computers, written memos, videotapes, electronic mails etc.)  to a receiver or decoder.

In this new age of advance technology, messages are communicated via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, Snapchat, through the media, integrated in our songs, music videos, etc.

We have become a very interactive world!

It has become regular news in today’s society to create products and methods which helps us to share and connect more and more with each other.  

Early Inventions and Patents

The Fax (Facsimile) Machine

The fax (facsimile) machine is considered one of the oldest inventions. It is even older than Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone. Patents for the first fax machine dates back nearly 150 years.


Giovanni Caselli

The first commercial fax system was invented and patented in the United States in 1863 by an Italian priest, Giovanni Caselli, who helped establish a fax line between Paris and Lyons for five years, 1865-1870. At the time, Giovanni was considered “some kind of a nut” with his scientific “junk” scattered all around his home. The Italian priest’s small home looked more like a mad scientist’s workshop than the residence of a man of the cloth.

Giovanni worked alongside Alexander Bain, who was an expert clockmaker, for seven long years from 1857-1864, refining and improving the fax machine and Bain’s clock-driven pendulum idea.

Finally, in 1863 Giovanni Caselli made major improvements to the fax design:

  • He installed a separate clock in the transmitting end that synchronized the pendulums on each perfectly.
  • His fax did not require the original to be scratched in metal or written in special ink. Ordinary ink worked.
  • Originals could be reproduced in the same size or reduced.
  • Different messages could simultaneously be transmitted through a single wire.

While decorative and flowery pictures were occasionally faxed, the fax line was predominantly used to carry stock market information between 1866 and 1870.

Eventually the fax caught the attention of the press, mainly because they could clearly see its benefits to their industry. Newspapers and magazines praised the new invention for its public service.

“Who could do better?”

Wrote a journalist at the time.  But the interruption of the 1870 war and the siege of Paris, saw the era of the mechanical fax machine with their pendulums and clockworks coming to an end.

At the turn of the century, mankind had upgraded to the modern fax machines that used light beams to read and write and had replaced the swinging pendulums.

Pictures by Fax – In 1902 physicist Arthur Korn of Germany dramatically improved English inventor Frederick Bakewell’s rotating drum idea. He constructed his cylinder out of glass, positioned a selenium cell inside, and wrapped the intended fax around the cylinder. By shinning a light through the picture and onto the selenium, Korn’s machine accurately converted the picture into electrical signals. On the other end, the signal was converted back to light and was shone on photographic film. As a result, a permanent copy was created.

Arthur Korn’s system was an overwhelming success, especially for the newspaper business, which was rapidly growing in circulation at the time. The fax machine was quickly becoming indispensable to the press and realizing the machine’s value in the competitive newspaper business, the French newspaper at the time called L’Illustration bought out Arthur’s rights to the machine in 1906 and monopolized its use in France.

As I said before, we have become a very interactive and open world. Privacy is now a highly sought commodity!

Especially for Public Figures and Celebrities and I can seriously understand all the reasons why. However, let me not deviate from my own message which I’m trying to communicate. (Lol!)

The Telephone- Alexander Graham Bell (Patented on the 14th February 1876

Alexander Graham Bell is famous for inventing the telephone, but during Bell’s era another experienced inventor called Elisha Gray took Bell to court in the 1870s, suing for the patent rights to the talking machine.

Elisha Gray

Elisha Gray, (born Aug. 2, 1835, Barnesville, Ohio, U.S.—died Jan. 21, 1901, Newtonville, Mass).

Obviously Gray did not win the patent rights as Bell is credited with the invention. However, history might have recorded Elisha Gray as the inventor if Bell had not beaten him to the patent office by a few hours on February 14th 1876.

The story is one of the most fascinating and illustrative of the contrast in style between two different types of men: My studies claimed that one man was steered by the promise of fortune and fame, while the other strictly believed in the pursuit of knowledge as his own reward.

Even after winning his patent Bell could not convince big businesses or Elisha Gray of the telephone’s usefulness. Gray was known to refer to the invention as a “beautiful scientific toy”.

Bell even offered to sell his telephone patent to Western Union https://www.britannica.com/topic/Western-Union-Corporation   but it was rejected by the company. A few years later, the very same company tried to strip Bell of his patent in a lawsuit with Elisha Gray.

Many agree that Gray was definitely an able and diligent scientist who had independently arrived at the same conclusion as Alexander Bell, but the courts were convinced that Bell deserved the patent.

To Elisha Gray, as a self-assured business man, the telephone was an annoying curiosity, almost in the same category as a hobby. However, to Bell, an amateur inventor working virtually alone, the telephone was his life.

The Self-Service Supermarket

Clarence Saunders (9th August 1881- 14th October 1953) was a flamboyant and innovative man who thought there was a waste in manpower and space in the conventional stores of his time.

It might sound strange, which it did to me when I came across this information, but the idea of a supermarket was indeed patented. According to Inventing the 20th Century,100 Inventions that shaped the World by Stephen Van Dulken, Saunders idea was filed on the 21st October 1916 and published as US patent # 1242872. C. Saunders – Self Serving Store: Patented October 9th 1917

He named the new chain Piggly Wiggly ® and franchised the format as high-volume, low-profit margin stores. The Supermarket chain is still in operation to this day.

Apparently, there is a legend told about the unusual name of the supermarket chain. Saunders stated that he once saw from a train several piglets trying to get under a fence. Lol! ked0 Smart Hy

Clarence Saunders

Over the next several years Saunders patented several improvements to the concept of a self-service store, as well as such ideas as price tagging, a lightening system for self-service stores and tape for adding machines.

Dispute with the New York Stock Exchange left him bankrupt and he never was able to live in the huge house in Memphis which he had started to build.

PINK HOUSE MUSEUM

It is now the Pink House Museum, and contains a replica of his first supermarket.

Inventing is a very tough business. It takes a thick skin and the ability to keep smiling after constantly hearing “no”.

With the death or departure of the founder of any innovative invention, quality often gives way to quantity.

Communication 101

In a survey of 480 companies and public organizations by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the ability to communicate ranked first among personal qualities of college graduates sought by employers.

We deliberately communicate through writing, reading, speaking and listening and according to Henry Mintzberg in The Nature of Managerial Work, Chief Executive Officer’s (CEO), spend allmost every minute of their day communicating.

In any organization, people communicate in many ways. Face-to-Face communication takes place during one-on-one discussions, in informal groups, and during meetings.

However, when individuals communicate face-to-face, they experience the most effective form of communication. Both nonverbal cues and verbal communication supply immediate feedback.

The critical question for you to ask yourself when communicating is, “What is my objective?”.

Do you want to motivate others to support a new or existing idea? Do you want to encourage healthy open dialogue or are you just disseminating useful information?

Miscommunication or no Communication

Unfortunately, there are many causes of miscommunication. As we know, right here in the Cayman Islands, we have many people living and working here from around the world and this can sometimes cause personality differences, word-meaning confusion, inferences, gender differences and intercultural differences.

However, I personally do not believe that this should be looked upon as a “bad thing” but as a necessary catalyst for stimulation and growth for our economy.

Individuals from different cultures bring different perceptions, value systems and different languages to the workplace. Yes, it may cause miscommunication but hey, most people are good people and there might be something you can learn from them and vice versa!

I strongly believe we just need to be more sensitive and aware of an individual’s background and experience when communicating in order to be our most effective.

We should also check to see if there are any hidden biases and if we are forming an opinion regarding certain people based on their sex, religion, age, race or simply because they belong to a particular group.

Prejudging people may make it difficult to communicate with them.

And I can’t stress enough that we should avoid stereotyping and the use of sexist, racist or ethnic remarks.

Feedback

Immediate feedback is best but sometimes not realistic. Feedback reports to the sender that the receiver (the decoder) received and understood the message. When the receiver responds to the sender, the communication process starts over again. Feedback therefore makes communication a two-way process, allowing the sender to become a receiver and vice versa.

Sometimes personal reflections can be a source of feedback when you make observations of yourself in action. You might ask yourself, “Wow, was that really me? I didn’t think I could really do it,” or “Why didn’t I think of doing this before?” Or, you might observe a certain scenario and state, “This didn’t really work the way I planned it, but the reality turned out to be better than I could have hoped for.”

Other people are also great for feedback, with one being the sender and the other being the receiver. Sometimes we need constructive observations of our actions towards others. Someone may tell you, “I didn’t think you had the guts to actually remain in such a toxic environment for so long. I know I couldn’t. I’m very impressed with you!” or, “Ever since you returned from college, you’re like a different person-so strong and decisive and self-confident. I like it!”

Unfortunately, there will always be those people around you who may be jealous of your decisive actions or your self-confidence and may give you negative feedback without any real reason for their comments. But, if you stop and think about it, you will realize that many times a person’s jealousy is just a way of revealing their envy of you. Either way, the feedback is necessary.

Results are another important source of feedback. By observing the actual effects of your actions on the intended subject, you may be able to clear up misunderstandings and explore each other’s viewpoints. If the necessary debates and negotiations work out well, everyone should feel as if some of their ideas were taken into account.

Even though technology has revolutionized the way we communicate and conduct business, the most vital element of communication remains the continued development of an organization’s most valuable resource-its people.

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