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indirect communication in China
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Indirect Communication in China

With China’s entering into the WTO, China becomes closer to other countries. International business negotiation has manifested its importance. In order to get a win-win prospect, China should know more about the problems that might come up in the business negotiations.

Meanwhile, in order to negotiate effectively and gain the win-win situation for both parties, we must have a thorough understanding of different cultures, analyze the differences among the cross-cultural thinking and their influences on negotiation thinking.

It is More than Just How to Communicate in English

As dispersed teams become more and more favorable to employers, particularly in the IT world, communication obstacles may inhibit these virtual teams from achieving optimal productivity. Not only will dispersed teams experience difficulties communicating via technological devices, but considering the globalized nature of virtually dispersed teams means that intercultural communication issues will also be a source of conflict. Today many virtually dispersed teams work in countries such as India and China. English is the language used for business and even if all members of the teams are able to speak very well, dealing with low-quality audio on a conference call, can accentuate accents, making it difficult to follow what is being said.

Even in a situation where there are no accents it is already often difficult to understand. Adding a few heavy accents creates a frustrating situation for everyone because the conversation is halted when people are forced to repeat themselves multiple times. Also, sometimes out of fear of being impolite or insensitive information is just lost when people give up on trying to understand what is being communicated. This essay studies the inside law of business negotiation practice of our country from the point of cultural differences and analyzes the reasons why these cultural differences come up and learn how to deal with them.

Verbal Communication in China is Quite Different from the West

Western countries such as the US and Canada are called low culture context countries which rely on verbal expression. They tend to communicate directly to others. On the other hand, in high context cultures such as China and Japan provide less information in verbal expression. They prefer an indirect communication style. The variables can be individual backgrounds, associations, values, gender, position in the company, and status in society. The objective is to improve the knowledge and the understanding of relevant negotiation-related cultural differences and offer some recommendations for Chinese negotiators.

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With the integration of the global economy, high speed developing communication, and frequent intercourse of international business people, they influence each other, and learn from others’ strong points to offset their own weakness. Some business people’s different style is not so obvious anymore. Therefore, we should acquaint ourselves with the differences of negotiating styles of different countries. Moreover, we should act according to circumstances in real business negotiations and adjust our negotiating pattern to get the expected goal.

The Benefits of a Cross-Cultural Team

A dispersed team creates an opportunity for the company to complete tasks more effectively and efficiently, save the company travel expenses, and allows the company to bring new products and services to the market in a timely manner. Intercultural dispersed teams may benefit the company even further by contributing new strategies and perspectives to the dynamic of the team. However, trust building and trust development are critical issues that dispersed intercultural teams have to overcome.

Particularly, misunderstandings in communication may contribute to the trust building barriers in intercultural teams. A few methods that may help improve the team’s ability to communicate is to establish personal connections with one another, communicate via varied means of technology, and educate members on cultural differences that may exist in China.

Build Relationships

The first step is to build relationships with the other members of the team. This may be difficult considering team members are located all over the world but in today’s society, building relationships via technological means is easier than ever. Teams should attempt to build trust with one another. If a business trip is too costly or inefficient for the team, establishing personal relationships by sharing photographs of one another may help members put a face with the voice they are hearing and allow them to establish personal connections.

Often, virtually dispersed teams communicate mostly by means of audio conference calls. This method creates mistaken communication and even loss of information. Varying the methods of communication in which the team utilizes may reduce communication problems, information loss, and frustrations among team members.

How to Communicate in English Effectively

E-mail may be an effective mode of communication in these types of situations. This method allows non-native speakers to gather their thoughts and compose their message in a clear and concise manner. This may also help to reduce loss of information as accents are not an issue in e-mail communication. The receiver will also have the opportunity to ask for any clarifications right away. However, virtual teams who use this method should send several brief e-mails throughout the day instead of one long e-mail as a long e-mail can become quite tedious to read. Another method is video conference calls as opposed to strictly audio conference calls. This method also increases “face-to-face” time which may improve personal relationships as well.

Lastly, managers and executives should educate the teams on differences in cultures that exist in communication styles. Cultural differences may be apparent in the expectations of formal vs. informal communication, toleration of aggressive/assertive communication and direct vs. indirect communication in China. If the team members are aware and sensitive to these differences in communication styles, they may be able to address misunderstandings and obstacles with communication more effectively. In conclusion, virtual teams that are dispersed overseas may benefit from building interpersonal and trusting relationships with members of the team, varying methods of communication, and educating team members on cultural differences and sensitivities. Establishing these strategies may reduce the frustrations of team members and loss of information which will, in turn, allow the team to work more effectively and efficiently in China.

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