Social Networking and Cross-Cultural Competence

If you look at the stats below, you get a sense of understanding how important social networks have become in our lives. Interestingly, even more ‘private’ topics such as politics and religion are being discussed, even more so in countries like Tunisia, Jordan or Egypt.

Social Media use - PEW

Knowing how to build communities and to nurture them; more importantly, how to communicate across cultures and borders becomes an essential skill in today’s connected world. Relationships are becoming more complex as often people communicating with each other don’t necessarily have the opportunity to see themselves.

But: as I wrote in an earlier post about the components of communication, 55% of the non-verbal aspects actually contribute to the understanding of what your counterpart is saying and 38% of the paraverbal. Hence, when communicating in social networks where usually you cannot see your discussion partner, the tone of your message, character fonts, drawings, diagrams, colours, italics or highlights are extremely important.

Understanding your target audience and their culture plus choosing the right tone and message is a must when building relationships in the business world but also privately.

I am extremely happy to be able to speak about this exciting subject in London on the 21st of February. Looking forward to seeing you there and if not, please stay tuned as we will be setting up tailored webinars to follow-up on the conference around three major topics:

  1. Social networking across cultures and platforms
  2. How to use social media effectively across cultures for Internationalization, Marketing and Strategic Communication
  3. Using Social Media for Community Management


Evening thoughts…


Without a global revolution in the sphere of human consciousness,
nothing will change for the better in the sphere of our being as humans,
and the catastrophe towards which this world is headed – be it ecological,
social, demographic or a general breakdown of civilization – will be unavoidable. The salvation of this human world lies nowhere else
than in the human heart, in the human power to reflect,
in human meekness and in human responsibility. – Vaclav Havel, President of Czech Republic in his address to the U.S. Congress

Communicating with Different Cultures – a few Tips

Trees with flowers

The other day, while preparing a class in international marketing that I am going to give in France beginning of April, I stumbled upon this very useful handbook. Although very basic, I thought that it was still extremely helpful to read through it once again.

So here they are, a few simple points to help you communicate with people no matter where they come from:

  • Be very aware of yourself
    Try to understand how and why you communicate the way you do. Also pay attention to your speed and how you express yourself in languages which are not your mother tongue. This will help you appreciate others’ styles and how you may need to adapt to them. Pay attention to how people react and respond to you by looking for subtle changes in facial expressions and posture. Be aware however that non-verbal signs differ from one culture to another.
  • Be curious, with respect
    If you work closely with people from a particular country, learn about the people and how they like to communicate – from greetings to gestures to non-verbal behaviour. Build your know-how by observing, asking questions, watching movies, reading current affair articles and researching online.
  • Clarify your intentions
    Always explaining what you mean, especially when you are not communicating in your mother tongue can save lots of trouble and problems. You could for example explain that in your culture, communication tends to be more direct and that meaning only comes from words and not from interpreting the situation (low-context culture).
  • Take a step back from the situation
    Whenever you find yourself in a confusing situation, get into the habit of asking what is going on and seeking clarification from your counterparts. Usually the other person’s intentions are good, you are simply confused as you don’t know how to interpret what is going on.
  • Put yourself in the other person’s shoes
    We all have preferences as to what we like and dislike when it comes to communication and we tend to make quick judgments about people based on these preferences. The challenge is to stay open in a non-judging way. Try to put yourself into the other ‘worldview’, experiencing but not assimilating it, well aware of the differences and similarities.
  • Do not stereotype
    Do not stereotype but read individuals. If you start judging, tell yourself “here I am judging again”. Every person is different and you might even be surprised about how a person with a certain cultural background behaves completely different from what you would have expected. Everybody is a human being, an individual, just like you!
  • Keep trying and don’t give up
    We change the way we communicate on a frequent basis depending on who we are talking to (a friend, a family member, a colleague). Communicating effectively with people from other cultures just means being conscious and sometimes making a few more changes. Be aware that you can only change yourself and not the others around you. The more you are sensitive to how things work, the more you will see progress and positive outcomes.
  • Be patient with yourself and don’t be afraid of making mistakes
    The beauty lies in learning from mistakes and openly discussing what happened with your peers, a mentor, partner or even a coach. As you develop your intercultural skills and competence you will learn how to do things better over time! After all, skills can be acquired, they only need practice, practice, practice…

4 tips on how to remain serene and creative throughout the week

Mindful LeadershipBefore you start the new week, let me give some tips on how to remain serene and creative even though you have to cope with a flood of incoming mails, various problems, family issues etc.:

  • When you wake up in the morning, smile to yourself; your mood will directly improve.
  • Every time you feel tight or stressed, remember to breathe. Even better: take a couple of deep breaths, walk a couple of steps and stretch; you will immediately feel better and tensions will loosen.
  • Take the habit of establishing some so-called ‘micro-practices’: a certain trigger makes you take a particular action reminding you of staying mindful and switching off the auto-pilot. Example: whenever you are stopping at a red light with your car, take a moment to check in with you body, to feel what is going on and to breathe a couple of times deeply. Or: whenever your phone rings, instead of responding immediately, take a moment for centering yourself and feeling your body.
  • Do something creative every day; be it arranging the kitchen table for dinner in the evening in a different way than usual, giving a creative input while being in a team meeting etc. You will see that the more you do that, the more ideas you will get!

Here’s wishing you an excellent week!