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How to Communicate Effectively in the Online Multi-Cultural World

The limits of my language are the limits of my world.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

I like you because we hate all the same people.

A lot of studies and research in the psychology field have found that the more similar you are with someone else, the more the other person likes you. This is especially true when it comes to other cultures, since prejudices and stereotypes are more often than not, related to someone whose cultural background is different than yours. Additionally, consciously or subconsciously, people are inclined to think that their culture is superior compared to others.

In a world where communication with culturally diverse community is everyday reality and even necessity, what we cannot (or don’t want to) accept as a social value, we must accept for the sake of doing business. Multiculturalism is a reality. Being multicultural is a mindset.

Nonetheless, the aim of this article is not to deal with studies on multiculturalism, sociology or psychology, but to help ease the online communication among Fourerr sellers and buyers. We have chosen not to speak about theories here, but to provide you with simple and applicable communication tips, useful when operating in a multi-cultural online world.

Focus on Language

Whether you provide or ask for services online, the language is how you do it. If you have face-to-face contact in a multicultural setting, you should be aware of non-verbal communication as well. However, in some cases it may be even harder to set the things right when verbal is the only possible way of communication, since everything depends on words. And the words can have different meanings for different people and cultures.

  1. Native and non-native English speakers. Always bear in mind that the other side may not be a native English speaker. Use simple sentences and vocabulary. Less is more when you want to communicate clearly. Reread your sentences to see if you have any spelling and grammar mistakes as well.
  2. Nonstandard language. Don’t use non-standard abbreviations such as “np” instead of “no problem” or “u r” instead of “you are”. Slang, jargon and idiomatic expressions should be avoided. Metaphors may have different meaning in different cultures. Avoid using them as well.
  3. Did you understand? Ask the other person in a very polite manner to summarize or repeat in their own words what is required from them, so that you are sure that your message is clearly understood.
  4. Task – deadline – earnings. Precisely define the obligations and expectations. When defining the deadline, beware of the differences in time zones. For example, as a client, you should clearly define what you expect until what time (and what time zone), and how much will you pay for it. The service providers must be aware and communicate whether she/he is able to meet the expectations until that particular deadline, and whether the amount offered is enough.
  5. After the job is finished. Once the job is  done, it is very reasonable to expect that sometimes your expectations may not be met. Before jumping to conclusions and maybe start arguing, you can simply ask the other side to give an explanation. More often than not, different cultures have different models of reasoning. The other side of the story may amaze you. And although this is rare and may be frustrating, you can even find it fun since you will learn something new about others.

P.S. I remember attending international summer school in Italy a few years ago. There was a great professor who was giving lectures on multiculturalism. He pointed out that going in foreign country and having an opportunity to sleep at familiar hotel (e.g. Hilton) or eat familiar food at familiar place (e.g. McDonalds) instead of being forced to experience new cultures is a globalization by-product. You can never pay enough when it comes to experience, and experience is what you get as a bonus when providing and selling services in an online multicultural market.

To sum it up, here is a very beautiful and famous song somehow that’s related to multiculturalism.  Enjoy!

 

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