Tag Archives: Cultural

Managing Intercultural Communication in the Virtual Team

Working in an intercultural environment is becoming increasingly common. One of the results of such set-ups is an experience of more communication difficulties. Different approaches to areas such management, communication, time, meetings, conflict resolution and the sharing of information are all culturally relative. When cultures come together and differ in their approaches, misunderstandings can and do occur. It is these that can often lead to poor team performance or morale.

The intercultural team is by no means a straightforward environment. People need to be aware and sensitive to the dynamics of the group. However, consider the extra challenges when this team is virtual. By their very definition, virtual teams bring together people from different time zones, cultures, geographies and mind-sets making it highly unlikely that much team work will happen face-to-face, if at all. Consequently communication takes on a whole new dimension making it even more of a challenge.

In order to operate effectively any team needs trust. Building trust is critical. Yet in the virtual team this is very difficult to achieve. Without spending much time together can a team really gel? Some cultures such as the U.S. or Germany may find it easy, i.e. they come from cultures where the relationship is not crucial. Other, more relationship driven cultures such as the Middle East or South America, may however struggle to ever feel totally at ease working with someone they do not know on a personal level.

Cultures have different ways of communicating; some are comfortable expressing opinions and discussing things openly and directly; others look for more subtle ways of expressing themselves. Some may have no issues raising delicate subjects in front of others; many cultures would not even contemplate doing so in an open arena. Some cultures use a lot of non-vernal communication such body language and eye-contact to convey meaning; others rely almost completely on the spoken word. Some cultures are comfortable getting right down to business while others need a little time to make dialogue comfortable.

Working “blind”, i.e. not being in each others presence, increases the chances of misunderstandings.
Throw in the cultural complexities and managing this is twice as problematic. Team members who are quieter (whether due to cultural or personal leanings) will make less of a contribution on telephone conference calls. Language proficiency will also play a significant role in the ability of people to contribute. Imagine how challenging it is for someone to join a spirited conversation on the telephone if they are either uncomfortable interrupting or not fluent in the language being used.

These are but a few of the many intercultural complexities that make virtual teams very challenging.

For those working in an intercultural virtual team, the following ten tips are good guidelines to keep in mind to ensure communication is kept clear:

1. If possible it is beneficial to bring all team members together physically. This can be at the birth of the team or at regular intervals.

2. The manager or team together should establish clear ground rules of engagement covering issues such as:

a. How meetings are to be structured

b. How decisions will be made

c. How written communications will be used

d. How responses should be processed or given

e. How conflicts will be resolved

f. Whether interrupting a speaker will be acceptable

3. Written agendas for team meetings are important to give structure.

4. Clear, easy-to-understand objectives that are communicated frequently must be created.

5. Carefully monitor how comfortable all team members are with the technology used in virtual meetings or communication. Support those that may be struggling.

6. Develop clear guidelines for email regarding formality and timeliness of response.

7. Solicit feedback from all participants.

8. Be careful not to always interpret silence as agreement or incomprehension.

9. Follow-up meetings with written communication to be sure everyone understands.

10. Create an atmosphere that tolerates differences.

Dominican Republic Condos Are Surrounded By Rich Cultural Heritage

While Dominican Republic condos are often associated with sun and sand, they are also close to the rich cultural history of this former Spanish colony. Here are a few cultural sites that can be found nowhere else in the Caribbean.

Catedral Primada de America (First Cathedral of America)

Completed by the middle of the 16th century (about 150 years after Columbus arrived in the Americas), this cathedral is the oldest in the Western Hemisphere, and contains Gothic and late Renaissance influences – something that can be seen nowhere else in the Caribbean. When Christopher Columbus died, this was his final resting place, until his body was moved at a later date.

Plaza De la Cultura

This large park in Santo Domingo is home to many of the city’s museums and art galleries, as well as the National Library, and is probably the most famous part of the entire city. The plaza also features cinemas and theatres, and there is a dress code (no short, bare feet or bare arms) for most of the national buildings.

Museo de Ambar Dominicano (Amber Museum of Puerto Plata)

The Dominican Republic is famous for its amber (the nationally designated gem of the country) and this museum, located in Parque Central (the center of the City of Puerto Plata) is a great place to experience it. The museum itself is house in a building more than one hundred years old, built by the Bentz family, wealthy merchants.

Mount Isabel de Torres

The most fantastic views in the Dominican Republic can be found from the top of this mountain. Accessible by cable car, the mountain is notable for the large statue of Christ that overlooks and protects the city below, Puerto Plata, itself a city home to beautiful colonial buildings.

Altos de Chavon
Constructed by Charles Bluhdorn, a set designer for Universal Studios, this weird and wonderful replica of a Spanish village that was completed in the early 1980s. A must-see during any visit to the Dominican Republic, this attraction features art galleries and an archaeological museum.

Real estate in the Dominican Republic is about more than powdery-white sand and the best scuba diving in the region. The culture of this ancient country makes the real estate market more attractive.