2022 takeaways | Stillman Translations
2022 takeaways

We made a list of things we stand for when it comes to communication and multiculturalism. How many of these do you see everyday in your business?

We made a list of things we stand for when it comes to communication and multiculturalism. How many of these do you see everyday in your business?

Organizations are no more than the people within them. The people within an organization tend more and more to be diverse. A hub of culturally varied individuals.  

This is great! Diversity and inclusion leads to innovative thinking, improved judgment, and a myriad of perspectives. But they come with their fair share of discrepancies. The key? Communication. 

Communication can be considered as one of the biggest challenges but also your biggest ally. As employees speak different languages and clients are spread all around the world, finding ways to communicate effectively and safely is top priority. 

multiculturalism; communication; bussines 2023
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash 

Key cultural aspects

According to Jens Allwood   culture   can   be   systematically distinguished into four key cultural aspects: 

  • On the basis of thought process: people who belong to  similar  cultures usually have  similar thinking, set of beliefs, biases, emotional approaches and so on.  
  • On the basis of behavioral framework: people who share common attitudes and  behaviors. 
  • On the basis of choice: groups with same choices or patterns of work, clothes, technologies, means to sustain life, etc.  
  • On natural trajectories:   the   old   procedures   and   methodologies   adopted   by specific groups  which  are available  in   natural surroundings and   are still   in  use.    

All of these coexist, that’s one variable too many to handle. So it’s really not about handling, or withholding power. It’s about laying bridges.  

Ayellet Noff, Founder & CEO of SlicedBrand, a global PR agency with an award winning team, explains this first hand: “As someone who grew up in both the U.S. and Israel and now works with startups from and to many other countries, I understand the profound differences that can exist in cultural communication and businesses styles. I have learned that professionals from Europe or the U.S., for instance, need information delivered in a more formal style while Israelis are far more informal and direct”. 

Whether it’s speaking to someone in their own language or speaking to someone in the cultural style, there is a unique value in crafting your message to suit the needs of your audience. Be it an internal audience, or external.

New technologies and new ways of communication

So, our first takeaway is that there is an opportunity to gain insights about each culture, how they use new technologies and new ways of communication, and the way to reach them is through localized messages and multiple channels and formats of communication.  

This translates to: subtitles, voiceover, localized websites and multimedia campaigns, yes. But also, speaking to people from other countries in their language, and incorporating their insights into company policies, into behaviors, into key messages. There is much to learn, make sure you have the resources and will to listen.  

Also, a global network is a very valuable asset. But the time difference alone is a challenge.  And demands so much versatility. At 4 a.m. you could be talking with a Chinese representative in a very direct and ‘cut to the chase’ meeting, and a few hours later keeping it polite with an English crowd.  

Make sure though, before writing your communications, that it is at least reviewed and commented on by someone from your intended audience. That you are the right person to be writing to a certain multicultural audience on whichever topic you chose. That you have considered where all audiences who might read your communication in order to choose the most fitting format. 

This is the situation we people must endure, learn and adapt to. But when introducing a product in a new city, a similar process takes place. Some markets will quickly adopt you, but others will take time. You’ll have to wedge your way in.

Market research

So our second takeaway is, when launching a new product, market research on multiculturalism, habits, and common expressions is key. It’s similar to the first, but we shift the focus. There is an opportunity to grow, bond and reach more people in the first. That’s more about empathy, and how it will translate to business.  

Here, it’s all business. Your product doesn’t solve the same needs in other countries, cities or towns. Make sure you do your homework before moving on to implementing your strategy.  Does your company reflect your audience? If it doesn’t, how will you fix this? When you are trying to reach older people, you need to keep them in your organization and value what they can contribute.  In case you’re going for Latin America, do you have someone with insights?

Be coherent and consistent

Therefore, our third takeaway is to be coherent and consistent. We can help you communicate, and we can bring on people from all kinds of backgrounds who will be understanding. But only you know your business. Make sure you’ve considered all the previous points.  

Finally, the most powerful way to deal with any cultural difference is to hire curious people who believe in the benefit of teamwork, understanding and empathy, both for business and for life. So we will end this reflection with a final takeaway when it comes to communication: always give the benefit of the doubt and always assume you’ll be misunderstood.  

And work your way up from there. At Stillman, we can help.

If you would like to learn more about this topic go to “New year, new trends. What’s coming in the language expert world in 2023?”.