Communication is defined as a process by which messages are conveyed from one person to another. An effective communication entails conveying of a message unambiguously and clearly. Effective communication ensures that a message sent reaches the receiver with very little or no distortion. A United States manufacturing company needs to conduct a strategic planning session with a key local supplier in China and hence there will be need for communication. It is evident that there are some key potential issued or barriers that are likely to affect the communication process between the US and the foreign supplier. Some of these barriers will be thoroughly examined in this paper.
Barriers to Effective Communication
Effective communication barriers are among the major problems faced by majority of organizations such as business organization. US electrons firm is an example of an organization that is likely to face communication barrier problems. Some of the barriers of communication that are likely to arise are as following (Jandt, 2009). The first barrier is physical barriers. These barriers include large working areas that are separated from each other physically. China and United States are two countries that lie in different continents and hence are very much separated from each other physically. The distance and physical separation may affect effective communication between the two parties. It is therefore evident that physical barrier is among the key barriers of effective communication between US and China partnership.
The second barrier to communication is language barrier. USA and China citizens speak different languages. In US, American English is the national language while in China, Chinese is the national language. The difference in language between individuals may affect communication and hence act as a barrier to effective communication. Conversations between the US firm members and the foreign suppliers could lead to misunderstandings and confusion (Gunde, 2002).
The other barrier is lack of subject knowledge. In this case lack of knowledge by either the US firm of foreign suppliers about the subject may act as a barrier to effective communications. Both the firm and the suppliers have to have adequate knowledge on strategic planning methods and other key features of strategic planning. It is essential for both the foreign suppliers and firm members to have knowledge on decision-making process and to have decision-making skills so that they can have effective communication and negotiations (Jandt, 2009).
Cultural barriers are another example of communication barriers likely to affect communication and negotiations between the US Firm and foreign suppliers. United States and China are two countries with different cultural values and practices. What is acceptable in one country may not be acceptable in the other country. The acceptable and non-acceptable may include both non-verbal and verbal messages in addition to characteristics of the message context for instance place, time and relationships involved in the interaction and communication differences. Hence, cultural diversity and differences between the by the negotiating parties may prove to be a great communication barrier.
The other barrier that arises due to ethnic differences is body language. Body language can be interpreted differently in different countries of the world for instance interpretation of body language in United States is different from interpretation of body language in China. For instance Americans signal no by shaking their heads and Chinese people interpret disagreement by frowning while someone is speaking. The other example is that staring into another person’s eyes is considered disrespectful among the Chinese (Gunde, 2002). This is not the case with Americans. The differences in body language may therefore prove to be a communication barrier and hence affect negotiations between US electron firm and foreign suppliers.
To address the mentioned issues, the US firm has to take some actions and some of these actions will be discussed below. One of the most important actions is for the US firm to gain a better understanding of languages and the associated sensitivity. This will in one way or another break the cultural and language barriers to communications and ease the negotiation process between US Firm and the foreign suppliers. It is essential for the US firm to try as much as it can to learn about the Chinese culture, values and if possible their language. This will make the communication process much easy due to better understanding between the negotiating parties. According to the Chinese culture, business relationships are built formally after the Chinese get to know the person they are working with (Gunde, 2002).
The other important aspect that will help break communication barriers that may exist between US firm and foreign suppliers is for the US firm to respect the foreign party’s individual differences, personalities and abilities. Knowledge of an individual’s culture is the first step to getting to know that individual and hence make the communication process much easy. For instance, decision-making process among the Chinese may take a long time since they require careful consideration and review (Jandt, 2009). Research has shown that reducing the barriers that affect communication can improve almost every aspect of communication. According to John Thill and Courtland Bovee, authors of ‘Business Communication Essentials’, effective communication leads to stronger decision-making, quicker problem solving and strengthened relationships. This means that through reducing the language and cultural barriers between US firm and foreign suppliers, the process of negotiation will be more effective and decision-making will also be strengthened (Jandt, 2009).
Motivational Factors for a Foreign Workforce
First of all a foreign workforce needs to feel and be assured of security. Hence, a foreign workforce should be given attention and security just like the domestic workforce. Stereotyping and treating them differently will make them lose motivation. The other way through which foreign workforce can get motivation is by respecting the workforce. Respect will lead to creativity and increased productivity. The main reason why a foreign work force needs respect as a form of motivation is due to the cultural and ethnic differences with the domestic workforce. Hence, by respecting them despite the language and cultural differences, a foreign workforce is given a sense of security and acceptance (Jandt, 2009). The other way of motivating a foreign workforce is through fair treatment. Both foreign and domestic workforce within an organization should be treated fairly. The other Discrimination and unfair treatment will de-motivate a foreign workforce and make the workface lack the desire to work. The other way that has proved to be effective in motivating a foreign workforce is investing resources and time in helping the workforce to adjust to the new environment. Giving them support encourages them and gives them the motivation to work harder to increase productivity.
Gunde, R. (2002) Culture and customs of China. Greenwood Publishing Group.
Jandt, F.E. (2009) An Introduction to Intercultural Communication: Identities in
a Global Community (6th Ed). SAGE