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In the West we say “give it to me straight.” Generally speaking, people in the United States tend to be direct, and North Europeans even more so. In some parts of the world, people might give you directions even if they have no idea how to get there.
Direct vs indirect communication is one of the most important facets of cultural diversity in the workplace. Imagine a promising manager getting a promotion, and working with a global team for the first time.
To communicate effectively, it’s increasingly essential to have intercultural communication skills, as evidenced from recent initiatives in top government offices, to local college campuses.
Experts estimate that in the West, up to 70% of communication is physical interaction such as body language. Anyone who doubts that intercultural training is an essential part of business and the workplace, need look no further than current articles in mainstream publications, from the Harvard Business Review to Entrepreneur Magazine. There are many facets that affect cultural perceptions of time, and one of them is calendars.
A memoAn abbreviation for memorandum; normally used for communicating policies, procedures, or related official business within an organization. A memo’s purpose is often to inform, but it occasionally includes an element of persuasion or a call to action. One effective way to address informal, unofficial speculation is to spell out clearly for all employees what is going on with a particular issue.
While memos do not normally include a call to action that requires personal spending, they often represent the business or organization’s interests. A memo has a header that clearly indicates who sent it and who the intended recipients are. In a standard writing format, we might expect to see an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.
Memos are often announcements, and the person sending the memo speaks for a part or all of the organization.
Some written business communication allows for a choice between direct and indirect formats, but memorandums are always direct.
Memos are a place for just the facts, and should have an objective tone without personal bias, preference, or interest on display.
While e-mail and text messages may be used more frequently today, the effective business letter remains a common form of written communication. Letters may serve to introduce your skills and qualifications to prospective employers, deliver important or specific information, or serve as documentation of an event or decision. The date should be placed at the top, right or left justified, five lines from the top of the page or letterhead logo. Like a subject line in an e-mail, this is where you indicate what the letter is in reference to, the subject or purpose of the document. This is your opening paragraph, and may include an attention statement, a reference to the purpose of the document, or an introduction of the person or topic depending on the type of letter.
If you have a list of points, a series of facts, or a number of questions, they belong in the body of your letter.
An emphatic closing mirrors your introduction with the added element of tying the main points together, clearly demonstrating their relationship.
Five lines after the close, you should type your name (required) and, on the line below it, your title (optional). If the letter was prepared, or word-processed, by someone other than the signatory (you), then inclusion of initials is common, as in MJD or abc. Just like an e-mail with an attachment, the letter sometimes has additional documents that are delivered with it. A formal business letter normally includes a logo or contact information for the organization in the header (top of page) or footer (bottom of page). Memos are brief business documents usually used internally to inform or persuade employees concerning business decisions on policy, procedure, or actions.
Letters are brief, print messages often used externally to inform or persuade customers, vendors, or the public.
Find a business letter (for example, an offer you received from a credit card company or a solicitation for a donation) and share it with your classmates. Now that you have reviewed a sample letter, and learned about the five areas and fifteen basic parts of any business letter, write a business letter that informs a prospective client or customer of a new product or service. Slideshare uses cookies to improve functionality and performance, and to provide you with relevant advertising. Neil Miller November 11, 2014 Filed Under: Communication, Team Management Do you hear what your Indian team is saying? As we saw in the earlier post about order of communication, Leonard is looking for a quick answer to his question, “Will that be ok?” The first thing he hears is “I think so”, which translates for him as “Yes”.
If you are doing business in Asia, you must learn not only how to speak indirectly, but also how to listen indirectly.


At Indian weddings while the food is being served, it isn’t uncommon for an uncle to get the server’s attention and ask for a sweet for the person sitting next to him. Similarly, if the answer starts with ‘Yes’, but has a lot of conditions added on to it (…we’ll see, …if we get the specs on time, …we’ll try), then it is much weaker than you likely perceive it to be. Hesitation or delayed responses are other ways people suggest that there is something more to the picture you aren’t seeing.
If you work with younger Indians, you might find them giggling when confronted with something. If confronted by a North European, it’s okay to be firm about your opinions.But in other cultures, people believe conflict is dysfunctional and would rather be indirect and diplomatic.
The reason: they don’t want to disappoint you or embarrass themselves by telling you they don’t know. Communication Problems - These roundabout communication styles can cause problems, from getting accurate feedback from employees, to getting a yes or no answer. Asked Different Ways – To get more direct information, you might try gently asking a question several different ways.
But cultural diversity is perhaps the most challenging aspect of respect and sensitivity training. One of the main differences in intercultural communication is style, or the manner in which people speak in communicate.
Just as different parts of the world have different time zones, they also have varying perceptions of time. If budget cuts are a concern, then it may be wise to send a memo explaining the changes that are imminent.
They may also include statements that align business and employee interest, and underscore common ground and benefit.
An acronym or abbreviation that is known to management may not be known by all the employees of the organization, and if the memo is to be posted and distributed within the organization, the goal is clear and concise communication at all levels with no ambiguity. While it may contain a request for feedback, the announcement itself is linear, from the organization to the employees. It can serve to introduce you to a potential employer, announce a product or service, or even serve to communicate feelings and emotions. The audience or reader may have their own idea of what constitutes a specific type of letter, and your organization may have its own format and requirements.
Regardless of the type of letter you need to write, it can contain up to fifteen elements in five areas. If your letter includes a letterhead with this information, either in the header (across the top of the page) or the footer (along the bottom of the page), you do not need to include it before the date.
This can make it clear to a third party that the letter was delivered via a specific method, such as certified mail (a legal requirement for some types of documents). An emphatic opening involves using the most significant or important element of the letter in the introduction. You may choose organizational devices to draw attention, such as a bullet list, or simply number them. This line indicates what the reader can look for in terms of documents included with the letter, such as brochures, reports, or related business documents. Just like a “CC” option in an e-mail, it indicates the relevant parties that will also receive a copy of the document. Share it with your classmates, observing confidentiality by blocking out identifying details such as the name of the sender, recipient, and company.
We complain when someone is just ‘telling us what we want to hear’, but we don’t realize that we might be causing the problem in the first place.
OD consultant Allon Shevat writes extensively on this and his blog is incredibly useful and occasionally startling for cross-cultural managers. This isn’t a hard and fast rule as some people are just very verbose or nervous, but one common way to give a negative answer is to talk a lot. If you ask for their input on a new design and their first comment is “What do you think?”, they are testing the waters; potentially because they have something negative to say and aren’t sure how you will respond to it.
They can also be used as a distraction to hope that you don’t ask more about a certain subject. It can mean a variety of things, but the best translation is the soft ‘grunt’ or ‘Hmm’ that Americans will do when they are following along in a conversation.
In indirect cultures, the emphasis is on social harmony, one of the key differences in values between cultures. For example, a South American passenger jet once crashed near New York after the cockpit crew failed to be direct about the severity of their lack of fuel.2. I’m drafting this post from a coffee shop in Toronto, my partner is in Santiago and the rest of our inbound marketing team spread across Romania, the U.S. It is often written from a one-to-all perspective (like mass communication), broadcasting a message to an audience, rather than a one-on-one, interpersonal communication.
The unofficial, informal communication network within an organization is often called the grapevineThe unofficial, informal communication network within an organization, often characterized by rumor, gossip, and innuendo., and it is often characterized by rumor, gossip, and innuendo.


Date and subject lines are also present, followed by a message that contains a declaration, a discussion, and a summary.
The memo may have legal standing as it often reflects policies or procedures, and may reference an existing or new policy in the employee manual, for example.
We’ll examine the basic outline of a letter and then focus on specific products or writing assignments.
This chapter outlines common elements across letters, and attention should be directed to the expectations associated with your particular writing assignment. While you may not use all the elements in every case or context, they are listed in Table 9.1 "Elements of a Business Letter".
A comma after the salutation is correct for personal letters, but a colon should be used in business.
Readers tend to pay attention to openings, and it makes sense to outline the expectations for the reader up front. Readers may skip over information in the body of your letter, so make sure you emphasize the key points clearly. When your colleague says, “It could work” in response to your idea, there is a good chance he has some major misgivings. In emails and texts, Indians are less indirect than other cultures, but a silent response is a clear sign that something is going on. Third Parties – Another strategy is to seek information through third parties, especially local associates.
It may also be used to update a team on activities for a given project, or to inform a specific group within a company of an event, action, or observance. On the grapevine, one person may hear that someone else is going to be laid off and start passing the news around. For example, on February 13, 2009, upper management at the Panasonic Corporation issued a declaration that all employees should buy at least $1,600 worth of Panasonic products. The discussion elaborates or lists major points associated with the topic, and the conclusion serves as a summary. There are many types of letters, and many adaptations in terms of form and content, but in this chapter, we discuss the fifteen elements of a traditional block-style letter. The salutation “To whom it may concern” is appropriate for letters of recommendation or other letters that are intended to be read by any and all individuals. Just as you would preview your topic in a speech, the clear opening in your introductions establishes context and facilitates comprehension.
If your letter requests or implies action, the conclusion needs to make clear what you expect to happen. If someone requests you pay more attention to a colleague, it may be a sign that they also feel neglected. But as a cross-cultural manager who cares about good communication, it’s a skill you need to build. Rumors change and transform as they are passed from person to person, and before you know it, the word is that they are shutting down your entire department. The company president noted that if everyone supported the company with purchases, it would benefit all.Lewis, L. If this is not the case with your letter, but you are unsure of how to address your recipient, make every effort to find out to whom the letter should be specifically addressed.
It is usually courteous to conclude by thanking the recipient for his or her attention, and to invite them to contact you if you can be of help or if they have questions. In Japan, there are more than a dozen different ways to give rejection, each appropriate for different occasions. They are often printed on letterhead paper, and represent the business or organization in one or two pages. For many, there is no sweeter sound than that of their name, and to spell it incorrectly runs the risk of alienating the reader before your letter has even been read. This paragraph reiterates the main points and their relationship to each other, reinforcing the main point or purpose. An Asian executive might be more open in an informal setting like a golf course, or a Latin American subordinate more forthcoming behind closed doors.7. Shorter messages may include e-mails or memos, either hard copy or electronic, while reports tend to be three or more pages in length.
Avoid the use of impersonal salutations like “Dear Prospective Customer,” as the lack of personalization can alienate a future client. Diplomacy Wins – At the same time, you’ll need to be more diplomatic to avoid seeming pushy or rude.



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indirect communication synonym



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