Bridging Cultural Gaps Through Effective Intercultural Communication

Technological advancements in an increasingly globalized world have led to more diverse workplaces. People can communicate over the Internet and manage teams and companies without meeting in person.

Since the pandemic, remote work has become more common across different industries. In the United States, around 22 million people work from home full-time, with similar trends observed globally. Due to improvements in connectivity, people can work from any geographical location.

Consequently, many companies and organizations have teams from different places and cultural backgrounds. This diversity can make for an enriching, stimulating work environment. However, without good communication, these differences can also cause specific problems.

Keep reading to understand the importance of intercultural communication and how companies can overcome the communication challenges of a diverse workplace.

Understanding Intercultural Communication

Understanding intercultural communication

Intercultural communication refers to communication between different cultural groups. The term “culture” can cover a wide breadth of characteristics and practices. One’s cultural background can include class, education, religion, ethnicity, and other differentiating aspects.

Additionally, one’s culture can have an extensive effect on their life. It can affect their communication style, approach to work, and how they show respect. 

For example, some cultures are looser with honorifics, meaning employees might call their managers by their first name. Others, however, might be used to hierarchies and have strict rules on addressing people in different positions.

A multicultural workplace brings a wealth of perspectives to the table. The diverse viewpoints can help teams develop creative solutions that benefit the company. 

However, some cultural differences could cause tensions within the workplace. For this reason, developing effective intercultural communication among employees is essential to maintain good working relationships.

Intercultural communication considers the differences between employees’ different cultural backgrounds. It helps educate employees and develop strategies to understand each other better.

Also Read: What is a High-Performance Culture?

Benefits of Effective Intercultural Communication in the Workplace

Challenges - Bridging Cultural Gaps

Effective communication is always necessary in the workplace. However, attention to communication habits is critical in a multicultural team, as issues might be more prevalent.

Let’s explore some of the key benefits of effective intercultural workplace communication.

Better teamwork

Intercultural communication helps foster better teamwork in any workplace. The more people understand each other’s work and communication styles, the better they can collaborate and work together to achieve common goals.

Improved intercultural communication can also minimize stereotyping, dampening interpersonal relationships and affecting teamwork.

Through effective intercultural communication, each person better understands where their colleagues come from. This understanding can help them tailor their actions and responses to best serve the team’s interests. When everyone has this approach, team projects can go more smoothly.

Productivity and proficiency

Improved intercultural communication helps reduce hangups and misunderstandings, increasing productivity and making training more effective. 

If people can understand each other’s cultural perspectives, it can help minimize miscommunication and possible dissatisfaction. This benefit can cover different workplace processes, such as setting meetings, providing feedback, and developing company policies.

Improved leadership

Company leaders and managers should be at the forefront of implementing better communication practices in a multicultural workplace. The benefits of intercultural communication will also extend to their leadership.

Better understanding amongst team members helps leaders manage the team more effectively. Companies that train leaders in intercultural communication can cultivate a healthier work environment that increases employee engagement and satisfaction.

Global competitiveness

Many modern companies with diverse teams often adopt a more global perspective. Training employees to be sensitive to global perspectives can help a company’s growth when venturing into the international market.

Let’s say a company wishes to extend its operations to another country or region. Having a team that understands that region’s cultural nuances and preferences would reflect more positively on the company. Investors and the general public would likely become more receptive to their brand.

Also Read: How To Create a Culture of Idea Sharing in the Workplace

Challenges in Developing Effective Intercultural Communication

Challenges - intercultural communication

While a culturally diverse workplace has benefits, developing good communication among team members can be challenging. The different cultural backgrounds could present some issues that can hinder effective communication.

Here are some of the main issues companies might encounter when developing effective intercultural communication in the workplace.

Biases and stereotyping

Growing up in a specific place with its own culture can leave people with internal biases against people from other places or backgrounds. This trait can be particularly true if someone lives within a community with little diversity.

As a result, people can develop stereotypes about other people’s values, thoughts, and ways of thinking. While some may believe stereotypes can be harmless, applying them to everyday interactions could damage certain relationships.

Language barriers

Some consider English a universal language, which is valid to an extent. Many companies with multicultural staff often use English as a catch-all language for all communication. However, many people, especially in diverse workplaces, do not have English as a first language.

For this reason, some slang terms might not go over well with non-native speakers. It’s best to stick to traditional English in a professional setting and avoid using slang.

Communication styles

People can have different working cultures and communication styles, which can lead to miscommunication.

Some countries and cultures might emphasize the value of long working hours, while others are more lax and value taking breaks. Some cultures are more impersonal and prefer not to act friendly at work. Others are more personable, even in professional settings.

Customs and social norms

Depending on where you are in the world, the social norms in your area can affect expectations in the workplace. 

Cultures that deeply value hierarchies and honorifics might be stricter and take offense at missteps in showing respect. Employees and bosses are not at the same level and must show deference even in their speech and body language.

Other cultures allow more casual interactions, even in the workplace. An example is people addressing one another by their first names, no matter the job title, or being more open and friendly with coworkers.

Also Read: How to Change Your Organizational Culture

Tips for Developing Effective Intercultural Communication

Tips to bridging cultural gaps

Given the challenges of intercultural communication in the workplace, companies must actively develop strategies to overcome these barriers. Here are some tips companies can follow to aid communication in a diverse workplace environment.

Stay open-minded

Teams can easily resolve communication issues if everyone keeps an open mind. It’s likely that a coworker might say something that feels a little off. 

Before responding negatively and possibly escalating the situation, take a step back and consider the person’s cultural background. Are they being aggressive or simply straightforward? Are they pushing your boundaries or being friendly?

Of course, it’s crucial to remain discerning. Prejudice and harassment aren’t cultural quirks. They are examples of harmful behavior that must be addressed.

Promote cultural understanding

When working in a shared environment, it’s likely that one culture might be more dominant than the others. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with this setup, it might unintentionally alienate employees that don’t belong to that specific culture.

Companies must ensure to celebrate and acknowledge aspects of the different cultures in their workplace. For example, you can educate the entire team on cultural practices and recognize holidays from various cultures. You can apply this arrangement to in-person or remote work setups.

Encourage face-to-face interactions

Face-to-face interactions are often lacking in remote working environments. As a result, employees heavily rely on direct messages and emails to communicate. 

While these methods can effectively communicate work needs, they can be prone to miscommunication. They also aren’t as effective at building positive working relationships.

In-person meetings or video conferencing can help people bond with their teammates better. Putting faces to the names people interact with every workday can make people feel closer and more comfortable with each other. It can also encourage better communication and nurture relationships to help the team thrive.

Promote Workplace Diversity Through Effective Communication

Acknowledging and nurturing workplace diversity is an excellent way to create an engaging and healthy work environment. 

Effective intercultural communication plays a crucial role in handling diverse workplaces. Not only does it make people feel included and understood, but it also helps people do their jobs better, significantly contributing to company growth.

Also Read: The Essential Guide To Employee Productivity In A Hybrid Setup

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What is intercultural communication?

Ans. Intercultural communication is the exchange of information and ideas between people from different cultural backgrounds, encompassing verbal and non-verbal interactions to foster mutual understanding and respect.

Q2. How to improve intercultural communication for businesses?

Ans. To improve intercultural communication for businesses, promote cultural awareness, provide training, encourage open dialogue, respect differences, and adapt communication styles to create a more inclusive and effective working environment.

Q3. Why focus on improving intercultural communication?

Ans. Focusing on improving intercultural communication fosters understanding, reduces misunderstandings, enhances collaboration, and creates a more inclusive and harmonious environment in diverse settings.

Subscribe To The Engagedly Newsletter 

Tips on Communicating better in a Hybrid Work Environment

We’ve all been victims of poor workplace communication. Imagine you’re at work, trying to get your job done, and you realize that someone on your team is just not following instructions. Or maybe it’s not even a coworker who needs help: perhaps it’s you!

Clear workplace communication is crucial to success in hybrid work environments—where distance and time zones can make communication difficult. Here are some tips for getting better at communicating in these situations:

Set clear expectations

Smooth communication in Hybrid Work Environment

The first step to communicating better in a hybrid work environment is setting clear expectations. It would be best if you were clear about what you expect from your team, what you expect from yourself, and what others expect from you.

You can’t do this alone; it requires collaboration and coordination among all parties involved. From entry-level and supervisorial positions to management and C-level posts, smooth, open communication is vital to business success.

But to improve workplace communication, everything should start with setting clear expectations for everyone. Upon establishing this vital step, you can address all other aspects.

If you don’t set clear expectations for everyone, then there will be a lot of confusion about what needs to be done, by whom, and when it needs to happen. It also helps your team members understand their roles within the company’s overall mission and how they fit into this picture.

Also Read: How to Improve Internal Communication in the Workplace

Find the right tools for workplace communication

With around 42% of American workers in a hybrid arrangement, you must find the right tools for communication. Choose a tool that is user-friendly and usable from any device and location.

Using a secure and encrypted tool is also essential to keeping your sensitive data safe. You can use tools like Slack and HipChat to communicate. These tools are easy to use and allow your team members to stay in touch with each other even when they’re not physically together.

It would help if you also considered using a video conferencing tool like Skype or Google Hangouts, which can help you stay connected with your team members even when they are not in the same location.

Use video to bridge the distance

Use video to bridge the distance. With video, you can communicate with people in ways that are more effective than text and less formal than phone calls. Video is personal, so it works well for communicating with shy or introverted people. This setup is excellent for managing remote teams, especially if you have dispersed employees who may want to avoid picking up the phone.

You can also use video as a training tool. You can record yourself or screen record explaining how something works, then send it out via email or share it on Slack, so everyone has access when they need it later on down the line.

Also Read: 10 HR Technology Trends In 2023: Expanding AI, Digitization, and Elevating Hybrid Workplaces

Build a sense of community

Tools for Hybrid Work Environment

Building a sense of community is essential if you work in a hybrid environment. A strong sense of community helps employees develop relationships with each other and enhances their job satisfaction.

The first step toward building a solid company culture is to define what it means to be part of your organization—what makes you unique? Then, use this information to create shared values and goals that will bring people together around common interests (e.g., customer service, eliminate bias in a hybrid workplace).

Upon establishing these elements, it’s time to build face-to-face relationships! We’ve seen companies do this through team bonding activities such as camping trips or bowling nights. You can also host potlucks where employees can bring their families for fun evening activities. These types of events help create stronger bonds between teams.

Schedule regular check-ins with your team

In a hybrid work environment, it’s crucial to keep everyone on the same page. This need can be tricky because there are no physical walls or cubicles to hide behind, so you must ensure that your team knows what’s happening at all times.

Check-ins are an easy way of doing this. They can be informal (like saying “what’s up?” over Slack) or scheduled (like weekly meetings). You should aim for short and sweet check-ins that don’t take up too much time—they should only last five minutes or so.

However, they should be frequent enough that everyone feels in touch with what’s happening across departments and teams within the company and externally.

Have a plan for getting help when you need it

In a hybrid work environment, many things could go wrong. Your computer could crash, your car may break down, and you might even get sick. When these things happen, it’s essential to have a plan to get help when needed.

You must have a solid plan for getting help when needed to ensure all of your team members know the plan and how they can get involved with helping out if necessary. In this way, everyone knows their role when one person can’t do his or her part of the job because something unexpected happened!

Suppose your marketing team uses CRM platforms and communication tools in their work but separately. In a hybrid setup, it is best to have an integrated CRM communication platform to allow for a more seamless and consistent experience for your customers and team members. Choose only the best small business CRM software to achieve this robust integration.

Also Read: How to Build and Sustain Company Culture in a Hybrid Work Environment?

Talk about texts and emails

Texts and Emails for Hybrid Work

You’re going to want to talk about texts and emails. When you do, be respectful as they aren’t a substitute for in-person conversations.

Texts and emails are great tools for communicating quickly and efficiently—but sometimes they can come off as rude or unprofessional if you’re not careful. When discussing texts or emails, ensure that everyone feels they’ve been heard before moving on from an issue.

Invite communities to talk about their experiences

Communities are a great way to get feedback, and you can use them to help build trust and share knowledge. They’re also great for getting inputs on how to improve communication. Communities are a great way to get feedback on what works and doesn’t.

Communities are also an excellent way for you, as an employee or manager in the hybrid environment, to learn from people who have similar experiences working remotely or telecommuting at their jobs.

Get everyone on the same page

When working in a hybrid environment, losing sight of what’s happening outside your bubble can be easy. Your team may have goals that don’t align with those of other groups and departments—and that’s okay! The important thing is ensuring everyone knows individual goals (and how they relate).

As you’re defining your goals, don’t worry about whether or not other people want to achieve the same things as you. For instance, you can initiate ways to support wellness activities with your teams. You can start such a program in your on-premise gym, which can continue even when your employees are in remote work mode.

So be it if they do not share your interests or passions! Keep moving forward with the work at hand until someone else shares your interests and passions.

Also Read: 4 Leadership Skills to Improve in a Hybrid Work Environment

Takeaway: Communicating well is vital to successful hybrid work

Communicating well is critical to successful hybrid work. With clear expectations, a solid plan, the right tools, etc., you and your team can collaborate effectively and keep your work moving forward.

Also, you must be willing to try new things. When you’re working in a hybrid environment, there will always be new challenges that you have not encountered before. If you need help, ask for it! You don’t have to do everything yourself. And if you do, then what’s the point of having a team?

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What is Hybrid Work?

Ans. Hybrid work refers to a work arrangement that allows employees to split their time between working remotely and working from a physical office or other workplace location. This model combines the flexibility of remote work with the benefits of in-person collaboration and communication, providing a more balanced and personalized approach to work that can benefit both employees and organizations.

Q2. Why improve workplace communication?

Ans. Improving workplace communication is essential for several reasons. Effective communication helps build trust and strong relationships among colleagues, leading to better collaboration and teamwork. It also promotes a positive work environment and reduces misunderstandings, conflicts, and errors. Good communication can boost productivity, engagement, and job satisfaction, as employees feel heard and valued. Additionally, it can help organizations achieve their goals, improve customer service, and stay competitive in the market.

Q3. How to improve workplace communication?

Ans. Improving workplace communication can be achieved by following these steps:

  1. Encourage open communication: Create a culture where employees feel comfortable expressing their ideas, concerns, and feedback.
  2. Use different communication channels: Utilize different channels, such as email, chat, phone, and face-to-face meetings, to ensure that information is communicated effectively.
  3. Listen actively: Practice active listening to understand others’ perspectives and respond appropriately.
  4. Provide regular feedback: Give feedback to employees regularly to help them improve their performance and feel valued.
  5. Clarify expectations: Clearly define goals, expectations, and roles to avoid confusion and misunderstandings.
  6. Simplify the message: Use clear and concise language to avoid confusion or misinterpretation.
  7. Lead by example: Encourage leaders to model good communication practices and hold themselves and others accountable.

By following these steps, organizations can create a culture of effective communication that promotes collaboration, productivity, and success.

Get In Touch With Us

How to Improve Internal Communication in the Workplace

Since the Great Resignation, many employees have left jobs that no longer serve their needs or value their effort. One commonality of these inefficient workplaces is poor internal communication, causing confusion, frustration, and stress. When management crosses lines or expectations aren’t properly managed, things get muddied. It can become expensive and exhausting to lose workers to poor communication, so it’s important to consider some easy improvements.

Providing a workspace that communicates effectively and listens to its staff can take a bit of work. Thankfully, this process can be made easier through just a few changes to your business’s dynamic. 

Utilize Specific Communication Methods

Between all of the apps and software available these days for communication, it’s simple to find one that works best for your company. Some popular choices include Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Discord. However, you don’t want to throw too many options at your staff. 

One method will help streamline communication and ensure that nothing becomes lost in translation. Plus, it allows staff to refer back to messages, send media, and even create more informal channels, such as staff wins and pet photos, to build camaraderie.

Also Read: 10 Ways To Improve Communication At Workplace

Reply to Emails Promptly

With a constant influx of emails, it can be difficult to sort through them and respond to everything efficiently. 

However, part of managing your inbox is ensuring communication doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. 

Set aside time each day for emails, especially on projects or answers that require a swift reply. Set reminders for anything that can wait a day or two, and ensure any emails you send have all the information included so that nothing confuses your co-workers.

Pay Attention and Listen

Part of effective communication is active listening. 

It can be quite defeating for staff to feel like their problems aren’t being heard or recognized, or their ideas aren’t valued. Pay attention to what people say and what isn’t being said, such as their body language during meetings and discussions. Create opportunities to listen to feedback, both positive and negative. Perhaps add an anonymous suggestion box or schedule a forum where everyone can share their ideas.

internal communications

Provide Helpful Communication Resources

Apart from communication apps, having project management tools can also build a bridge of contact. These are useful in keeping track of projects, deadlines, and other pertinent information. Instead of employees having to chase down their co-workers to get updates, project management tools help to have a streamlined platform to detail new and old assignments alike. 

You can also use them to send reminders, upload important media, and track working time on a specific task, all in one place.

Plan Meetings for Essential Business

For some, meetings can feel like a waste of time, especially when they don’t have to attend or you could easily convey the information via email. However, knowing you need to cover and collaborate on through a meeting is vital since you don’t want your employees to lose precious working time.

Decide which correspondence needs to be handled face-to-face in a meeting, such as discussing a new project that involves all hands on deck. Otherwise, save your staff a busy day of meetings so they can focus on other business.

Give Clear Expectations

Whether it’s for a certain role or task, giving clear expectations can help internally. It can be frustrating for employees to feel stumped on management expectations, work on the wrong things, or have to ask a supervisor what their role is constantly. Instead, set distinct goals and intentions from the get-go and have it written somewhere for future reference. This documentation will also let them feel open in communicating any potential questions or issues since you have established rapport, and they know to rely on you for precise instruction.

Also Read: The Essential Guide To Employee Productivity In A Hybrid Setup

Allow Open Exchanges

Many bosses and supervisors have an open-door policy that allows staff to feel comfortable approaching them with anything. These discussions can include work concerns or even personal matters causing issues. This type of trust and understanding lets employees feel respected and provides managers insight into their staff’s day-to-day. This trust can be crucial for a business to run smoothly while maintaining a positive internal communication environment.

Encourage Participation and Conversation

In grade school or college, certain activities may have involved participation points. Encourage participation by your employees through various methods. Engaged staff tends to perform better, so providing performance-based feedback, open discussions, and ways to earn perks will help build on your internal workplace communications.

Build on Relationships

One way to build on existing relationships is through team building. Slack channels where you can share memes and other casual correspondence are nice, but what about ways to strengthen those bonds? 

Employees who trust their co-workers will be more likely to communicate openly, so planning a small retreat or after-work event can help. If you’re a remote-based business, plan a day for some activities via Zoom or Skype that teams can participate in, such as puzzles or virtual escape rooms.

Also Read: Employee Engagement Activities That Your Employees Will Love

Host Periodic Check-Ins

Sharing with your employees the latest goings-on and happenings is important. Are there any updates they need? What about positive outcomes from recent projects? 

Hosting periodic check-ins, whether weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, can be a consistent gathering to fill everyone in. These check-ins don’t have to be overly formal or take up much of the work day. 

A weekly email can help loop everyone in on announcements, upcoming events, or other information to provide open communication.


There are many ways to improve internal communication at your workplace, and while you may not need to overhaul your current methods entirely, you should at least consider the above list on where to start. Technology is one area that can certainly help, between communication apps, project management tools, and performance management

Other practices involve active listening, open communication policies, and relationship building. So how will you use these to focus on enhancing your company’s communication?

internal communications