Have you ever struggled to plan an event with people from different cultural backgrounds? This situation isn’t uncommon and results from cultural differences in communication.

Cultures that communicate explicitly include those in Germany, Switzerland, the countries of Scandinavia and the United States. In the context of these cultures, plans are typically set clearly and plainly, using words.

The downside of such communication is that a message must contain all the necessary information so there can be communication at all. This can slow things down, as messages are long and complex.

Other cultures, however, rely more on implicit communication. This means that a lot of communicated information is embedded in context and the body language of the people involved.

In Asian cultures, people are on the lookout for verbal symbols or physical gestures as part of the conversation.

The internet and modern technology have opened up new marketplaces that allow us to promote our businesses to new geographic locations and cultures. And given that it can now be as easy to work with people remotely as it is to work face-to-face, cross-cultural communication is increasingly the new norm.

Spend time on face-to-face relationship building before switching to virtual communication, and make sure to include all team members in decision making at all stages of the project. Once you’ve identified the cultural differences that could lead to any miscommunications or misunderstandings, find common ground and decide how you want to work together.

As with any aspect of business, things are made easier with good communication. Although this can be daunting when dealing with colleagues from different cultural backgrounds, it’s important to educate yourself and your employees about how to approach any potentially delicate situations.