How to improve cross-cultural communication in the workplace

It’s no secret that effective communication is central to the success of any organization, regardless of industry. But in order to truly understand what it takes to communicate effectively, you must first understand the different cultural factors that influence the way people interact with one another.

Our world is more interconnected than ever before, a fact that has given rise to many changes in the ways that businesses and organizations operate. Workplaces are more diverse, remote teams are scattered across the country or around the world, and businesses that once sold products to a single demographic might now sell to a global market. All of these factors have converged to make cross-cultural communication a vital part of organizational success.

Here’s a look at why cross-cultural communication is important in the workplace, and the steps you can take to overcome cultural barriers and improve communication within your organization.

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2018-19 ePortfolio honorees recognized at 1st Annual Showcase

The 1st Annual ePortfolio Showcase was held on Monday, October 28th at The Cabral Center on campus. The event, attended by more than 50 students, alumni, and faculty, recognized the top 4 ePortfolio ‘authors’ for 2018-19: Josh Gelinas, Jessica Kline, Jingyi Lyu, Liz McCarthy.

Dr. Ed Powers

Dr. Ed Powers kicked off the ceremony, providing an overview of the ePortfolio program and how it has evolved as a central feature of the Corporate and Organizational Communication master’s program at Northeastern. The honorees were selected by a panel of members of our Alumni Advisory Council.

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How to leverage your ePortfolio after graduation

When I first heard I would have to complete an ePortfolio as part of my program at Northeastern, I wasn’t sure if it would be valuable to me. It instead felt like any effort I put into it would be duplicative of the effort I was putting into my LinkedIn profile and resume. I was working full-time while trying to balance school and other priorities, so it was hard for me to even figure out when I’d have time for this.

I also felt like the ePortfolio would only be valuable for someone looking for a job – something I had no plans of doing because I was already comfortably employed. Well, now being on the other side of my degree, I am so happy I had and still have this ePortfolio.

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Collaborative leadership: What it is and why it’s important

As the professional world continues to develop and change, the way executives within organizations manage their teams has needed to evolve with it.

In the past, leaders often worked in silos, handling only the tasks that fell directly under their domain. Today, however, managers are leaning on collaborative leadership methods as a means of embracing innovation and meeting their organization’s unique goals.

Read on to learn what collaborative leadership means, what trends are making it so essential, and how you can embrace this method in your workplace today.

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What does it take to be a Chief Communication Officer? The sequel.

A couple of years ago, we posted the results of research that showed how the role of the Chief Communication Officer (CCO) has evolved during our era of digital disruption. While not many of us will work our way to the CCO level, we know that these rising expectations will ripple down to communicators at all levels.

That’s why a recent survey of more than 200 communication leaders conducted by Page, a global professional association for senior public relations and corporate communications executives and educators, is of such importance.

The survey results, titled The CCO as Pacesetter | What It Means, Why It Matters, How to Get There, identifies four areas of emphasis: brand stewardship, organizational culture, societal value creation, and digital capabilities. Take a look at the summaries of these four areas.

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Faculty Spotlight: Ed Powers

Ed Powers, Professor of the Practice for the MS in Corporate and Organizational Communication program, is an experienced corporate communications executive with a strong base in adult learning and curriculum development.

Ed PowersHe began teaching at Northeastern University’s College of Professional Studies on a part-time basis in 2008 and joined as a full-time faculty member in 2017. During his time at Northeastern, he has taught courses in 10 topic areas and was the architect for the Public and Media Relations concentration.

During his thirty-year career in the industry, Ed gained experience in nearly every facet of corporate communications, working for companies in half-a-dozen industries and serving as the chief communications officer for several billion-dollar organizations.

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Fitting into a workplace in another culture

How do stereotypes influence our behavior at work? Are our instincts accurate? A recent article in the online magazine Swissinfo described some of the challenges, large and small, amusing and potentially embarrassing, of working as an ‘incomer’ in a Swiss company. Would you expect to be formal with Swiss colleagues? Think deadlines are important? Expect consensus must be reached in meetings? For those of us in communication roles, deciphering the cultural cues and office codes is especially critical. As my colleague, Patty Goodman, often reminds me, we need to be aware of our biases, keen observers, and learn as much as we can about cultural values.

So what are the answers to the questions posed in the Swissinfo article?

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Why career development should always be top of mind

Are you happy with your current job? Actively seeking another opportunity? Starting from scratch? It doesn’t matter. Career development should be a priority for each of us. Every day. Here’s why.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average person changes jobs 6 times after the age of 24, and the median employee tenure in a job is about 4 years. So change is a constant in our professional landscape.

Moreover, those of us in communication-related jobs are experiencing first-hand the effects of digital disruption: New communication technologies emerging every day; shifting stakeholder expectations; Artificial Intelligence looming on the horizon.

In this sort of turbulent environment, career development is one thing we have control over. This entails learning new skills, staying on top of trends, and – yes – continuing education. Expanding our professional networks should also be part of every career development plan. A visit to Northeastern’s Employer Engagement and Career Design website shows how you can bolster your networks.

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How to answer the “Why do you want this job?”​ interview question

This question usually comes early on in the interview, often being used by the interviewer as an icebreaker. It’s considered one of the easier interview questions, but there’s definitely a right way to answer it.

Although this is meant as an easy question, there are a few things you’ll need to include:

1.   Your core messages – why you’re qualified/how you can benefit the company. If you’re not sure what I mean by this, I’ll explain more below.

2.   The reason the role excites you

3.   The fact that you understand the job

4.   The fact that you want this job, not just any job at the company

5.   The way the job connects to your career plan

6.   The fact that you intend to stay in the job for awhile

You can see that even though this isn’t meant as a complicated question, it has some elements that you might want to brainstorm about before your interview.

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7 crisis communication tips every organization should master

Mere weeks after Samsung unveiled its Galaxy Note 7, reports surfaced of the smartphone catching fire. Within a month of the device’s launch, the company recalled 2.5 million Note 7s, citing faulty batteries as the cause of the crisis.

What started as a manufacturing mishap quickly escalated into a public relations (PR) nightmare. With customers’ safety at stake, all eyes were on Samsung, which didn’t take full responsibility of the flaw for more than three months after the phone’s recall. The company’s mobile division experienced a 96 percent drop in operating profit as negative headlines continued to emerge, including airlines prohibiting passengers from bringing the phone on flights.

What happened to Samsung could happen to any company; several other brands have faced recalls. For example, Johnson & Johnson pulled its Tylenol products from shelves in 1982 after seven people died in the Chicago area, and Hasbro halted sales in 2007 of its Easy Bake Oven after reports of the toy badly burning children.

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