Finding My Place in the Cross-Cultural Communication Field
It was three years ago that my career gained what I thought was to be my launch into the global market. After graduating from college and achieving my dream job of working at a huge corporation in Tokyo, the unexpected occurred. Within six months, I quit and moved back to my home country, the USA.
Deciding to leave so quickly shocked not only my community, but also myself. I had spent four years learning about Japanese language and culture. Having studied abroad, researched, and interned in Japan. I had braced myself for expected sexism in the workplace, strong drinking culture, and even power harassment. However, the one thing that was I had not prepared for was my own lack of cultural agility.
Despite knowing what the Japanese perspective might be, I found myself defining right and wrong. I would often deem Japanese corporate culture to be unhealthy for its collective mindset, in contrast to my valuing individuality and freedom as someone raised in the USA. When I ended up leaving Japan to pursue a career in cross-cultural communication, I came away from the experience subconsciously wanting to fix Japan. I had a vision and a strategic plan; next steps were to gain the tools.
In her blog, alumna Stacy Raine, CPS’17, shares her perspectives on many issues facing communicators, especially those working in the non-profit sector.
In her most recent post, she discusses communication with donors during the coronavirus pandemic and makes several excellent suggestions.
I couldn’t agree more with Stacy: “We’re all in this together, helping each other get through a very tough time. I keep hearing that we need to “be human” together, and I couldn’t agree more. Be human, focus on helping people get through this crisis through providing opportunities to connect and learn, and build engagement with your donors.”
There were two defining moments that led me to create Destination Nature, a three-episode podcast series for The Nature Conservancy (TNC). The first was when I watched my friend and colleague give an update about his science to a group of Nature Conservancy supporters as we stood on an Atchafalaya riverbank in southern Louisiana. The leaves were rustling, the birds were calling – the sounds were painting such a vivid picture around us as we listened to him talk about what TNC is achieving there. I wished every supporter could hear it.
The next was when I was driving home with my young son one day, and I decided to play an episode of TED Radio Hour called Everything is Connected. It was a show about nature, and as we listened, Yellowstone National Park began to appear in front of us. We heard the sounds of wolves howling, of birds singing, of rivers running, of beavers eating, of ducks calling, of bears growling. I glanced in the rear-view mirror and what I saw was profound. My son was no longer in the car with me. He was a thousand miles away, in Yellowstone National Park.
I appreciated the many opportunities available while I studied at Northeastern University. As the Head Student Life Coordinator for NU Global International Pathways Program, I was responsible for event operations. In my last semester in the Corporate and Organizational Communications program (COC), I coordinated one of the biggest events and collaborations between NU Global International Pathways and the Office of Global Services — Global Voice II.
“Innovation cuts across all sectors of life and all aspects of a company,” says Tucker Marion, chair of the entrepreneurship and innovation programs within Northeastern’s D’Amore McKim School of Business. For this reason, organizations—and even individuals who innovate effectively—have the potential to make an impact on the landscape of their industry, just by being willing to take risks and learn from their mistakes.
While Marion says individuals should feel motivated to hone their innovation skills through training, he also acknowledges that a few common qualities exist among those who have already embraced innovation in their lives and workplaces. Below we explore six common qualities that effective innovators share.
Communication is the fire that fuels the workplace engine. It is difficult to overstate just how important communication can be to a successful organization.
Case-in-point: A recent survey of 400 companies conducted by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) revealed that, on average, each company lost $62.4 million per year due to inadequate communication.
“In an era when Artificial Intelligence and other digital technologies are changing the way organizations operate, communication skills will become even more vital to strengthening relationships and promoting collaboration and adaptability,” says Carl Zangerl, faculty director for the communication and human resource management programs within Northeastern’s College of Professional Studies.
Companies in the U.S. spent nearly $200 billion on marketing in 2019, putting immense resources towards developing strategies to communicate with potential customers and crafting and distributing the perfect messages. Few spend the same resources on considering how to best communicate with their employees—and it’s costing them.
About 70 percent of employees in the U.S. feel disengaged at work, and fewer than 30 percent believe in the brand that employs them, according to Gallup. This leads people to quit and seek out more fulfilling work, and Glassdoor reports that companies spend an average of $4,000 on recruiting, hiring, and onboarding each replacement. By helping employees feel more connected to their companies through thoughtful internal communication, organizations can create an open, collaborative culture that drives both retention and productivity.
Want to refresh your knowledge about key communication concepts, or sample some lectures and readings in a new subject area? The Office of Alumni Relations, in partnership with Northeastern University’s Graduate Programs, makes it easy. Just click here to access an archive of on-demand programs.
In this Q&A, Dr. Ed Powers, Professor of Practice and PR pro, discusses the launch of a new model for learning about PR research, strategy, and tactics: the Virtual PR Firm.
Q: What’s it all about?
A: It’s the next level in experiential learning for our students. Our virtual firm looks and feels just like a small public relations agency. Through it we are integrating our public relations coursework with six-month projects covering six months for real-life clients. And the students will perform the client work using a leading marketing software tool. The purpose is to have students ready for PR jobs that are in demand in the marketplace. Continue reading “Our Virtual PR Firm takes experiential learning to a new level”
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.