Boundary Spanning


When communicating with an international audience, adopt your level of directness to the norms of the particular culture.  Some cultures, such as Germany, Sweden, and the U.S.A., have a more direct communication style.  This directness may prove insulting to cultures where more subtle communication is the norm, such as Korea, Mexico or Latin American countries.

So what?

Intercultural misunderstandings can easily result when these differences are not understood.  Effective communicators are aware of cultural differences and make the necessary modifications in their communication.


Learn the interpersonal communication conventions when dealing with your international partners.  For examples, if your proposal is met with silence in Japan, it does not necessarily mean that the audience doesn’t like your idea; it can also mean that the customer is deliberating and thinking.  In fact, speaking too quickly can be perceived by the Japanese as being impatient and having poor negotiating skills.

So what?

Norms of accepted behaviors are deeply woven into a culture.  People from the culture may not even be aware of those conventions.  Americans, for example, are often unaware that they are perceived as being overly talkative by some Europeans.  Effective communicators are aware of how they may be sending unintended or inappropriate messages.


Forge alliances with other departments that are critical to your success. A starting point might be to ask for a tour of the other departments or hold a “show and tell” session where the various departments share their “work-in-progress”.

So what?

65% of organizations experience major interdepartmental communication problems. People who effectively work across organizational boundaries increase the probability of their department’s and organization’s success because they are able to limit misunderstandings and encourage cooperative problem-solving.