Importance of Cross Cultural Communication in Business

by Nicole Papa - Updated September 26, 2017
Cross cultral communication in business requires observation and knowledge.

As the business world becomes increasingly global, the need for effective cross cultural communication is essential. Cross cultural communication in business plays a vital role in building international customers, employee relations and business partnerships. Cross cultural communication in business requires effort, technique and the addressing of different hurdles that commonly prevent communication from being effective.


Cross cultural communication is defined by Gotland University as “a process of exchanging, negotiating, and mediating one's cultural differences through language, non-verbal gestures, and space relationships.” Business communication is the exchange of messages related to companies through symbols, action and verbal words.


Cross cultural communication in business plays a vital role in successfully establishing the product or service in a different area of the globe. When the communication is effective, the product or service is appropriately tailored to the cultural norms and expectations resulting in the use or purchase of the product. Ineffective communication cross culturally can offend, confuse or send a misunderstood message which could lead to broken relations with investors or employees.

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Barriers – Language

A common cross cultural barrier in business communication is the use of language. Not every business globally does business in English. Even if they do, there can be different meanings for the same English word. According to the website of business communication group Kwintessential, language barriers come in the form of either the use of inappropriate language or the use of foreign languages.

Barriers – Culture

Each culture has a different set of values, business ethics, languages, behavior, expected etiquette and expression. Not knowing the differences in the country that the company is doing business in can lead to communication barriers that prohibit the messages from being effective.

Barriers – Company Culture

A company culture is the norms and expectations within a company. This can be the organizational structure, policies and specific procedures that create a unique culture within the company. Expanding business communication cross culturally requires the business to assess its current culture and identify any possible hindrances that the company culture may present in a different country.


According to the University of Colorado, knowledge is the key to effective cross cultural business communication. Knowledge takes a step back and observes the differences between the two cultures and makes adjustments based on the observation. One approach to ensuring the cross cultural communication is being effective is to implement active listening that uses questions to clarify the message.

About the Author

Nicole Papa has been a freelance writer since 2004 with a focus on SEO and Internet marketing. She has written for and JOLT! Marketing. She graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor of Arts in mass media communications, and from the University of Texas with an associate degree in theater performance.

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