When considering cross-cultural communication the servant leader concept comes to mind in that the servant leader puts the need of the follower first. The same general philosophy can improve most communication, including the cross-cultural variety. Servant leaders and therefore servant communicators must be willing to suspend their need for control (Marquardt & Berger, 2000) and be open to a wide variety of disparate communicative techniques and processes. In a general sense Westerners are good verbal communicators whereas Easterners are good at the nonverbal; the challenge is for each to learn the skill of the other (Rosen, 2000). To do this requires listening yet even this has its barriers as each culture listens for cues familiar and relevant to their specific national culture.
It is all about context; probably the most important cultural dimension and the most difficult to define. It refers to the entire array of stimuli surrounding every communication event (Hall & Hall, 1989). How does an individual regardless of culture become a multi-contextual communicator? In many ways globalization as fueled by the Internet is helping with this problem through the creation of “third” or hybrid identities resulting from the intercultural flows that the Internet makes possible (Ess & Sudweeks, 2006). In other words, since no culture is so unfamiliar or distinct from another as might have been the case 100 years ago the ability to overcome differences in time orientation, contextual factors of space, even when silence is appropriate or not can be overcome more readily. The primary concept to remember is that no two people have the same communicative background, to that extent all communication is cross-cultural (Tannen, 1984). However, if one desires to lead and serve others they will learn to communicate regardless of the barriers.
Ess, C., & Sudweeks, F. (2006). Culture and computer‐mediated communication: Toward new understandings. Journal of Computer‐Mediated Communication, 11(1), 179-191.
Hall Edward, T., & Hall, M. R. (1989). Understanding cultural differences: Germans, French and Americans. Yarmouth: Intercultural Press.
Marquardt, M. J., & Berger, N. O. (2000). Global leaders for the 21st century. Albany: SUNY Press.
Rosen, R. H. (2000). Global literacies: Lessons on business leadership and national cultures. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Tannen, D. (1984). The pragmatics of cross-cultural communication. Applied Linguistics, 5(3), 189-195.