Think Global: How to Overcome Cultural Communication Challenges


In today’s workplace, our colleagues may not be located in the same office, city, or even country. A growing number of tech companies have a global workforce comprised of employees with varied experiences and perspectives. This diversity allows companies to compete in the rapidly evolving technological environment.

But geographically dispersed teams can face challenges. Managing and maintaining high-performing development teams is difficult even when the members are co-located; when team members come from different backgrounds and locations, that makes it even harder. Communication can deteriorate, misunderstandings can happen, and teams may stop trusting each other—all of which can affect the success of the company.

What factors can cause confusion in global communication? In her book, “The Culture Map,” Erin Meyer presents eight scales into which all global cultures fit. We can use these scales to improve our relationships with international colleagues. She identifies the United States as a very low-context culture in the communication scale. In contrast, Japan is identified as a high-context culture.