Recently, I got the opportunity to read an article “Cross- Cultural Differences in Management” by Tagreed Issa Kawar. The author articulates well about how culture and communication can’t be treated separately as they are ‘inseparable’. The article further outlines the concept of cultural intelligence (including ‘interpersonal intelligence’) and the dimensions of cultural values. Can we build a culture of responsiveness when communication is not two-way?
This article makes me wonder about the ‘responsive’ element in communication and its role in culture. What kind of cultural values get learnt within a team, society and/or organization when the ‘responsive’ element is missing?. I have seen many people including working professionals, leaders, practitioners and academicians lacking this ‘being responsive’ factor during communication. Maybe the principle ‘silence is golden’ is followed or an assumption is made that the sender will telepathically understand the motive behind not responding!
The ‘silence’ communication doesn’t have a defined context or a defined situation. It occurs anytime and anywhere in any form of interaction (interpersonal or intrapersonal). When a team member asks a recipient (another member) for any kind of help, question or request (including the request to share a referral’s contact details), there could be a silence! When there is no response for a day or three (at the max!), the sender has to perceive during this period that the recipient is busy. What happens when ‘no response’ continues for a week or two? Can a culture of trust, openness and transparency be established?
When a leader in a team chat, email or meeting doesn’t respond to a question, concern or request, what tone of culture is being set within the team or organization? Is there a possibility that members within the team/project/organization will learn and model the behaviors of the leader (as mentioned in my previous article)? How can a culture of openness and trust be created when ‘silence’ behavior percolates in day-to-day operations? When this important element is missing in communication, will collaboration succeed?
I think that the culture of responsiveness in communication sets the wheel of trust, openness/transparency and integrity in motion even though the response for help is a ‘no’. How can we harness this culture of responsiveness in our day-to-day communication? Could it be through coaching, social intelligence awareness, or any other constructive mechanism)?
What other aspects or factors (in addition to openness) exist in creating the culture of trust and integrity in communication? Feel free to share your thoughts, experiences and good practices we need to adopt to create a from-to cultural shift in communication.
Author: V Lakshmi Chirravuri