When I first begin helping my clients adapt how they communicate for an intercultural business context, whether for a report or a presentation, the first concern they often express is that they do not have enough to say. In my experience, that is hardly ever the problem. In fact, the most fundamental problem we all face when we communicate interculturally is that we have too much to say within the time we are given to say it.
It is not news to anyone that the pace of business is faster today than ever. These days meetings, video conferences, emails, text messages and phone calls are given less and less time. The overwhelm that’s felt is due not only to this time pressure but also to the inability to fit the habitual way of communicating into the new time frames and forms. So you have to adapt your cultural way of communicating not only to the new intercultural English-speaking context in which you find yourself; you also have to adapt to the accelerating pace, as well as to new types of communication technologies. But where have any of us learned to do that?
Everyone is doing their best in a very predictable way: the way they learned to communicate in their personal, cultural and professional past. In short, we have all learned to communicate in some other time and place. But is that a fit for the intercultural present?