Breaking Global Communication Barriers
Overcoming Communication Challenges to Foster Meaningful Connections and More Persuasive Relationships
Breaking the Barriers: Overcoming Global Communication Challenges to Foster Meaningful Connections and More Persuasive Relationships.
Embracing global business relationships and the economy is crucial in business because it opens up opportunities for growth, diversification, and access to a broader pool of resources and talent. But as the world becomes increasingly connected, the need for thoughtful and effective communication has become more critical than ever.
My clients and I have been giving a great deal of thought about the following questions:
How can businesses effectively navigate differences in time zones and work schedules when communicating with partners and clients in different regions, and what tools and technologies can they use to ensure timely and efficient communication?
How can businesses effectively manage the challenges and risks associated with translation issues, such as mistranslations or cultural nuances lost in translation, when communicating with partners and clients in different regions, and what strategies can be employed to ensure accurate and effective communication?
How can businesses effectively navigate differences in communication styles, such as the use of nonverbal communications and direct versus indirect language issues, in order to avoid misunderstandings and build strong relationships with partners and clients across different regions?
And last but not least,
In what ways can businesses leverage technology including AI, the metaverse, video conferencing and messaging, and other digital solutions, to improve cross-cultural communication and engagement with partners and clients around the world, and what are the risks and challenges associated with these approaches?
Let’s Get Started
As the senior partner in a law firm and consulting agency with clients from all around the world, I have witnessed firsthand the vital role that communication plays in building successful relationships and brands. Whether you are an entrepreneur looking to expand your business globally or a multinational corporation seeking to strengthen your market position across multiple regions, mastering effective communication is essential to achieving your goals. At the same time, it's important to recognize the challenges of dealing with different time zones, languages, and cultural norms.
To succeed in this globalized economy, it is essential to understand the nuances of communication and to be able to navigate the problems that come with communicating across borders. In today's newsletter, we will explore different ways you and your team can master effective communication in a global economy. By understanding these approaches and applying the insights and strategies discussed, you can improve your communication skills, build stronger relationships, and achieve greater success in a global economy.
By the way, I have no financial affiliation with any of the companies or services I reference in this article. My disclaimer always applies and please always do your own due diligence.
Time zones can be the bane of our existence, but they are a necessary evil. With people located on different sides of the world, it can be challenging to communicate and hold meetings.
Mastering time zone issues is essential in today's global economy because it allows for effective communication and collaboration across borders, which is necessary for building successful relationships and brands. Failure to properly manage time zones can result in scheduling conflicts, missed opportunities, and a breakdown in communication, all of which can negatively impact relationships, reputation and business opportunities.
With all of this in mind, there are strategies that work for us and which can make connecting and scheduling less of a hassle. Here are three specific approaches and services that work for us and should work for you too.
Scheduling Email: When we send an email to a different time zone, we usually will use the scheduling feature so that the email is sent and received 10 minutes after our client opens for business regardless of where they are located. Respecting the client’s time zone and then leveraging the delivery of a message at the beginning versus the end of the day seems to have gone a long way to positive client interactions.
So for example, if we want a client in Perth, Australia, to receive a new email in her inbox at 9:10 am on Thursday, we would schedule the email to be sent from our Southern California office at 5 pm on Wednesday. This email can be drafted hours or days before we want to send it, and our team then simply schedules it to be sent at the 5 pm PST time.
We also use the following tools to schedule calls and online meetings taking the above into consideration. More are running in open tabs all day long.
By the way, when we take on a new international client, we adopt the mindset and agree to make ourselves available for calls and videos before and after normal California work hours. We want to provide an exemplary and frictionless client experience and being flexible with international clients is part of representing international clients.
Here are several resources that help us do all of the above easily and quickly.
World Time Buddy: This platform allows you to quickly compare different time zones and schedule meetings accordingly. With a simple interface and calendar integration, it makes scheduling meetings a breeze. https://www.worldtimebuddy.com/
Calendly: This scheduling software allows you to set up availability times for different time zones, so that people can easily book a meeting with you without having to do the time zone conversion themselves. https://calendly.com/
Gmail: We use gmail templates in already to go in different languages and the gmail scheduling feature to do what I described above. It’s easy and saves us lots of time. https://gmail.com
What we’ve found is that with these time zone communication and scheduling tools, you can seamlessly communicate with people located in different time zones without feeling like you're constantly checking your calendar and clock.
Have you ever been on a business call or video with a potential client and you don’t speak each other’s language? Or maybe you're trying to communicate with a colleague in another country who doesn't speak your language?
Mastering language translation issues is essential in a global economy because it allows individuals and businesses to communicate with people who speak different languages, thereby opening up new markets, opportunities, and relationships. Failure to properly manage language translation issues can result in misunderstandings, miscommunications, and missed opportunities, which can be detrimental to business success.
Clients appreciate it when you take the time to communicate and send documents in their native language. Here are three services that can help you translate documents and communications quickly:
Google Translate: This free online tool allows you to translate your voice along with text, documents, signs, menus and even websites into more than 100 languages. It's quick, easy, and can save you a lot of time and inconvenience. We use it daily. https://translate.google.com/
ChatGPT: As an AI-powered language model, ChatGPT can help you translate text and even have real-time conversations in different languages. It's like having a personal translator in your pocket. https://openai.com/
Telephone and Zoom Translations: Services like HelloGlobo allow you to dial a number and have a translator facilitate the call or Zoom during the call. More and more of these services are not only offering live operator translation services, but also incorporating digital AI based options within their platforms. https://www.helloglobo.com/
Waygo: We use the Google Translate app for this but several clients insist we try this app. Apparently it allows you to translate signs and menus by taking pictures with your phone. It's perfect for traveling or when you're in a foreign country and don't know the language. http://www.waygoapp.com/
Slatch: We’re also keeping our eyes on services like Slatch and Speechtrans that are early real time messaging apps/services with instant translation. More are rolling out monthly. Take a look here. https://www.slatch.io/ and https://speechtrans.com/
With these translation services, you can now communicate with anyone in the world, as easily as the neighbor next door, regardless of the language they speak.
Communication is not just about what we say but also about how we say it. Non-verbal communication, such as body language and gestures, can also vary widely between cultures and regions of the world.
Mastering international non-verbal communication issues is important in today's global economy because different cultures communicate non-verbally in different ways, and failing to understand these differences can lead to misunderstandings, cultural faux-pas, and even offense. By mastering international non-verbal communication issues, individuals and businesses can avoid these issues and communicate more effectively with people from diverse cultural backgrounds.
It's essential to understand these differences to communicate effectively. Here are three resources that can help you navigate these differences:
Culture Crossing Book: This book is a comprehensive resource that provides information on cultural differences and customs for different countries and regions of the world. It offers valuable insights into how different cultures communicate, including how to properly address people, how to show respect, and how to avoid cultural faux pas.
For example, did you know that to communicate effectively in China, it’s important to address people with their formal titles. Were you aware that avoiding direct eye contact is seen as disrespectful. Similarly, in the Middle East, it's important to avoid using the left hand, which is considered unclean, and to dress modestly, especially for women. With the Culture Crossing book, businesses can learn how to communicate more effectively with people from different cultures, avoiding misunderstandings and building stronger relationships. You can find more information at https://culturecrossing.net/book
How to Read People Like a Book: This is a compelling read that teaches you everything you need to learn about reading other people’s body language, learning their motivations, and uncovering their true intentions so you can foster deeper, more authentic relationships — anytime, anywhere! Get it on Amazon.
Dictionary of Gestures: Expressive Comportments and Movements in Use around the World: Gestures convey meaning with a flourish. A vigorous nod of the head, a bold jut of the chin, an enthusiastic thumbs-up: all speak louder than words. Yet the same gesture may have different meanings in different parts of the world. What Americans understand as the “A-OK gesture,” for example, is an obscene insult in the Arab world.
This volume is the reference book we didn't know we needed―an illustrated dictionary of 850 gestures and their meanings around the world. It catalogs voluntary gestures made to communicate openly―as distinct from sign language, dance moves, involuntary “tells,” or secret handshakes―and explains what the gesture conveys in a variety of locations. It is organized by body part, from top to bottom, from head (nodding, shaking, turning) to foot (scraping, kicking, playing footsie). Also on Amazon.
With these resources, you can now better understand how different cultures communicate in non verbal ways and be more effective in your communication.
Technology and Digital Platforms:
The metaverse is the new frontier in the world of communication. It's a virtual world where regardless of where they’re located, people can engage with each other, communicate, and do business efficiently and effectively.
Learning how to use and embrace the metaverse is important in a global economy because it offers new opportunities for communication, collaboration, and branding. The metaverse eliminates the limitations of physical space, allowing individuals and businesses to connect and interact with people from all over the world, regardless of location or time zone. By embracing the metaverse, individuals and businesses can expand their reach, increase accessibility, and stand out in a crowded marketplace.
Some benefits of doing business around the world in the metaverse are:
Increased accessibility: With the metaverse, you can connect with anyone in the world regardless of their physical location.
Reduced costs: The metaverse eliminates the need for expensive travel, office space, and other resources, making it a cost-effective solution for businesses.
Enhanced branding: The metaverse allows businesses to create unique digital experiences that can help them stand out and build their brand.
Two exciting examples of companies using the metaverse include:
Nike is using the metaverse to create virtual showrooms where customers can browse and purchase their products. These showrooms are designed to provide an immersive and personalized shopping experience that allows customers to interact with products in a way that is not possible in a traditional brick-and-mortar store.
Customers can explore different product lines, try on virtual shoes and apparel, and even see how the products perform in different environments. Nike's use of the metaverse not only enhances the customer experience but also allows the company to reach a broader audience, regardless of location or time zone. More here.
Jackson and Wilson Inc.
The internet, much less the metaverse, wasn’t around when we opened our doors back in 1986. Today, we’re using the Spatial platform, along with its beautiful free and paid templates, to meet with clients in beautiful virtual offices and conference rooms while creating new memorable experiences. If you want to see what our virtual corporate office spaces are like, stop by and take a look at our corporate campus here and our after hours ski chalet here. Other venues can be found here.
There are many reasons why we enjoy the Spatial platform. The quality of community and digital assets is exemplary and the conference rooms, presentation venues, and spaces like our firm’s corporate offices are exactly the kind of product and image we want to deliver to our potential and existing clients. Clients can meet with us using their phone, tablet, laptop, desktop or headset.
Another benefit with Spatial is the real time chat translation. We can meet with a client who doesn’t speak English and have a real time conversation with translated chat windows floating above our avatars. It’s a nice feature and I’m told more communication tools are on the way. Connect with me on Spatial here.
AI and ChatGPT Type Services
Artificial intelligence is changing the way we communicate and do business, and ChatGPT is one of the most exciting developments in this field. ChatGPT is an AI-powered language model that can help businesses communicate more effectively with their customers and clients.
As an example, I’m based out of California and am getting ready to travel to and meet with a new client based out of Florence, Italy.
I asked ChatGPT:
"What are 5 specific cultural differences in body language and nonverbal communication between the United States and Italy and how can I be more aware of these differences in my interactions with clients in Italy?"
Here’s what ChatGPT responded with:
#1: Personal space: Italians tend to stand closer to others than Americans do, and may touch or gesture more frequently during conversation.
#2: Gestures: While hand gestures are common in both cultures, some gestures may have different meanings. For example, the "okay" sign (thumb and forefinger forming a circle) may be seen as offensive in Italy.
#3: Eye contact: In Italy, direct eye contact is generally considered a sign of respect and attentiveness, while avoiding eye contact may be interpreted as a lack of interest or trust.
#4: Touch: Italians are generally more comfortable with physical touch, such as handshakes, hugs, or cheek kisses, when greeting or saying goodbye.
#5: Facial expressions: Italians may use more exaggerated facial expressions to convey emotion than Americans, and may also display a wider range of emotions during conversation.
This information could be useful right?
Here are a few more general prompts. Again, be specific with the country and use follow up prompts like, “Now give me 5 specific examples.”
"How can I use language translation tools like ChatGPT to more effectively communicate with clients who speak different languages, and what are some best practices for using these tools to ensure accuracy and clarity?"
"What are some common misunderstandings or miscommunications that can arise when working with clients from different cultures, and how can I proactively address these issues to ensure effective communication and build strong relationships with clients from diverse backgrounds?"
Synthesia: The avatar video creation service allows you to easily create content in 120 different languages. It’s easy to use and very cost effective. We use it weekly. https://www.synthesia.io/
D-id: This is another AI avatar generation program. We take profile pictures or generate avatar facial images in Midjourney and upload to create videos. Here’s an example below. Keep in mind this technology is just getting started. Imagine how good it will be in one or two years. The service is here https://www.d-id.com/
Zoom: Everyone knows Zoom and it’s the “go to” video service for most of us. Several underutilized features of this platform include the integration of apps allowing for real time translation and the ability to record conversations and then have a service translate the conversation after the fact. https://zoom.com
Two services that play nice with Zoom Otter and Interprefy. Remember, you can also take your transcripts and copy/paste into Google Translate for a quick translation. Links are https://www.interprefy.com/ and https://otter.ai/
WhatsApp and Signal: Of course I’m going to conclude with the point to point encrypted communication apps Signal and WhatsApp. Most of our clients around the world communicate in these apps more than they make phone calls or send emails. Set up an account in each app and start leveraging the text, photo, phone and video features to have easy and fast conversations with your global contacts. See https://signal.org and https://whatsapp.com
Effective communication is key to building successful relationships and brands in today's global economy. By mastering time zones, translation, non-verbal communication, and leveraging the power of technology, you can easily overcome the challenges of distance, language and diversity and achieve your business goals more efficiently and effectively.
What challenges have you faced in your communication processes, and how have you overcome them? Have you tried any of the approaches and services I’ve mentioned in this issue? What are your favorite apps and services that would add value to this topic?
Please let our community know in the comments or via our new Substack chat (see below).
Also, please feel free to share this newsletter with anyone who could benefit from these insights and resources.
One More Thing…
I’ve rolled out a new subscriber Substack chat service
Please join my Substack subscriber chat service. This is a private space for all of us to converse and connect.
This is a conversation space in the Substack app that I set up exclusively for my subscribers — kind of like a group chat or live hangout. I’ll post short prompts, thoughts, and updates that come my way, and you can jump into the discussion.
It’s new and we’re just getting started but I like the concept and will be using chat to dive deeper on issues discussed in each newsletter.
To join our chat, you’ll need to download the Substack app, now available for both iOS and Android. Chats are sent via the app, not email, so turn on push notifications so you don’t miss conversation as it happens. Click here to get started. https://themitchjackson.substack.com/p/join-my-new-subscriber-chat
OK, that’s it for this week.
Please share this issue, put the approaches and tools to work as you expand your company, and never stop making each day your masterpiece!
Mitch Jackson, Esq.
2013 California Litigation Lawyer of the Year
2009 Orange County Trial Lawyer of the Year
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