Intercultural Sommunication between Singaporeans and Norwegians

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Culture gives messages to shape perceptions, attributions, judgments, and ideas of self and others. In today’s global workplace, culture is an essential part of conflict and conflict resolution. However, having different negotiation styles, decision-making methods and opposing views about a situation will cause intercultural conflict to arise. If conflicts arise during negotiations between different countries, international business cannot take place. Without international business, countries will fail to obtain mutual benefits.

In order to prevent conflicts during negotiation, Singaporeans and Norwegians must let go of any ethnocentric beliefs. Ethnocentrism is the act of judging other people’s culture based on preconceptions that are found in the values and standards of one’s own culture, especially about language, behavior, customs, and religion. Every culture has its own history, significance and uniqueness. People should not assume that their culture are superior and other cultures are inferior. Therefore, both Singaporeans and Norwegians must respect each others culture. Norwegian should understand that Singaporean values are based on Confucianism, which emphasize the importance of respecting age and status. Norwegian should avoid sending a young representative to negotiate with a Singaporean superior, to respect their culture. As Norwegian’s value are based on simplicity and equality, they may simply send the best people in their company as representatives to Singapore for negotiation. If the representatives sent are younger than Singaporean’s superior, they should not be furious at their Norwegian counterpart, instead, they should stay calm and try to give a chance to the Norwegian representatives sent for negotiation. During negotiation, Singaporeans like to display strong willpower, passion and ambitiousness. Norwegians must respect their enthusiasm, as this reflects their seriousness to be successful. Singaporeans must also respect that Norwegians do not show off their ambitiousness to remain modest.

Intercultural communication refers to the verbal and nonverbal interaction between people from different cultural backgrounds. As every culture has different verbal and non verbal communication style, people should educate themselves on intercultural communication before negotiating with foreigners. This will help them to have better understanding of foreigner’s business communication style. For instance, as Singaporeans prefer indirect communication, their speech are often uncertain as they tend to understate their point. If Norwegians are aware about this, they will listen carefully to their Singaporean counterparts, look out for hints of hesitation and ask them several times whether or not they agree with an opinion. By doing research on intercultural communication, Norwegians will understand Singaporeans do not give critics directly to save other people’s dignity. Singaporeans will only provide their frank opinion when told to do so. Learning about intercultural communication can be done by reading books written by people from other culture, following social media of other culture and visiting cultural centers.

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In most situations, foreign representatives are unaware of local business culture. Therefore, company should appoint a cultural consultant for the foreign representatives. A cultural consultant will teach them about local cultures, customs, taboos and guide them on how to negotiate with the local company. For example, when Norwegians are sent to Singapore for negotiation, the cultural consultant will prepare them before they attend meetings and negotiations. The cultural consultant will teach the Norwegians representatives about business cards etiquette, norms of collective a society and Singaporean’s business communication style. This will ensure Norwegians do not offend Singaporeans during the meeting. The Singaporean host can also hire a cultural consultant to learn more about Norwegian’s culture and preference. This will help them to make their Norwegian counterparts to feel welcome in Singapore. Hiring a cultural consultant is worth the cost because it teaches both countries to be cultural sensitive, which will ensure a successful negotiation.

Besides that, they can also seek support from community members. This can be done by signing up for community classes, getting involved in mutual cultural exchange and foreign culture events. By seeking help from community members, they will obtain ideas on how to deal with foreigners and how to maintain harmonious relationship with them. For example, Norwegian community members will inform Singaporeans that Norwegian dislike waiting too long for an answer. In this way, Singaporean will compromise and try to speed up their decision making process, perhaps by consulting less people. As a collective society, Singaporeans are willing to delay business discussion and take time to build relationship with their business partners. If Singaporeans are aware of Norwegian’s behaviour, they will understand that Norwegians are individualistic. Thus, they will avoid being too friendly and having long social conversation to ensure their Norwegians counterpart feel comfortable. As Singaporeans are tough negotiators, they tend to do lots of bargaining and will demand for many concessions before ending the negotiation. If Norwegians associate with Singaporeans before the negotiation, they will understand that Singaporeans behave that way because they have fear of losing out and wants to achieve the best outcome in any situation. Therefore, Norwegians will try to be patient with their Singaporean counterparts during negotiation. Norwegians will also understand that Singaporeans has low uncertainty avoidance, which makes them risk takers. Thus, if Singaporeans suggest a proposal that involves untested concepts during negotiation, Norwegians can explain to their Singaporean counterparts that they dislike taking risk and politely ask to make changes to the proposal, instead of declining the proposal and calling off the negotiation.

Learning foreign language is one of the best way to show respect and interest to other culture. As Singaporeans likes to be hospitable towards their guests, learning Norwegian will be a great way to make them feel welcome in Singapore. By learning Norwegian, it will be easier for the Singaporean host to break the ice and have social conversation with Norwegians during meeting. Norwegians can also learn a bit Singaporean’s language like Malay and Mandarin to impress their Singaporean counterparts. Although Norwegians and Singaporeans speak English, learning another common language will help to reduce the language barrier and ensure better communication between both of them.

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