Concrete Experience and Reflective Observation
An impressive number of elements of communication are often taken for granted during the workplace communication process. People tend to use various verbal and nonverbal tools to convey their message without thinking much about the implications of their word choice, mainly due to the set meanings attributed to these choices in their culture (Bonaccio, O’Reilly, O’Sullivan, & Chiocchio, 2016). However, the selection of particular words and phrases has a drastic impact on the quality of cross-cultural dialogue in the workplace. Numerous factors such as time constraints create the breeding grounds for a cross-cultural conflict (Bonaccio et al., 2016). As my experience at Bridgestone Aiken Plan has shown, researching different interpretations that specific elements of verbal and nonverbal communication may have on the quality of workplace communication is critical for a manager to ensure performance efficacy within a team. By integrating culture-specific nonverbal communication into the production process, I managed to create an environment for effective dialogue between employees, thus reducing the number of defects produced.
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My personal experience of using and interpreting verbal and nonverbal messages in the setting of the Bridgestone Aiken Plant has shown that misinterpretations associated with cultural differences may lead to large workplace conflicts and even incite the confrontation that will affect the team’s performance to a considerable extent. For instance, after a new member belonging to the Asian culture was recruited as a member of our team, employees were unaware of the fact that direct eye contact was uncharacteristic of communication in the Asian culture. The new team member, in turn, was too shy to mention this detail. As a result, while the new recruit realized that the intensity of the communication process was not deliberate, it was still far too distracting for him to maintain the quality of the performance consistently high.
As a result, the performance rates dropped and remained quite low until I explored the situation and addressed the issue by building cultural awareness among the employees. The observed situation proves that one should use both verbal and nonverbal communication elements with caution when working in a multicultural team. However, in an environment that implies fixed deadlines and rigid quality standards, dissecting the specifics of cultural communication may become nearly impossible. Therefore, as a manager, I had to introduce employees to the ideas of cultural competence and the necessity to build both verbal and nonverbal communication skills, as well as the significance of listening as the foundation of effective workplace dialogue. The specified steps were done by asking employees to share their communication techniques and culture-specific nonverbal elements thereof in a group meeting. As a result, a local lingua franca for all employees was born at Bridgestone Aiken.
Theories and Principles/Abstract Conceptualization
In order to understand the effects that a combination of verbal and nonverbal communication elements affect cross-cultural interactions in the workplace, one will need to scrutinize the phenomenon under analysis from the perspective of several theoretical frameworks. In this section, semiotics and the Communication Accommodation Theory will be discussed.
The tenets of semiotics will allow delving into the notion of communication and studying the effects that specific signs produce on the extent of understanding a particular message. In addition, semiotics will show how particular signs and symbols are interpreted when viewed through the lens of different cultures. Thus, one will embrace the principles of effective communication. By studying what signs are commonly used in the cultures to which employees belonged and how these signs were interpreted in different cultural environments, I managed to assist team members in building a language that all of them could understand in the workplace context.
Apart from the notion of semiotics as the foundational theoretical framework, one should also encompass the tenets of the Communication Accommodation Theory (CAT). According to the principles of CAT, communication patterns and behaviors are very flexible (Giles, 2016). It could be concluded that, due to the high pliability rates thereof, people are prone to mimic the interaction strategies of one another, thus creating a cycle of cross-cultural exchange of ideas and experiences. By integrating the specified approach into the workplace, one will be able to elicit positive outcomes and prompt the development of cultural competence among staff members (Giles, 2016).
This change is particularly important for the Bridgestone Aiken Plant setting, where diverse staff members are expected to enhance the production process, maintain the principles of the Kaizen philosophy, and improve the quality of their performance. The theories under analysis allowed dissecting the cultural context of the workplace environment and shaping it to make it more comfortable for the staff. With the key obstacles that hinder their verbal and nonverbal communication removed, team members at the Bridgestone Aiken Plant will be able to meet the set performance standards.
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Testing and Application/Active Experimentation
Incorporating the ideas of the CAT framework and the concept of semiotics is likely to improve the performance of employees at the Bridgestone Aiken Plant. With more attention being put into the consideration of the choices that they use to purport their message, the employees at Bridgestone Aiken Plant will cooperate more actively in the company’s workplace setting. In addition, it is believed that strategies involving active listening and a more considerate approach toward managing one another’s needs and requests will be needed. Thus, one will create a more amicable environment at the Bridgestone Aiken Plant. My experience shows that the application of language analysis and the assessment of verbal communication techniques helps to maximize the untidy of employees’ performance by reducing the instances of misunderstandings.
Bonaccio, S., O’Reilly, J., O’Sullivan, S. L., & Chiocchio, F. (2016). Nonverbal behavior and communication in the workplace: A review and an agenda for research. Journal of Management, 42(5), 1044-1074.
Giles, H. (Ed.). (2016). Communication accommodation theory: Negotiating personal relationships and social identities across contexts. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.