Intercultural Communication in the Workplace Communication is one of the vital keys for a successful business atmosphere. “There is no better way to build trust than through communication” (Grady, 2003, pg 40). About 5 years ago while I was working at a bank, there was a miscommunication between a co-worker and myself. Lily was originally from Honk-Kong and worked as the loan Analyst for the bank.
Due to her heavy accent, and inability to form proper sentences, I would almost always ask her to repeat what she said, and of course with no problems she would. One day however, a customer asked to see her with a question he had for her, so I went ahead and called her over to my desk and the customer asked her a question in reference to his business loan, and she just would not understand, both the customer and myself were getting a bit irritated after about the third time of him explaining to her what he needed.
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A bit aggravated customer annoyingly stated, “I don’t understand why companies hire people who do not speak proper English. ” Not to make matters any worse, I apologized to the customer and told him that I would work with our manager and make sure that his request was taken care of as soon as she returned from lunch. After the customer left the branch, Lily started to scream at me, blaming me for what had just happened. I did not understand what was happening, I was in shock.
I kept thinking to myself, what did I do? Why is she so angry at me? These are the reasons that Intercultural communication in the workplace is so important. I didn’t think what I did was wrong; however, that’s obviously not what Lily thought. After the return of my manager and explaining to her what happened, I learned that Lily was upset because I didn’t stand-up for her when the customer made that comment about her and she also thought I should have tried to explain the situation to her myself.
I apologized to her and let her know I was just trying to get the customer to leave without a bigger scene taking place. These types of issues can happen within all companies. According to an article by Fairfield Country Business Journal (2004), “Companies often do not realize just how much their foreign-born employees and the companies they work for can be held back when those workers don’t speak English well or have cultural differences that inhibit communication in the workplace. “