Communicating as a Global Citizen
November 13, 2017
Globalization impacts every aspect of our lives, and savvy communicators understand that asking the right questions and adapting to different scenarios sets us on the path to success. Whether we live and travel abroad or find ourselves communicating across time zones digitally from our hometowns. Being a professional in today’s climate means that we have the potential to interact with people from all over the globe.
On November 6, five panelists shared their experiences while working and interning abroad at a dinner and discussion event co-hosted by CxC and the Humanities and Social Sciences and Business Residential Colleges. With a wealth of knowledge to draw from, our panelists were able to provide key takeaways for how to navigate the global market and develop the necessary communications skills.
Photo: Ian Andrepont
Panelists: Left to right, Dima Ghawi, Angela Rozas, Kali Jones, Chelsea LeBlanc, Savanah Dickinson
Dima Ghawi - Business Management Consultant at Dima Ghawi, LLC, author
Kali Jones - Diplomat in Residence, U.S. Department of State
Chelsea LeBlanc - LSU alumna, Distinguished Communicator, LSU in Paris
Savanah Dickinson - LSU alumna, Distinguished Communicator, former intern for the Department of State in Bahrain
Angela Rozas - Senior Director of Social Impact, Public Policy and Sustainability at The Coca-Cola Company
Research Your Audience and Setting in Advance
Doing independent research is your first line of defense when planning to work abroad or with team members from diverse backgrounds. It’s easy to assume that we have a good understanding of a people or a place because of what we’ve heard or experienced through television and social media. However, Savanah reminded those in attendance to not blanket entire regions with the perceptions that you may have or rely solely on what you’ve researched online. Asking a native or someone who lives in the specific area you are working in is the best way to get information about language and behaviors that are acceptable.
Handling Communication Mishaps
When there are language and culture barriers,missteps are bound to happen. Be aware of how the information and messages you are putting out are being received. While working in Tokyo for the first time, Dima realized that her naturally straightforward and direct communication style wasn’t well received. Her team stopped showing up to her meetings and she learned quickly that she would have to adapt her style. Through asking lots of questions and showing sincere interest in getting it right, she was able to better interact and communicate effectively with her team. Making the effort to learn from mistakes and being apologetic in the moment, she advised, shows you are genuine and want to learn. Reading body language is another helpful tool to use. Often times no one will tell you you’ve made a mistake in an effort to be polite, but their face and body language will let you know.
Photo: Ian Andrepont
Body language and other nonverbal cues can be easy to overlook, but are just as important as verbal communication. Chelsea sat on her feet while in a restaurant in France, and was scolded by a waiter. She realized that something even that small can be considered rude. Observing the mannerisms of the people around you can help you to better understand what is acceptable and what isn’t. This can also be applied to what style of dress is acceptable among certain communities.
Coveted Communication Skills for a Global Market
Developing skills and leveraging them for the global market can be a bit confusing the first time around. You may not think that you have the necessary experience to work abroad, but chances are you do! Angie encouraged the audience by mentioning that if you are an effective communicator, you are likely also proficient in project management, organization, and working in a team. All are skills that rely heavily on one’s ability to communicate well and are needed when working in a diverse environment.
Breaking into the Market
If you are interested in working in a global setting, networking and word-of-mouth go a long way when finding those opportunities. Having a personal referral is a great way to put yourself in front of the right people. While you’re still in school, study abroad programs and internships are a lucrative way to gain experience. Kali prompted students to look into internships with the state department. It’s real work experience and can offer a space to hone in on foreign language skills.
Photo: Ian Andrepont