It has emerged that Usain Bolt, Olympic 100m champion, has been quoted as saying that the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow were, ‘a bit shit’. No doubt Glaswegians are used to such language, but coming from a globally renowned athlete, this hits below the belt. We can sympathise with Bolt, who being from Jamaica, perhaps isn’t used to the traditional Scottish weather that has been especially atmospheric and representative of the Games’ host city.
Nevertheless, with over 70 nations competing this year, it would seem that Bolt’s cultural compass is a little off course. Luckily, our book, Diversity dashboard by Dr Deborah Swallow and Eilidh Milnes, offers excellent advice that we hope Bolt will take on board in time for Brazil 2016!
Ten strategies for clear, cross-cultural communication:
- Speak slowly and clearly
- Ask for clarification or summarize your understanding of what has been said
- Frequently check for others’ understanding
- Avoid idioms, metaphors and other colloquialisms
- Cut out jargon
- Clearly define your business concepts – e.g. what does ‘as soon as possible’ (or ‘a bit shit’) mean?
- Be specific
- Choose your medium of communication effectively
- Provide information via multiple channels
- Be patient