Many leaders of Global Virtual Teams find that a major obstacle to successful cross-border working seems to stem from difficulties arising from communication problems.
It is essential to understand that communication problems within a global virtual team do not arise solely from the fact that the various different team members have different native languages (although it is undoubtedly one of the problems.)
Other factors can make communication across the many cultures within a virtual team extremely difficult.
It is not simply because we all speak different languages that communication problems can arise – it is also linked to the fact that different cultures use language differently. What somebody from one culture feels is a very positive communication style can often be seen by somebody from a different culture as a very negative communication style.
All too often approaches to communication which differ from the norm in your own culture can be misinterpreted as a personality defect. Instead of people thinking, ‘that’s the way they use language in that particular country’ people associate language style with negative characteristics such as rudeness or evasiveness.
A more expansive explanation of some of the key cultural communication style differences can be found on this site in under the topic heading:
Working Across Global Cultures