Cross-Cultural Workplace Communication: My Senior Chinese colleague

Last summer holiday, I flew back to Hong Kong working in a film production company as an intern for three months. I was asked to form a multicultural working group, specifically in charge of the creative project. When cooperating with people from different countries, finding ways to better communicate with others in a multicultural workplace is of vital importance for me.

However, we often have conflicts with each other, from deciding the team directly to the actual process part in implementing creative projects in film production. It especially happened between me and my senior Chinese colleague, Ximian. As an international student from Hong Kong, I always had arguments with him about the role that we were playing as a team, and the disruption of work assignments. Sometimes we would even express our dissatisfaction to each other in an improper way.

These are related to the language barriers, nationalities and large disparity in ways of manner between teammates.

Here are my two tips when working in a multicultural group, which are respect and negotiation.

(My personal solution to deal with Ximian) Proven by myself, and it worked! 🙂



1. Respect

Respect is an indispensable item for improving the working performance for the group with different cultural backgrounds, in order to avoid conflicts. A correct etiquette can help to develop a harmony business relationship. Since China is a traditional country with ancient history, respect and courtesy are much needed when getting along with others, especially towards the seniors and seasoned generation. Not only because the experienced are playing a significant role among the Chinese community, but normally taking charge of a high position in companies. It proves that deference does help people a lot in the intercultural workplace, being able to have a well-communication and makes things to be smooth, which can help to accomplish things in a qualified way with efficiency.



More importantly, any accomplishment in a team is established on respecting each other. A successful teamwork usually has a relationship which includes understanding, trust, and respect, not to mention we need to engage with people in an intercultural workplace. Having a basis of understanding can sooner or later gain others’ trust. As such, with these essential elements can come together, a genuine sense of respect can ultimately be developed. With a true respect between me and Ximian, we worked together with an honest attitude and truly respect each other, which could reflect our feelings directly to each other. Therefore we successfully break through the cultural difference and end up in forming a more connected and cooperative group, which shows the result of high-level performance in our creative team.


2. Negotiation

Another critical factor that can greatly improve our workplace communication is negotiation. It can help people to cultivate a well-communication and clear direction for a team in a multicultural environment. Negotiation in a team is needed for each group-mate to exchange ideas, allowing a cross-cultural team to work together collaboratively. Thus, negotiating with your co-workers is always significant, especially when people need to face the communication barriers in a world with diversity.



Besides, people who are from different places usually have diversified talents and potential. Some may familiar at creative thinking and some may good at public speaking. As such, we should divide the work tasks to a suitable person through negotiation. It enabled Ximian could assign me to a PR position to present publicly, which was the result of agreement of workload through negotiation. It allowed me to release my potentials and enjoy my working environment.  I believe that if you can negotiate well with your senior or co-worker, you can always excel into exceptional excellence in all perspective in workplace, but not only communication.


Hope you can perform well in your workplace like this 🙂

That’s what we call efficiency!


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