Communication is both the most important yet challenging aspect to accomplish anywhere around the world. In terms of intercultural communication, Asia is comprised of various cultures with more than a thousand languages. Each culture is unique and having an open mind is crucial.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) conducted a webinar titled Communication and Organizational Change Across Culture on 19 June 2021. This webinar highlighted the challenges of intercultural and multinational communication that are influenced by culture differences.

Tony Fernandes, the Group CEO of Air Asia, said the most important things in communication are transparency, honesty, positivity, and letting people be themselves. For example, Tony has staff from many different cultures and he never sees or treats them differently. “There is no form of discrimination, it doesn’t matter what race, religion, and sex, anyone who wants to be the best will be the best,” he said.

This webinar also invited Datuk Ayauf Bachi, the Former Malaysia Ambassador to Peru and Ukraine. As a diplomat who is responsible to represent the country and promote the national interest, Datuk Ayauf Bachi encouraged leadersto observe the culture, get familiarized with cultural issues of neighboring countries, and prepare effectively for successful diplomatic presentations.  Even though diplomats are normally equipped with guidelines and talking points, it is still beneficial to make sure that the delivery is done well in terms of public speaking. Furthermore, other soft skills such as good body language is also something communicators should pay attention to.

During the webinar, Mr. Arhan who is the councillor of Malaysia in Ankara, Turkey highlighted how powerful social media is nowadays, to enhance intercultural and organizational change, as well as enabling local governments to be more transparent. “Social media now is a very powerful tool. It can make the leaders be more accountable for what they say, what they do, and what they don’t do. Through social media, the government gets the feedback from the public immediately and it is more efficient,” he said.

The Secretary-General of UCLG ASPAC, Dr. Bernadia Irawati Tjandradewi who works with a great number of local governments and cities in Asia Pacific stated that networking as well as cooperation is important and communication is the key. She finds out a lot of best practices are shared and upscale through networking and cooperation between local governments and cities in Asia Pacific.

Furthermore, in communication, language used needs to be considered. “We normally use English as the universal language. If the event is attended by many members from Korea or China, then we will use the Chinese and Korean.” she said.

Communication should be done in two ways. All speakers agreed that communication not only requires speaking skill but also listening. By listening to others’ experience, people can become good decision makers.

In the closing statement, all speakers gave advice to younger generations, such as to enrich themselves with knowledge and improve their critical thinking. Mr. Arhan said young people should read more, sharpen their problem solving skills, always be curious, and do not hesitate to ask. Datuk Ayauf Bachi stated quite the same things, with theaddition that young people should equip themselves with a third language and should be a good listener. Moreover, in this smart and tech-savvy era, Dr. Bernadia advised the young people to enhance their creativity, communication and negotiation skills because those are the things that cannot be replaced by robots.

 

By KM Team

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