Crucial Skills®

A Blog by Crucial Learning

Crucial Conversations for Mastering Dialogue

Crucial Applications: Bridging the Cultural Communication Gap

In today’s fast-paced, multi-national, interdependent world, how do you talk about important topics with people whose specialty, culture, or physical location make it difficult to freely and clearly speak your mind? Here are some tips for bridging the gap—whether it’s across departments or across oceans.

  • Avoid e-mail. When stakes are high, opinions vary, and emotions run strong, never let e-mail replace talking. Complex topics deserve real-time, two-way communication. If you can’t meet face-to-face, talk on the phone.
  • Tentatively share concerns. Express your views and then tentatively share your concerns. Listen for hesitance from the other side. If you address both sides of an issue, you make it clear that it’s okay to raise differing opinions.
  • Invite differing views. After you’ve shared your view, conclude by making it safe for others to honestly express their opposing views.
    Ask, “What might I have missed here?” or “What do we need to do differently to make this work for you?”
  • Allow time. In some cultures, any quick response to a suggestion is seen as immature. When you give people time to review a proposal with their own team, it provides them with a chance to work on how they express their views and to make any necessary translations.

Remember, your goal should be to jointly come to a shared understanding. Physical, emotional, or intellectual distance calls for careful and honest dialogue.

Develop Your Crucial Skills

Image for

What's Your Style Under Stress?

Discover your dialogue strengths and weaknesses with this short assessment.

Take Assessment

Image for

Subscribe Now

Subscribe to the newsletter and get our best insights and tips every Wednesday.


Image for

Ask a Question

From stubborn habits to difficult people to monumental changes, we can help.

Ask a Question

Leave a Reply

Get your copies
The ideas and insights expressed on Crucial Skills hail from five New York Times bestsellers.


Take advantage of our free, award-winning newsletter—delivered straight to your inbox