Challenges in communication have persisted in a multi-cultural environment since much before presents became gifts, inclines transformed into ramps, and way long before lifts took avatar as elevators.It gets quite an aggravated challenge when a single medium of communication is used, such as only voice call or written email.
Today's cross-functional, cross time zone and multi-location teams make collaborative working quite a challenge. In most occasions, colleagues in different locations don't meet frequently and that lack of face time compounds the problem manifold. Worse still, even the most common forms of intra-organization communication - email and telephone calls - are devoid of visuals, as well as tactile elements. Due to this missing visual/tactile component, body language elements, that often provide a context to the words, go completely missing. The consequence is that communication gets distorted and messages misunderstood.
For a client-vendor communication, such issues can cause completely unwelcome problems. One approach to avoid such issues is to rely on video communication channels such as videoconference, Skype and Google Hangout, that allow the users to see as well as listen. The advantage of such channels over email or teleconference is that one is able to see the facial expressions, the body posture, and the hand movements, and therefore, the chances of accidental misunderstandings are somewhat reduced.
Another technique is to begin a conversation with a 'small talk' (an unrelated to the business agenda item), that gets everyone familiarised with each other's communication style and personality, before getting onto business items.