The Cultural Differences between Spain and Finland

One of the most significant differences I noticed when comparing Spain and Finland’s cultural dimensions is power distance. According to The Hofstede Centre, power distance is “the fact that all individuals in societies are not equal.” Spain has a high score of 57, meaning that there is a notable hierarchy system within the country. In Finland, on the other hand, there is not as notable of a hierarchy system as there is in Spain; Finland has a score of 33, which is a difference of 34. Since there is a remarkable difference, I believe this could cause potential problems if the two countries did business together. That is because Spaniard(s) will most likely seek and feel comfortable with a hierarchical system where as the Finns will most likely not feel comfortable with one. The Finns will more than likely strive for more equality between the organizations and individuals within the companies. I think this could lead to some serious tensions if the two countries attempted to do business together.

The next dimension I decided to highlight is individualism, which is defined as “the degree of interdependence of a society maintains among its members” on The Hofstede Centre’s website. When it comes to individualism, there is fairly big difference between Spain and Finland. For instance, Spain is a collectivist society compared to most other European countries, including Finland. There is only a twelve point difference between the two countries; however, that the difference is enough to potentially create issues for Spanish or Finnish citizens who attempt to do business or work together. If the Finnish citizens adhere to this information, then it is possible that they may struggle to work well with the Spanish citizen because he/she inherently focuses more on their tasks and/or needs.

After noticing these as well as other differences, I believe that it would definitely be important for the two countries to work on successful verbal and nonverbal communication. It may seem obvious, but it would be beneficial for the members of each business to know both languages. Even if it is just one person or a handful of people who know Spanish and Finnish, that could definitely ease communication issues and knock down barriers. Chapter 3 in the textbook Excellence Business Communication emphasizes the importance of knowing and understanding languages in the business world. Furthermore, I think that the “Respecting Preferences for Communication Style” section is also very important for any business to keep in mind when they are working with a business from another country. That is because every country and culture has different communication styles so it is important to gain an understanding of how a business (or person) might communicate depending on which country it is from.

How to be an Effective Listener

Chapter 2 of Excellence in Business Communication is provides lots of crucial information about interpersonal communication. I really enjoyed reading the “Developing Your Business Etiquette” section because it discusses lots of great information about how to be professional at work. For instance, the authors discuss how personal appearance, time management, and phone skills are important in any career field. Within this section, the authors also highlight how business etiquette online and in social settings are just as important.

In addition to this, the section on “Improving Your Listening Skills” is extremely important. This particular section caused me to think very critically about my own listening habits and skills. Table 2.3 on page 49 highlights eleven ways to be an effective listener. As I read these tips, I rated myself on how often I do them (e.g. “always,” “frequently,” “occasionally,” or “never”). Rating myself really helped me understand what listening skills I’m good at and which ones I need to improve.

  • Listen actively- frequently
  • Take careful and complete notes- always
  • Make frequent eye contact with the speaker- occasionally
  • Stay focused on the speaker and the content- frequently/occasionally
  • Mentally paraphrase key points to maintain attention level and ensure comprehension- occasionally/never
  • Adjust listening style to situation- frequently
  • Give the speaker nonverbal cues- occasionally
  • Save questions or points of disagreement until an appropriate time- frequently
  • Overlook stylistic differences and focus on the speaker’s message- frequently
  • Make distinctions between main points and supporting details- frequently
  • Look for opportunities to learn­- always

One of these processes that I am already working on is staying focused. Since the school year started, I’ve been very busy. From classes and homework to work-study to meetings, I’ve had a lot to do. I have a Google Calendar and physical planner keep track of the tasks I need to accomplish. However, there are times when I find myself distracted because I’m thinking of all the things I need to do. Therefore, I’m trying to train myself to stay focused.

Another listening process that I need to work on is making eye contact. I’ve always known that I tend to struggle to make eye contact, especially in certain situations. I notice that in-group settings I struggle to make eye contact with the speaker. I’m not sure how this became a habit for me, but I plan to work on making eye contact more out of respect for those I’m talking to or listening to.

Be Clear, Be Concise, and Be Accurate

In Chapter 2 of the Business Style Handbook, authors Helen Cunningham and Brenda Greene highlighted a few important points to always keep in mind, especially when it comes to business writing. For example, they repeatedly emphasized that “writing that is clear, concise, and accurate” is incredibly crucial. That’s because those three components affect many aspects of writing. If you write clear sentences, then it’s possible to convey your information better to your audience. In turn, that increases your credibility with your audience as well as increase the chance that you will achieve your goal (e.g. sell a product, create a deal with a company).

In addition, being concise is also important when it comes to writing. Writing about your material in a concise—or even lengthy—manner affects how it’s perceived by your audience. Use language that will be easily understood and do not present it in a way that will make it extremely difficult to understand. For instance, a doctor won’t explain to a patient his or her condition using medical jargon. (This is considering the patient isn’t familiar with the medical field and medical jargon.) Instead, the doctor will explain it in simple, logical terms that will be easy for the patient to understand. Accuracy is also important because mistrust and inaccuracy will not establish your credibility, which affects how your audience interrupts your information and/or product.

When I read Chapter 1 of Excellence in Business Communication, I was very intrigued by the “Basic Communication Model” on page 11. In the Introduction of Communication course I took with Professor Gary Deaton, he taught a similar model. I think this model is very useful because it gives a broad explanation of how to write effectively. Most of all, I found the discussion of the “Social Communication Model” and the hybrid model to be the most interesting. The Social Communication Model is very basic, but ultimately it highlights “how a single idea moves from one sender to one receiver” (Bovée 14). Like stated in the textbook, the hybrid model is used in order to combine the traditional model and social communication model because the latter cannot work for every situation, business, or organization.