Communication is a process by which a person sends a message--verbal or nonverbal or behavioral stimuli--to someone with the conscious intent of evoking a response. In reality, "one cannot not communicate" ( Watzlawick , Beavin & Jackson, 1967, p. 49). All human behavior is potentially a communication. The focus in this book is on behavior that is informative--any behavior, intentional or unintentional, interpreted by another person. Most of what is communicated is not interpreted as it was intended. Thus, effective communication is the process in which the receiver interprets the message in the same way intended by the sender. This is extremely difficult to do across cultures. An unknown author summarized the difficulty thusly: "I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant!"
The overarching element of the manager-subordinate communication process is empathy. Subordinates are influenced to achieve organization goals when their supervisors project empathic credibility. Whether they come of their own free will or are coerced, most employees enter the diversity process with preconceived notions of what is interpersonally satisfying. Consequently, unless through communication managers and supervisors are able to establish rapport with subordinates, much of the diversity initiative will fail or will be inappropriately carried out. We cannot separate communication from culture. There have been numerous attempts to explain the importance of intercultural communication, trans