Recognizing cultural differences when you write or speak with someone from another culture, you encode your message using the assumptions of your own culture. Members of your audience decode the message relating to the assumptions of their culture. So your meaning may be misunderstood. The greater the difference between cultures, the greater the chance for misunderstanding. Cultural differences are listed in four categories: Contextual, Legal and Ethical, Social, and Nonverbal.
Cultural context is the pattern of physical cues, environmental stimuli, and implicit understanding that conveys meaning between members of the same culture. High context cultures encourage lengthy decision making, concentrating on everything detail, and avoids confrontation and debate. Whereas low-context cultures emphasize quick, efficient decisions on major points while leaving the details to be worked out later and encourages open disagreement.
Cultural context also influences legal and ethical behavior. Legal systems differ from culture to culture the high context cultures views laws as being more flexible, low-context tend to value written agreements and interpret laws strictly.. Ethical choices can be even more complicated when communicating across cultures. Keep your messages ethical by actively seeking mutual ground exchanging messages without judgement, sending messages that are honest, and showing respect for cultural differences.
Social differences there are four types among cultures. In any culture etiquette play a major part. Formal rules of etiquette are explicit and well defined, but informal rules are learned through observation and imitation. When informal rules are violated members of the culture are likely to feel uncomfortable, they may not be able to say exactly why. Attitudes toward materialism people from the United States emphasize hard work, material success, and efficiency more than many people in other countries do.
Roles and status, respect and rank are reflected differently from culture to culture and in their working environment. Use of manners the rules of polite behavior vary from country to country. Concepts of time, although businesspeople in the United States, Germany, and some other nations see time as a way to organize the business day efficiently, other cultures see time as more flexible.
Nonverbal differences is extremely reliable when determining meaning, but that reliability is valid only when communicators belong to the same culture. The simplest of hand gestures can change from culture to culture. Interpreting nonverbal elements according to your own culture can be dangerous the elements are apparent in attitudes toward personal space and in body language. Concept of personal space for example people in Canada and the united States stand about five feet apart during a business conversation. Use of Body Language gestures of a culture clarify confusing messages, but differences in body language can be a major source of misunderstanding during intercultural conversation.
For example, during our negotiations and we’ve finally closed the deal the Chinese representative from this company says yes to everything and seems as if she’s agreeable to our terms. I share the information with my boss and he doesn’t seem very excited. Why isn’t he excited? The word yes may not always mean yes in other cultures it may mean to say yes to confirm they have heard or understood something , but not necessarily to indicate they agree with it.. You’ll seldom get a direct no . Some of the ways that other cultures say no indirectly include “It will be difficult, I will ask my supervisor, I’m not sure, We will think about it , and I’m not sure”.
When communicating across cultures, your effectiveness depends on maintaining an open mind.Stereotyping is the attempt to categorize individuals by trying to predict their behavior or character on the basis of their membership or a particular group. Move beyond stereotypes to relationships with real people. You can achieve this by acknowledging distinctions, avoiding assumptions, and avoiding judgements.
Business Communication Today Chp III 52-63