Communication Across Cultures Chapter 7 A different language is not just a dictionary of words, sounds, and syntax. It is a different way of interpreting reality, refined by the generations that developed the language. -- Federico Fellini Filmmaker and director, Italy (p. 200) Whatever the culture, theres a tongue in our head. Some use it, some hold it, and some bite it. For the French it is a rapier, thrusting in attack; the English, using it defensively, mumble a vague and confusing reply; for Italians and Spaniards it is an instrument of eloquence; Finns and East Asians throw you with their constructive silence. Silence is a form of speech, so dont interrupt it. -- Richard D. Lewis Communications consultant, UK (p. 200) Opening question: What advice, if any, can we derive from the
observations of Fellini and Lewis to become more effective communicators across cultures? 4 Consider: Communication gaffes 1. Should you read the colors or the words of a sign in a foreign country? (medium vs. message, universal traffic signs?) 2. When is it OK to show the souls of your shoes? (communication taboos?) 3. Is Gesundheit really English? (p. 201) 5 Topic for today: Communication across cultures Perception and communication Culture and communication: A model Language, logic, and communication Message content and context Communication protocols 6 Eye of the beholder: Perception and communication: A starting point Selective perception: People pay attention to messages that relate to their own immediate
problems or needs. Recency effects: A tendency to focus on the most recent message or interaction compared to earlier ones. Consider: Are these significant, of just minor, influences on interpersonal communication? (p. 202) Culture and communication: A model Exhibit 7.1. Cultural influences on the communication process Culture Culture 1: 1: Senders Senders normative normative beliefs beliefs about about appropriate appropriate communication communication behavior behavior (e.g. (e.g. belief belief in in open open and and frank
frank discussions; discussions; confrontation confrontation acceptable) acceptable) Culturally Culturally compatible compatible communication communication style style (e.g., (e.g., speak speak frankly frankly and and firmly; firmly; stay stay focused focused on on task; task; push push for for quick quick response) response) Senders
Senders communication communication style style (e.g., (e.g., construct construct and and convey convey direct direct message message to to receiver; expect receiver; expect direct direct and and timely timely response) response) Other Other influences influences on on communication communication process process (e.g., (e.g., past past experiences
experiences with with counterpart counterpart or or others others from from same same culture; culture; knowledge knowledge of of topic; topic; preparedness preparedness for for cross-cultural cross-cultural communication; communication; time time constraints; constraints; amount amount of of noise noise in in system; system; mutual mutual trust) trust) Culture Culture 2: 2: Receivers Receivers
normative normative beliefs beliefs about about appropriate appropriate communication communication behavior behavior (e.g., (e.g., reflect reflect before before speaking; speaking; avoid avoid offending offending others) others) Culturally Culturally compatible compatible communication communication style style (e.g., (e.g., speak speak subtly; subtly; consult consult
with with others others before before responding; responding; avoid avoid direct direct confrontation) confrontation) Receivers Receivers response response (e.g., (e.g., ignore ignore direct direct approach; approach; evaluate evaluate message message through through cultural cultural screens; screens; delay delay responding; responding; use use nonnonverbal
verbal communication) communication) (p. 203) Language, logic, and communication: Two issues 1. Language and linguistic structures 2. Cultural logic and shared meaning 1. Language and linguistic structures Linguistic structures: The manner in which words, grammar, syntax, and the meaning of words are organized and used. Sapir-Whorf hypothesis: Language imposes a structure on our way of thinking that leads to different ways of experiencing the world and, as a result, different worldviews (see Chapter 3). (p. 207) Consider: Fourth floors The fourth floor in an American building is three flights of stairs up. The fourth floor in a British building is four flights of stairs up. The fourth floor in a Korean building often doesnt exist. Consider: If identifying the fourth floor is so difficult, what happens when we are talking about something really important? (p. 206)
2. Cultural logic and shared meanings Cultural logic: Is the process of using our own assumptions to interpret the messages and actions of others, thereby inferring their motives and intentions. Provides people with a system of assumptions about what is mutually known and understoodour common ground. (p. 209) Cultural logic and cross-cultural communication Initial Initial message message creation: creation: Senders Senders mental mental image image of of intended intended message message
Senders Senders communication communication preferences: preferences: Content Content and and form form Senders Senders assumptions assumptions of of recipient's recipient's knowledge knowledge and and communication communication preferences preferences Senders Senders final final message
message creation creation and and transmission: transmission: Incorporating Incorporating senders senders preferred preferred message message content content and and form form as as modified modified by by his/her his/her assumptions assumptions of of recipient recipient Recipient's
Recipient's communication communication preferences: preferences: Content Content and and form form Recipient's Recipient's assumptions assumptions of of senders senders knowledge knowledge and and communication communication preferences preferences Message Message receipt: receipt: Recipient's Recipient's
mental mental image image and and interpretatio interpretatio nn of of received received message message Recipients Recipients response: response: Based Based on on message message interpretation interpretation and and learning, learning, recipient recipient becomes becomes sender sender of of aa second message
as the second message as the communication communication exchange exchange continues continues Original sender to recipient (p. 210) a m p a pr k o e xi a m n at 8: e 0 ti 0 m
a e p of p ar oi ri nt v m al e , nt a wi R n th e d a s m pr ul ig o ts ht
s c p h e a ct n iv g e e Br in a re zil s ia p n o b Consider: An 8:00 meeting (pp. 210-211) Challenges u
a l facing l y c l e a r l y u n d e r s t e non-native rpspeakers r e t i n c o m i
n g a n d (p. 212) Cultural differences in interpersonal communication 1. 2. 3a & (pp. 215-228) 1. Cultural influences on message content Appropriate topics for discussion: What topics are taboo for discussions? (family? illness? politics?) Affirmations and rejections: Must you agree? Can you say no? (What is the meaning of hai?)
Openness to express opinions: Can you really express your opinions? (speaking to superiors? Speaking to inferiors?) (p. 216) 2. Cultural influences on message context On average, verbal communication only carries about 35 percent of message content in a two-way conversation. This suggests that non-verbal communication can be critical in filling in the blanks in a two-way exchange. Cultures can be differentiated based on the extent to which they generally emphasize high or low context in their communication patterns. (p. 218) cultures Countries nt or Non: Brazil, ignored verbal Canada, Message Culture and message context: (contextu France,
is High, mid-range, and lowtypically al) are Morocco, often very Nigeria more important Medium important Subtle and than the message message medium content are both Rank of Rank of important message receiver Both sender or can affect verbal recipient medium and nonmay
and verbal affect message communi message Countries cation is or : China, often medium (p. 219) India, used in Countries Japan, tandem. : 2. Cultural influences on message context Facial expressions: Is it acceptable to show joy or anger? Personal space: How close should we stand to one another? Body language: Is it acceptable to point at someone? If so, how? What are the implications of bad posture? Secret communication: Do we use secret codes or symbols to convey meaning that others cannot detect?
(p. 218) 3a. Cultural influences on appropriate formalities (communication protocols) Opening a conversation: Who should speak first? Should we be assertive or passive? Ending a conversation: Who should end the conversation? Is there a formal end or do people just wander off? Presenting ideas or proposals: Should you present a proposal all-at-once or piece-by-piece? Interruptions and silence: Is it acceptable to interrupt? Are you comfortable with periods of silence? Vocal characteristics: Should you speak fast of slow, loud or soft? (p. 223) 3b. Cultural influences on appropriate behaviors (communication protocols) Apologies: When should you accept blame? How to save your own and others face? Disagreements: How should you express your disagreements? Emotional displays: is it OK to yell or cry? Feedback: How (and when) should you provide someone with feedback? Requests: How do you make a request? (p. 224) o
f m w e i MANAGERS NOTEBOOK: n r s Communicating across cultures: s e u E A summary n n n c d h e e Com a s r mun n M
s Com icati c Com e t mun on e mun s a icati enham icati s n on nce e on a d chall men s outc g i enge t s ome e
n s strat a s c g egie g o s s e n I c t m o e p (p. 223) MANAGERS NOTEBOOK: Improving cross-cultural communication 1. Enhance message clarity Message content Language clarity Delivery style 2. Enhance message comprehension
Inquiry Advocacy 3. Minimize communication breakdowns MANAGERS NOTEBOOK: 1. Enhancing message clarity State message clearly; slow down. Repeat message using different words, if possible. Back up spoken message with written materials. Speak in the others language, if possible. Avoid using idioms, jargon, or ambiguous words. Convey message in ways that are not offensive or threatening to others. MANAGERS NOTEBOOK: 2. Enhancing message comprehension State your expectations and assumptions clearly. Restate the positions of all parties during discussions to clarify common understanding. Deal with questions and concerns as they arise. Be patient; repeat message as often as needed. Ask each side to state the others position as he/she sees it. Avoid being so polite or subtle that message context gets lost. Write down any agreements of additional information to be sought.
MANAGERS NOTEBOOK: 3. Recognizing and responding to communication breakdowns Observe body language for signs of distress, anger, or confusion. Be patient and understanding. Take a break when appropriate. Mentally change places with others, asking yourself how they would respond to what you are saying. Notice your own reactions to the situation. Application: Communication protocols 1. Identify several of the more important communication protocols (both formalities and behaviors) governing interpersonal communication by members of your cultural group. 2. What are the possible challenges you or other members of this group might face when communicating with a fellow students from a different culture? 3. How might you prepare yourself so these challenges could be minimized? 28
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