Cross Cultural Communication: Far East Asian Countries This paper gives a short overview of the observed behavioral pattern across some of the far east Asian countries. Understanding these behavioral patterns is important for doing effective communication with people/people group from these countries. The effective communication holds one of the key of establishing business and personal relationship in these countries.
This paper also looks into some of concepts and theories in intercultural and Cross-cultural communication, thus providing a brief empirical research into culture-based value variations and providing a short outline of the major works in this area (e. g. the works of Hall, Hofstede, and Schwartz). Having insight into the cultural dynamics of a country or region can be very helpful to understand why people act the way they do, and the appropriate way you should act while in that country.
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As international, multinational, trans-national, multi domestic, and global business continues to expand and bring people closer, the most important element of successful business outcomes may be the appreciation and respect for regional, country, and cultural differences – known as cultural diversity. 1. Introduction The advent of the global economy is changing the fundamental nature of our governments, businesses, organizations and populations. In short, we are no longer constrained by state boundaries but have all become part of an interdependent international network.
One of the key changes this has triggered is the need to communicate effectively with different people in different languages and from different cultures. It is now recognized that linguistic and cultural knowledge are two of the most vital areas of knowledge that organizations must come to acquire if they are to integrate, progress and succeed in the marketplace. Cross-cultural communication is a must. Cross-cultural communication (also frequently referred to as intercultural communication) is a field of study that looks at how people from differing cultural backgrounds endeavor to communicate.
Cross-cultural communication tries to bring together such relatively unrelated areas as cultural anthropology and established areas of communication. Its core is to establish and understand how people from different cultures communicate with each other. Its charge is to also produce some guidelines with which people from different cultures can better communicate with each other. We study the culture in context of cultural theories given by following researchers * Hofstede’s Cultural dimensions * Hall’s Context theory * Schwartz value Inventory Theory
Every country have her own unique cultural, because of this cultural uniqueness there are some difference during communication . To avoid these flaws during communication one should know about the society, etiquettes and culture & business etiquettes and protocol of the countries with which he/she interacting. 2. Culture Patterns and Theories 2. 1 Behavioral Pattern A number of mostly behavioral concepts has been identified that can be used to distinguish between cultures. These include, for example, the differences in the usage of * Kinesics (body movements), Proxemics (space organization), * Oculesics (eye movement), * Haptics (touching behavior) * Paralinguistic concepts (accents, intonation, speed of talking) Not surprisingly each of these concepts plays an important role in intercultural communication, particularly in communication where the context plays an important role. Most people will either consciously, or subconsciously look for affirmative action (or reaction) by their counterparts when speaking to them face to face, for example to signal that what is being said is understood.
In those cases the affirmative action is, not surprisingly, often directly linked to cultural context. Failure to provide the correct affirmative action may well be interpreted as undermining the spoken word. Depending on the context, this may lead to a complete communication breakdown. For example, eye contact is an important part of the communication process in Western cultures. It is often seen as an affirmative action of what is said. However, maintaining eye contact is not usually acceptable in certain Asian cultures, where, for example, a woman can only maintain eye contact with her husband.
Clearly a woman from such a culture will cause confusion, if not disbelief, when communicating with a Western interlocutor. 2. 2 Thought Pattern Another frequently examined concept is thought patterns. These can be summarized as being: * logical or pre-logic, * inductive or deductive, * abstract or concrete * Alphabetic or analphabetic These concepts are more complex, and they may require more attention, as they are slightly more difficult to grasp. For example, inductive or deductive thought patterns may have a profound impact on argumentation and communication styles, but also on the way the world is seen and understood.
According to Maletzke (1996) Anglo-Saxon thought patterns are predominantly inductive, Latin American and Russian thought patterns are predominantly deductive. Whereas inductive thinking aims to derive theoretical concepts from individual cases, deductive thinking aims to interpret individual cases within previously derived theoretical concepts. Clearly, argumentation styles will be quite different in the two approaches. Equally, thinking within the Aristotelian logical tradition, which is dominant in most Western cultures may not be understood by people from a culture which emphasizes a more holistic approach to thinking.
Although all of the concepts that have been proposed are interesting as a possible way to examine differences in cultural patterns, they are difficult to apply in the context of a wider study because of the severe lack of quantitative data. It is thus necessary to look for classifications of cultural patterns at a deeper level than the behavioral one (or the outer layer of the culture onion), as well as research that is backed up by the availability of empirical data. All of the concepts referred to above are limited to only one aspect out of the multi-aspect differences that make an effective research agenda into cultural differences.
Even when taken together, they do not allow a broad analysis or classification of cultures to any great extent or depth. More systematic and profound concepts, such as Hall (1959, 1969) and Hofstede (1991, 1994) were required to allow for a more detailed analysis of culture at a different level than only behavioral. 2. 3 Hofstede Framework for Assessing Culture He has found five dimensions of culture in his study of national work related values: Small vs. Large Power Distance – the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organizations expect and accept that power is distributed unequally. Small power distance (e. g.
Austria, Denmark) expect and accept power relations that are more consultative or democratic. People relate to one and other more as equals regardless of formal positions. Subordinates are more comfortable with and demand the right to contribute to and critique the decision making of those in power. Large power distances (e. g. China) less powerful accept power relations that are more autocratic and paternalistic. Subordinates acknowledge the power of others simply based on where they are situated in certain formal, hierarchical positions. Examples of cultures with high PDI scores include Arabic speaking countries, Russia, India and China.
Those with low scores include Japan, Australia and Canada. In a high power distance cultures the following may be observed * Those in authority openly demonstrate their rank. * Subordinates are not given important work and expect clear guidance from above. * Subordinates are expected to take the blame for things going wrong. * The relationship between boss and subordinate is rarely close/personal. * Politics is prone to totalitarianism. * Class divisions within society are accepted. In a low power distance culture: * Superiors treat subordinates with respect and do not pull rank. Subordinates are entrusted with important assignments. * Blame is either shared or very often accepted by the superior due to it being their responsibility to manage. * Managers may often socialize with subordinates. * Liberal democracies are the norm. * Societies lean more towards egalitarianism. If you are working with or going to a country with a higher PDI than yours then: * Give clear and explicit directions to those working with you. Deadlines should be highlighted and stressed. * Do not expect subordinates to take initiative. * Be more authoritarian in your management style.
Relationships with staff may be more distant than you are used to. * Show respect and deference: to those higher up the ladder. This is usually reflected through language, behavior and protocol. * Expect to encounter more bureaucracy in organizations and government agencies. If you are working with or going to a country with a lower PDI than yours then: * Don’t expect to be treated with the usual respect or deference you may be used to. * People will want to get to know you in an informal manner with little protocol or etiquette. * Be more inclusive in your management or leadership style as being directive will be poorly interpreted. Involve others in decision making. * Do not base judgments of people on appearance, demeanor, privileges or status symbols. Individualism vs. collectivism – individualism is contrasted with collectivism, and refers to the extent to which people are expected to stand up for themselves and to choose their own affiliations, or alternatively act predominantly as a member of a life-long group or organization. Latin American cultures rank among the lowest in this category, while the U. S. A. is one of the most individualistic cultures. Individualism is one of the five intercultural dimensions developed by Hofstede.
In short this cultural dimension looks at how much a culture emphasizes the rights of the individual versus those of the group (whether it is family, tribe, company, etc). Individualist cultures include the United States and much of Western Europe, where personal achievements are emphasized. Collectivist cultures, such as China, Korea, and Japan, emphasize the group such as the family and at work this manifests in a strong work group mentality. In a country that scores highly on the individualism scale the following traits are common: * A person’s identity revolves around the “I” * Personal goals and achievement are strived for It is acceptable to pursue individual goals at the expense of others * ‘Individualism’ is encouraged whether it is personality, clothes or music tastes * The right of the individual reign supreme; thus laws to protect choices and freedom of speech In a country that scores low on the individualism scale the following traits are common: * We” is more important than “I” * Conformity is expected and perceived positively. * Individual’s desires and aspirations should be curbed if necessary for the good of the group. * The rights of the family (or for the common good) are more important. Rules provide stability, order, obedience. If you are working or doing business in a country with a higher individualism score than yourself then: * Remember that you can’t depend on the group for answers. As an individual you are expected to work on your own and use your initiative. * Prepare yourself for a business environment that may be less reliant on relationships and personal contacts. Business and personal life may very well be kept separate. * Employees or subordinates will expect the chance to work on projects or solve issues independently. Being too intrusive into their work may be interpreted negatively. It is not uncommon for people to try and stand out from the rest. This may be during meetings, presentations or even during group work. * Bear in mind that a certain amount of individual expression is tolerated viz. appearances, behavior, etc. If you are working or doing business in a country with a lower individualism score than yourself then: * Note that individuals will have a strong sense of responsibility for their family which can mean they take precedence over business. * Remember that praise should always be directed to a team rather than individuals as otherwise this may cause people embarrassment.
Reward teams not people. * Understand that promotions depend upon seniority and experience-not performance and achievement. * Decision making may be a slow process, as many individuals across the hierarchy will need to be consulted. Masculinity vs. femininity – refers to the value placed on traditionally male or female values. Masculine cultures value competitiveness, assertiveness, ambition, and the accumulation of wealth and material possessions, whereas feminine cultures place more value on relationships and quality of life. Japan is considered by Hofstede to be the most “masculine” culture, Sweden the most “feminine. Anglo cultures are moderately masculine. Because of the taboo on sexuality in many cultures, particularly masculine ones, and because of the obvious gender generalizations implied by the Hofstede terminology, this dimension is often renamed by users of Hofstede work, e. g. to Quantity of Life vs. Quality of Life. According the Hofstede findings Greece is the most risk-averse culture while Singapore the least. Generally speaking Protestant countries and those with Chinese influences score low. Catholic, Buddhist and Arabic speaking countries tend to score high in uncertainty avoidance.
Below are some of the common traits found in low scoring countries on the masculinity scale * In life the main priorities are the family, relationships and quality of life * Conflicts should ideally be solved through negotiation * Men and women should share equal positions in society * Professionals “work to live”, meaning longer vacations and flexible working hours Below are some of the common traits found in countries that score high on the masculinity scale * Life’s priorities are achievement, wealth and expansion * It is acceptable to settle conflicts through aggressive means * Women and men have different roles in society Professionals often “live to work”, meaning longer work hours and short vacations If you are working or doing business in a country with a higher masculinity score than yourself then: * To succeed in this culture you will be expected to make sacrifices in the form of longer work hours, shorter holidays and possibly more travel. * Be aware that people will discuss business anytime, even at social gatherings. * Avoid asking personal questions in business situations. Your colleagues or prospective partners will probably want to get straight to business. People are not always interested in developing closer friendships. * Communication style that is direct, concise and unemotional will be most effective in this environment. * People will use professional identity, rather than family or contacts, to assess others. * Self-promotion is an acceptable part of the business culture in this competitive environment. If you are working or doing business in a country with a lower masculinity score than yourself then: * Recognize that people value their personal time. They priorities family and take longer holidays. Working overtime is not the norm. Small talk at social (or business) functions will focus on an individual’s life and interests rather than just business. * Personal questions are normal rather than intrusive. * In business dealings trust weighs more than projected profit margins and the like. Long vs. short term orientation – describes a society’s “time horizon,” or the importance attached to the future versus the past and present. In long term oriented societies, pragmatism, thrift and perseverance are valued more; in short term oriented societies, normative statements, respect for tradition and reciprocation of gifts and favors are valued more.
China and Japan and the Asian tigers score especially high here, with Western nations scoring rather low and man of the less developed nations very low; China scored highest and Pakistan lowest. 2. 4 Hall’s classic patterns Based on his experience in the Foreign Service, Edward T. Hall published two books, “The Silent Language” (1959) and “The Hidden Dimension” (1969). In them, he identified two classic dimensions of culture. Firstly, he identified high-context and low-context cultures Where the high and low context concept is primarily concerned with the way in which information is transmitted, that is to say communicated.
According to Hall, all “information transaction” can be characterized as high-, low – or middle – context. “High context transactions feature pre-programmed information that is in the receiver and in the setting, with only minimal information in the transmitted message. Low context transactions are the reverse. Most of the information must be in the transmitted message in order to make up for what is missing in the context. ” The high/low context concept remains one of the most frequently used concepts when analyzing, for example, face-to-face communication.
The implications of this concept are far ranging, and reaching from interpersonal to mass communication. The high/low context concept is one of the easiest concepts to witness in intercultural encounters. This concept deals primarily with language, which is located in the outer layer of the ‘culture onion’, Figure 1: Layered Culture And is one of the most rudimentary concepts for any type of intercultural communication, or analysis thereof. For example, many business negotiators, particularly from the West, find it difficult to deal with Chinese business negotiators.
Often they have been found to encounter severe problems understanding their counterparts, and interpreting correctly what their counterparts want to convey. Although clearly it is not only the high/low context concept that makes communication difficult, the high/low context concept may well play an important role in the difficulties encountered when a person from a high context country, such as China, communicates with a person from a low context country, such as Germany. Equally, mass communication is likely to be influenced by the high/low context concept.
In particular, it can be expected that the information content of advertising, for example, is lower in high context cultures than low context cultures However, there is little, if any, statistical data available which identify where given countries are located on the high-low context dimension, and linguistically, it is very complex to identify degrees of directness, since explicitness – implicitness, communicative strength, and bluntness-cushioning are all involved. Hall’s second concept, polychrome versus monochrome time orientation One must Deals with cultures the ways, in which they structure their time.
Similar to the high/low context concept, this concept is easy to understand, but it lacks empirical data. The monochrome time concept follows the notion of “one thing at a time”, while the polychrome concept focuses on multiple tasks being handled at one time, and time is subordinate to interpersonal relations. Although the concept of monochronic/polychronic time is very useful, and like the high/low context concept easily observed, the lack of empirical data makes the concept more difficult to apply in research. This is particularly true for research comparing cultures that are seen as relatively close.
Both of Hall’s concepts are therefore extremely useful on the one side, yet very ambiguous on the other. The ambiguity makes it difficult to apply the concepts within the framework of a more analytical approach, especially for comparing cultures that are seen as culturally close. The usefulness for broad based research is also limited by the limit of the concepts to only one aspect of culturally based behavior, rather than a broad explanation of underlying values. 2. 5 Schwartz Value Inventory A different approach to finding (cultural) value differences has been taken by Shalom Schwartz (1992, 1994).
Using his “SVI” (Schwartz Value Inventory), Schwartz did not ask for preferred outcomes, but asked respondents to assess 57 values as to how important they felt these values are as “guiding principles of one’s life”. Schwartz’s work is separated into an individual-level analysis and a culture-level analysis, a major difference compared to the works of Hofstede and Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner who sometimes fail to clearly distinguish between the two levels, although generally claim to work at the culture-level. Schwartz distinguishes between value types and value dimensions.
Although this distinction is similar to some of Hofstede work, it is more pronounced in Schwartz’s work. A value type is generally a set of values that can conceptually be combined into one meaningful description, such as egalitarian commitment at the culture level. Values located in that value-type have other values that are located at the opposite, or in the opposing value type. In the case of egalitarian commitment, this would by hierarchy at the culture-level. Together these two value types form the value dimension of ‘egalitarian commitment versus hierarchy’.
This is somewhat similar to, for example, individualism versus collectivism in Hofstede work, which combined form the individualism versus collectivism value dimension. However, as indicated before, the difference between value type and value dimension is more clearly worked out and pronounced in Schwartz’s work. From data collected in 63 countries, with more than 60,000 individuals taking part, Schwartz derived a total of 10 distinct value types (power, achievement, hedonism, stimulation, self-direction, universalism, benevolence, tradition, conformity and security) at an individual-level analysis.
These individual level value types each represent a number of values which can be combined in a joint ‘idea’: * Power Values located in the ‘Power’ value type represent are likely to indicate an individual that values social status and prestige or control and dominance over people and resources. H * Achievement High scores in the ‘Achievement’ value type would indicate a high priority given to personal success and admiration. * ‘Hedonism’ represents a value type where preference is given to pleasure and self-gratification. ‘Stimulation’ represents a group of values that express a preference for an exciting life, and * ‘Self-direction’ a distinct group of values that value independence, creativity and freedom. * The ‘Universalism’ value type on the other side represents a preference for social justice and tolerance, * whereas the ‘Benevolence’ value domain contains values promoting the welfare of others. * The ‘Conformity’ value type contains values that represent obedience and * The ‘Tradition’ value type is made up out of values representing a respect for traditions and customs. Lastly, the ‘Security’ value type is a value orientation containing values relating to the safety, harmony and welfare of society and of one self. Schwartz Value Inventory Dimensions Viewed in a circular order, these ten types of values can be ordered into four higher order value types: ‘openness to change’ combines stimulation, self-direction and a part of hedonism, ‘self- enhancement’, combines achievement and power as well as the remainder of hedonism. On the opposite side of the circle, conservation’ combines the value orientations of security, tradition and conformity – and self- transcendence, which combines universalism and benevolence. These four higher order value types form two bipolar conceptual dimensions. This type of order is derived from the location of values depending on their (negative) correlation within the circle – hence values situated on one side of the circle will be strongly negatively correlated with values on the opposing side of the circle, yet positively correlated with values located nearby.
In practical terms, this means that a person who assigns high scores to values which are located in the ‘security’ value type is also likely to regard values located in the ‘conformity’ value type as ‘guiding principles of his life’ – and s/he will be unlikely to assign high scores to values located in the ‘stimulation’ or ‘self-direction’ value types. Similar to the value domains types at individual level, Schwartz also derives seven distinct value types when analyzing the values at a culture-level. The seven value types, which can be summarized in three value dimensions, derived from this analysis are briefly discussed below.
Conservatism (later called embeddedness) is a value type that emphasizes the maintenance of traditional values or the traditional order. The value type is opposed to two distinct autonomy value types, which are located at the opposite side of the ‘value circle’ that is produced by Schwartz’s method of analysis. The two autonomy types both promote individual benefit, rather than group benefit. Intellectual autonomy as a value type places emphasis on the perusal of intellectual ideas and directions, whereas the affective autonomy value type places greater emphasis on pleasurable experiences.
Schwartz’s hierarchy value type emphasizes a harmonious relationship with the environment, whereas this value type is opposed by mastery, which emphasizes an active mastery of the (social) environment. Another value dimension can be found with a further two opposing value types: hierarchy versus egalitarianism. The hierarchy value type emphasizes an unequal distribution of power, whereas the egalitarian value type gives greater emphasis on equality and the promotion of the welfare of others (Schwartz, 2002).
It is important to note, that Schwartz’ work represents a radical departure from the previously presented studies, in as far as the measurement instrument is radically different (values vs. preferred states or behavior). This may have two consequences: It does eliminate, at least potentially, the chance of situational variables having a strong impact on the respondents. On the other hand, it does open the argument that when asked about values (rather than specific outcomes) respondents may be inclined to choose a more Utopian answer, which in turn may not be reflected in their actual behavior. . 6 Summarizing the Theories These three theories focus on two main aspects: The definition of culture – and a review of different approaches to research into cultural value dimensions. Firstly, a definition of culture was derived, identifying culture as “a fuzzy set of attitudes, beliefs, behavioral norms, and basic assumptions and values that are shared by a group of people, and that influence each member’s behavior and his/her interpretation of the ‘meaning’ of other people’s behavior”.
The various levels of culture – from underlying values to visible behavior- have been discussed, and it has been shown that culture can be viewed as an onion-like construct, made up out of different levels that each influences the higher levels. A number of ways of classifying cultures have been presented. These range from single concepts, such as the perception of time, to non-verbal behavior (such as Oculesics). This overview also presented more systematic approaches which focus on the underlying values that influence the more surface levels of culture.
In this context, we have briefly discussed the work by Hofstede that derive its respective value dimensions from questioning preferred states or behaviors. Finally, an alternative approach, based on the ranking of values rather than asking for preferred states or behaviors was also presented: Schwartz’s value types, which may provide a more robust approach to classifying value dimensions. However, despite all efforts there is no commonly acknowledged ‘correct’ concept of culture or cultural dimensions as yet. There is also a considerable debate about the validity of the data from which these concepts were derived.
For example, Holden (2002) criticizes the relative reliance on Hofstede dimensions in the business field. In his view, the data is necessarily outdated, as it was collected more than thirty years ago. On the other side, other research suggests remarkable stability in values. 3. Far East Asian Countries: Cultural Aspects 3. 1 Society and Culture In east Asian countries, there is very much emphasis on the harmony of the society. There is always emphasis on the politeness and taking personal responsibility of any act. There are 3 important aspects: * Face * Hierarchy Non-Verbal Communication * Relationship and Trust 3. 1. 1 Face Another important cultural variable relates to face and face-saving. Face is important across cultures, yet the dynamics of face and face-saving play out differently. Face is defined in many different ways in the cross-cultural communication literature. Novinger says it is “the value or standing a person has in the eyes of others… and that it relate[s] to pride or self-respect. “ Others have defined it as “the negotiated public image, mutually granted each other by participants in [communication].  In this broader definition, face includes ideas of status, power, courtesy, insider and outsider relations, humor, and respect. In many cultures, maintaining face is of great importance, though ideas of how to do this vary. The starting points of individualism and collectivsim are closely related to face. If I see myself as a self-determining individual, then face has to do with preserving my image with others and myself. I can and should exert control in situations to achieve this goal. I may do this by taking a competitive stance in negotiations or confronting someone who I perceive to have wronged me.
I may be comfortable in a mediation where the other party and I meet face to face and frankly discuss our differences. If I see my primary identification as a group member, then considerations about face involve my group. Direct confrontation or problem-solving with others may reflect poorly on my group, or disturb overall community harmony. I may prefer to avoid criticism of others, even when the disappointment I have concealed may come out in other, more damaging ways later. When there is conflict that cannot be avoided, I may prefer a third party who acts as a shuttle between me and the other people involved in the conflict.
Since no direct confrontation takes place, face is preserved and potential damage to the relationships or networks of relationships is minimized. How is face-negotiation applied in business communication? Several applications are listed below: 1. The first application of face giving is critical. Beyond face saving, many cultures also participate in face giving (mutual face giving) i. e. , when I lose face, you also may be seen to lose face; or when you gain face, I can sometimes gain face. It is a mutual, interdependent group phenomenon. When face is negotiated, especially in Asian cultures, there usually are larger group implications. . The second implication of face understands: That it is always inseparable from the “webs of relationship” in Asian cultures. In a sense everyone is interlocked: the sense of self is an interdependent, group-oriented concept. For example, in the Chinese term “guanxi”, the interlocking relationship patterns portray “Who knows whom? ” and “Who is in charge of whom? ” 3. The third point is “Who has the greater or lesser face? ” Most Asian people understand how much face they have; to have a greater face, they are more powerful in organizations or know more people in the system.
They learn how to deal with higher level people (greater face); and with subordinates (lesser face) who handle many of the job details and are influential. (Lesser face does not mean that that person has no power. ), but there is a strong link between the concept of power and the concept of face. 4. Another implication is that face is a reciprocal concept. In his recent work with Michael Bond, Hofstede realized that a fifth dimension, involving Confucian dynamism, was previously neglected. One of the major characteristics of Confucian dynamism is face-protection.
Based on the organization management data collected over the past three years, Hofstede and Bond discovered that face protection is very critical when learning to negotiate business deals and to relate to people from Asian cultures. 5. A fifth implication is that Asians tend to use many intermediaries to preserve face. Messages passed on indirectly save one from being face threatened. North Americans on the other hand like to be more direct, get to the point, and like to avoid using intermediaries. But in many cultures, using intermediaries serves a critical function.
For example, in Japan, it is important to have someone recommend you. Also your business card is your face, your identity, which shows your status so you are treated appropriately. In high context cultures, role image appropriateness is critical. 6. The last implication is that face is long-term. For Americans, a contract is legal and binding. Asians like to renegotiate, as if the contract were the beginning of the talks; therefore, they need to get to know the person they are doing business with. Asian business practices focus on the process–on bargaining and on the relational task.
In Japanese cultures, for example, it is ritualistic to exchange gifts, so gift exchange is important if you wish to participate in their cultural practice. 3. 1. 2 Hierarchy Some cultural characteristics will be easy to identify, e. g. whether people are conscious of status or make displays of material wealth. But many rights are assumed, values are implied, and needs are unspoken, (e. g. for safety, security, love, a sense of belonging to a group, self-esteem, and the ability to attain one’s goals). For example, issues of personal security, dignity, and control will be very different as between an able and a disable person.
Similarly, there may be problems of respect when a person from a rigidly class-based culture meets a mediocrity, or where there is racism, sexism or religious intolerance in play. In such situations, identity is fundamental when disputing the proper role or “place” of the other, about who is in control of their lives, and how they present themselves to the outside world. But the reality is more deeply rooted in power relationships: about who is on top of the social, economic, and/or political hierarchy. Family members or long term rivals may be obsessed with their mutual competition.
The relationships between racial or ethnic groups may be affected by economic jealousy. Nations may assert that their political systems are superior. Such conflicts are difficult to resolve because no-one wants to be the loser, and few are willing to share the winnings. Stereotyping can aggravate these problems and prevent people from realizing that there is another way to interpret a situation, or that other groups may define their rights in a different way. Hence, what may appear just or fair to one group can often seem unjust to an opposing group. 3. 1. 3 Non-Verbal Communication
Nonverbal communication is hugely important in any interaction with others; its importance is multiplied across cultures. This is because we tend to look for nonverbal cues when verbal messages are unclear or ambiguous, as they are more likely to be across cultures (especially when different languages are being used). Since nonverbal behavior arises from our cultural common sense — our ideas about what is appropriate, normal, and effective as communication in relationships — we use different systems of understanding gestures, posture, silence, spatial relations, emotional expression, touch, physical appearance, and other nonverbal cues.
Cultures also attribute different degrees of importance to verbal and nonverbal behavior. Low-context cultures like the United States and Canada tend to give relatively less emphasis to nonverbal communication. This does not mean that nonverbal communication does not happen, or that it is unimportant, but that people in these settings tend to place less importance on it than on the literal meanings of words themselves. In high-context settings such as Japan or Colombia, understanding the nonverbal components of communication is relatively more important to receiving the intended meaning of the communication as a whole.
Some elements of nonverbal communication are consistent across cultures. For example, research has shown that the emotions of enjoyment, anger, fear, sadness, disgust, and surprise are expressed in similar ways by people around the world. Differences surface with respect to which emotions are acceptable, to display in various cultural settings and by whom. For instance, it may be more social acceptable in some settings in the United States for women to show fear, but not anger, and for men to display anger, but not fear.
At the same time, interpretation of facial expressions across cultures is difficult. In China and Japan, for example, a facial expression that would be recognized around the world as conveying happiness may actually express anger or mask sadness, both of which are unacceptable to show overtly. These differences of interpretation may lead to conflict, or escalate existing conflict. Suppose a Japanese person is explaining her absence from negotiations due to a death in her family. She may do so with a smile, based on her cultural belief that it is not appropriate to inflict the pain of grief on others.
For a Westerner who understands smiles to mean friendliness and happiness, this smile may seem incongruous and even cold, under the circumstances. Even though some facial expressions may be similar across cultures, their interpretations remain culture-specific. It is important to understand something about cultural starting-points and values in order to interpret emotions expressed in cross-cultural interactions. Another variable across cultures has to do with Proxemics, or ways of relating to space.
Crossing cultures, we encounter very different ideas about polite space for conversations and negotiations. North Americans tend to prefer a large amount of space, perhaps because they are surrounded by it in their homes and countryside. Europeans tend to stand more closely with each other when talking, and are accustomed to smaller personal spaces. In a comparison of North American and French children on a beach, a researcher noticed that the French children tended to stay in a relatively small space near their parents, while U. S. hildren ranged up and down a large area of the beach. The difficulty with space preferences is not that they exist, but the judgments that get attached to them. If someone is accustomed to standing or sitting very close when they are talking with another, they may see the other’s attempt to create more space as evidence of coldness, condescension, or a lack of interest. Those who are accustomed to more personal space may view attempts to get closer as pushy, disrespectful, or aggressive. Neither is correct — they are simply different.
Also related to space is the degree of comfort we feel moving furniture or other objects. It is said that a German executive working in the United States became so upset with visitors to his office moving the guest chair to suit themselves that he had it bolted to the floor. Contrast this with U. S. and Canadian mediators and conflict-resolution trainers, whose first step in preparing for a meeting is not infrequently a complete rearrangement of the furniture. Finally, line-waiting behavior and behavior in group settings like grocery stores or overnment offices is culturally-influenced. Novinger reports that the English and U. S. Americans are serious about standing in lines, in accordance with their beliefs in democracy and the principle of “first come, first served. ” The French, on the other hand, have a practice of resquillage, or line jumping, which irritates many British and U. S. Americans. In another example, immigrants from Armenia report that it is difficult to adjust to a system of waiting in line, when their home context permitted one member of a family to save spots for several others. . 1. 4 Relationship and Trust Building trust is a critical step in the creation and development of multicultural and/or geographically-dispersed teams, which are so common in the pharmaceutical industry. Cultural differences can create misunderstandings between team members before they have had a chance to establish any credibility with each other. Managers of such teams need to recognize that building trust between culturally different people is a complex process, since each culture has its own way of building trust and its own interpretation of what trust is.
To be effective, this process often requires a significant amount of time and communication. Some of the key traits in building relationship across cross-cultural communications are: 1. Mistakes are allowed when genuine respect is shown 2. Seasonal Greeting Cards for building relationships 3. Recommendations from known helps 4. Business relationships are built after personal relationship is established 5. Personal questions might be asked 6. Never refuse a request 7. Foreigners are seen as representatives of their company rather than as individuals 3. 2 Etiquettes and Customs 3. 2. 1 Meetings
Business etiquette is essentially about building relationships with colleagues, clients or customers. In the business world, it is these people that can influence your success or failure. Etiquette, and in particular business etiquette, is simply a means of maximising your business potential by presenting yourself favourably. Business meetings are one arena in which poor etiquette can have negative effects. By improving your business meeting etiquette you automatically improve your chances of success. Comfort, trust, attentiveness and clear communication are examples of the positive results of demonstrating good etiquette.
Cross cultural meeting etiquette involves considering the following points: * Understanding Rank & Status * Business Introductions, Cultural Greeting * Effective Listening Tips * Business Card Exchange * Conservative Business Dress 3. 2. 2 Dining and Table Manners In today’s inter-reliant, international and culturally diverse world economy, cross cultural differences can have an impact on business success. Both at an individual and organisational level understanding the values, etiquette and protocol of different cultures can positively influence your dealings in the worldwide marketplace.
A lack of cross cultural awareness can result in misinterpretations which may cause offence. Such outcomes may end in your reputation being tarnished and your business objectives impacted. Cross cultural understanding and appreciation of foreign etiquette is important for today’s globe trotting business person to avoid such negative repercussions. One area of importance in cross cultural awareness is the different dining etiquettes of the world. Understanding dining etiquette can help international business people polish their conduct and behaviour while dining or entertaining.
Cross cultural dining etiquette involves considering the following points: Seating – is there a protocol as to who sits where? Should one wait to be seated? Is it acceptable etiquette for men/women to sit next to one another? Eating – what utensils, if any, are used? Is it a knife and fork, hands or chopsticks? Is there any etiquette around using them? Body language – how should one sit? Is it bad etiquette to rest elbows on the table? If seated on the floor what is the correct position? Conversation – is the meal the proper place to engage in conversation? If so, is discussing business appropriate?
The food – what foods are common to eat? Is it good etiquette to compliment the cook and how? Does one finish everything on the plate? Is it polite to ask for more? Home/restaurant – what differences in etiquette or protocol would there be? Does one take a gift to the home? Who pays the bill at a restaurant? By way of outlining some of the cross cultural differences in dining etiquette across the world, the following countries shall be used as examples: Dining Etiquette in Japan: * An honoured guest sits at the centre of the table furthest from the door and begins eating first. Learn to use chopsticks – never point them, never pierce food with them, and rest them on the chopstick rest when breaking for drink or chat. * It is good etiquette to try a bit of everything. * Conversation is subdued. 3. 2. 3 Gift Giving Within the interdependent, global and multi-cultural marketplace of the 21st century, cross cultural differences in the approaches to and practices of business people across the world are important to learn. A lack of cross cultural understanding can lead to misunderstandings which may result in offence.
Cross cultural awareness and an understanding of foreign etiquette is important for today’s globe trotting business person. One area of importance in cross cultural awareness is in the different gift giving etiquettes of the world. Understanding gift giving and the etiquette surrounding it can help international business people cement better relationships with foreign colleagues, clients or customers. Cross cultural gift giving etiquette involves considering the following points: * Who is receiving the gift? Is it a person or a group? What is the status of the receiver(s)? * What types of gifts are acceptable or unacceptable? * What is the protocol associated with gift giving and receiving? * Should gifts be reciprocated? 3. 2. 3. 1 Gift Giving Etiquette in China * It is the proper etiquette for gifts to be exchanged for celebrations, as thanks for assistance and even as a sweetener for future favours. * It is however important not to give gifts in the absence of a good reason or a witness. * When the Chinese want to buy gifts it is not uncommon for them to ask what you would like. It would be wise to demonstrate an appreciation of Chinese culture by asking for items such as ink paintings or tea. * Business gifts are always reciprocated. Not to do so is bad etiquette. * When giving gifts do not give cash. * Do not be too frugal with your choice of gift otherwise you will be seen as an “iron rooster”, i. e. getting a good gift out of you is like getting a feather out of an iron rooster. * Depending on the item, avoid giving one of something. Chinese philosophy stresses harmony and balance, so give in pairs. 3. 2. 3. 2 Gift Giving Etiquette in Japan Bring a range of gifts for your trip so if you are presented with a gift you will be able to reciprocate. * The emphasis in Japanese business culture is on the act of gift-giving not the gift itself. * Expensive gifts are common. * The best time to present a gift is at the end of your visit. * A gift for an individual should be given in private. * If you are presenting a gift to a group of people have them all present. * The correct etiquette is to present/receive gifts with both hands. * Before accepting a gift it is polite to refuse at least once or twice before ccepting. * Giving four or nine of anything is considered unlucky. Give in pairs if possible. 3. 3 Business Etiquettes and Protocol 3. 3. 1 Appearance In East Asian countries the appearance is very important. People expect neat, clean and conservative clothing. * Conservative suits for men with subtle colours are the norm. * Women should avoid high heels and short sleeved blouses. The Chinese frown on women who display too much. * Subtle, neutral colours should be worn by both men and women. * Revealing clothing for women is considered offensive to Chinese businessmen. Little emphasis should be placed on accessories. They should be minimal. Watch and wedding ring is ok. * Women should not wear pants in a business situation. Japanese men tend to find it offensive. The colour red is considered a lucky colour in Hong Kong. The colour white is synonymous with death. 3. 3. 2 Business Cards International business today necessitates people travel all over the world for meetings, negotiations and other business functions. Along the way one will meet numerous people that all have the potential to give recommendations, pass over work or provide some sort of benefit.
The business card is the key to remaining in their sphere of contacts. Increasingly business cards need to be translated into foreign languages to ensure the receiver understands who you are and who you work for. However, translating a business card is not a simple as literally translating one language into another. There are many linguistic and cultural considerations one must take into account. In order to assist those needing their business cards translated the following ten tips are presented: 1. Always have your business cards translated by a translator or translation agency.
Your neighbour or friend may be capable of translating but to ensure the most suitable and professional language is used, use an expert. 2. Try and have business cards printed only on one side and in one language. In many countries people will write on the back of your card. However, this is not always necessary and if there is a considerable amount of text you may use both sides. 3. Keep your business card simple. The entire receiver needs to know is who you are, your title, your company and how to contact you. The rest is superfluous. This also helps keep your translation costs down. . Ensure the translator translates your title accurately. In some cases, due to the Western liking of complicated titles such “Associate Director of Employer Solutions”, this is not always easy. It is critical the receiver understands your position within a company. Therefore simplify your title as much as possible. 5. Do not translate your address. All this does is help the reader pronounce your address. If they ever posted you anything the postman will be scratching his/her head. It can be useful to transliterate names including company names.
This then helps the receiver pronounce them properly. 6. Make sure numbers are arranged in the correct format. For example, if for any reason you need to write a date on a business card consider the local equivalent for dates – i. e. in Europe dates are written as date/month/year or in the Islamic world the Hijri calendar is used. 7. Ensure you use the correct language when having your business card translated. If you are travelling to China you would need Simplified Chinese, whereas if you were travelling to Taiwan you would need Traditional Chinese.
Similar differences exist in many parts of the world where language may have political consequences, i. e. the area formerly known as Yugoslavia. 8. Try and research whether there are any cultural nuances that make a business card attractive in another culture. For example in China, using red and gold is considered auspicious. Finally, always learn a bit about the cultural dos and don’ts of giving/receiving business cards in foreign countries. Which hands should be used? What should one say? Where should you keep it? Can you write on it?
Although technological gains over the past few decades have fundamentally changed the way people across the world contact and communicate with one another, it is sill the humble paper business card that acts as the initial glue which binds two business people together. Within the international fold, having your business card translated into a foreign language goes a long way in making an impression and forming relationships. 3. 3. 3 Business Negotiation When two people communicate, they rarely talk about precisely the same subject, for effective meaning is flavoured by each person’s own cognitive world and cultural conditioning.
When negotiating internationally, this translates into anticipating culturally related ideas that are most likely to be understood by a person of a given culture. Discussions are frequently impeded because the two sides seem to be pursuing different paths of logic; in any cross-cultural context, the potential for misunderstanding and talking past each other is great. When one takes the seemingly simple process of negotiations into a cross-cultural context, it becomes even more complex and complications tend to grow exponentially.
It is naive indeed to venture into international negotiation with the belief that “after all people are pretty much alike everywhere and behave much as we do. ” Even if they wear the same clothes you do, speak English as well as (or even better than) you, and prefer many of the comforts and attributes of American life (food, hotels, sports), it would be foolish to view a member of another culture as a brother in spirit. That negotiation style you use so effectively domestically can be inappropriate and when dealing with people from another cultural background; in fact its use can often result in more harm than gain.
Heightened sensitivity, more attention to detail, and perhaps even changes in basic behavioural patterns are required when working in another culture. Different cultural systems can produce divergent negotiating styles—styles shaped by each nation’s culture, geography, history, and political system. Unless you see the world through the other’s eyes (no matter how similar they appear to you), you may not be seeing nor hearing the same. No one can usually avoid bringing along his cultural assumptions, images, and prejudices or other attitudinal baggage into any negotiating situation.
The way one succeeds in cross-cultural negotiations is by fully understanding others, using that understanding to one’s own advantage to realize what each party wants from the negotiations, and to turn the negotiations into a win-win situation for both sides. In cross-cultural negotiations, many of the strategies and tactics used domestically may not apply—especially when they may not be culturally acceptable to the other party. Factors that influences cross cultural communication Negotiating Goal and Basic Concept: How is the negotiation being seen?
Is mutual satisfaction the real purpose of the meeting? Do we have to compete? Do they want to win? Different cultures stress different aspects of negotiation. The goal of business negotiation may be a substantive outcome (Americans) or a long-lasting relationship (Japanese). Protocol: There are as many kinds of business etiquette as there are nations in the world. Protocol factors that should be considered are dress codes, number of negotiators, entertainment, degree of formality, gift giving, meeting and greeting, etc. Communications: Verbal and non-verbal communication is a key factor of persuasion.
The way we express our needs and feelings using body language and tone of voice can determine the way the other side perceives us, and in fact positively or negatively contributes to our credibility. Another aspect of communication relevant to negotiation is the direct or indirect approach to exchanging information. Is the meaning of what is said exactly in the words themselves? Does “…it’s impossible” really mean impossible or just difficult to realise? Always use questions to identify the other side’s needs, otherwise assumptions may result in you never finding common interests.
Risk-Taking Propensity – Uncertainty Avoidance: There is always risk involved in negotiations. The final outcome is unknown when the negotiations commence. The most common dilemma is related to personal relations between counterparts: Should we trust them? Will they trust us? Certain cultures are more risk averse than others, e. g. Japan (Hofstede 1980). It means that less innovative and creative alternatives are available to pursue during the negotiation, unless there is a strong trust-based relationship between the counterparts.
View of Time: In some cultures time is money and something to be used wisely. Punctuality and agenda may be an important aspect of negotiation. In countries such as China or Japan, being late would be taken as an insult. Consider investing more time in the negotiating process in Japan. The main goal when negotiating with an oriental counterpart is to establish a firm relationship, which takes time. Another dimension of time relevant to negotiation is the focus on past, present or future. Sometimes the past or the distant future may be seen as part of the present, especially in Latin American countries.
Decision-Making System: The way members of the other negotiating team reach a decision may give us a hint: who we shall focus on providing our presentation. When negotiating with a team, it’s crucial to identify who is the leader and who has the authority to make a decision. Form of Agreement: In most cultures, only written agreements stamp a deal. It seems to be the best way to secure our interests in case of any unexpected circumstances. The ‘deal’ may be the contract itself or the relationship between the parties, like in China, where a contract is likely to be in the form of general principles.
In this case, if any unexpected circumstances arise, parties prefer to focus on the relationship than the contract to solve the problem. Power Distance: This refers to the acceptance of authority differences between people. Cultures with low power distance postulate equality among people, and focus more on earned status than ascribed status. Negotiators from countries like Britain, Germany and Austria tend to be comfortable with shared authority and democratic structures. When we face a high power distance culture, be prepared for hierarchical structures and clear authority figures.
Personal Style: Our individual attitude towards the other side and biases which we sometimes establish all determine our assumptions that may lead the negotiation process towards win-win or win-lose solutions. Do we feel more comfortable using a formal or informal approach to communication? In some cultures, like America, an informal style may help to create friendly relationships and accelerate the problem solving solution. In China, by comparison, an informal approach is proper only when the relationship is firm and sealed with trust. 4. Effective Communication 4. 1 Overcoming the Language Barrier
There are many ways of overcoming the language barrier to allow for some cross cultural communication. When faced with a situation in which there is no common language these points may help you to get your message across: Say it without words: use hands, arms, legs, gestures, facial expressions and everything else your charades experience has taught you. Use emotions: even in our own language and culture we do not always use language to express fright, frustration, anger or joy. Emotions transcend linguistic barriers. Try out words: sometimes we share common words and we do not know it.
Additionally people from different cultures will have a passive knowledge of English gained through the media. Try saying the word slowly or with a different pronunciation so that people can relate it with their own vocabulary. Draw it: if you really cannot explain ‘milk’ to the Greek shop owner draw the cow, the udders and the milk. Pictures speak louder than words. Most cultures will be able to spot what you are getting at straight away. Ask for help: if there are others around you do not be shy to ask for their assistance. It is often possible to find a willing translator.
Confirm meanings: if you are unsure whether the message has been understood confirm meanings. When doing so do not ask, ‘Do you understand? ‘ as the answer will often be ‘yes’ even if it is ‘no’. Try re-phrasing what you have agreed or discussed. Be patient: the key to overcoming the language barrier is to exercise patience. It is not your fault or the other person’s that you cannot speak each others language. The above points will help you to overcome cross cultural communication problems and ensure you manage to get your message across in one form or another. 4. 2 Overcoming the Cultural Barrier
It is imperative to understand the cross-cultural difference to do an effective communication across cultures. Following figures shows some of the strategies that can be used for effective communication 5. Summary In this paper we have tried to reflect on different theories to better understand the concept of Cross Cultural Communication. Translation covers only part of the problem of working with people of other nations and cultures. Differences in cultural background may affect communication between people of different countries, and International English may be evolving a cultural style of its own.
There are various facets like time and space, personal responsibility and fate, face and face-saving and nonverbal communication which we have tried to cover with an intention to have a better understanding in dealing with the specific countries that we have covered. However these are much more complex than it is possible to convey. Each of them influences the course of communications, and can be responsible for conflict or the escalation of conflict when it leads to miscommunication or misinterpretation.
A culturally-fluent approach to conflict means working over time to understand these and other ways communication varies across cultures, and applying these understandings in order to enhance relationships across differences. In Cross Cultural Communication with Far East Asian countries when you are dealing with people of different countries, treat people the way they want to be treated, instead of the way you think they should be. Genuine respect for their beliefs, opinions and lifestyle is essential. The key to successful communication is relationship building.
The latter can only be achieved by developing an empathy with, and understanding of, the socio-cultural dynamics of different communities. Communicating with those unfamiliar to us does not come easily. The more distant and unacquainted the cultures are the greater the challenge. Therefore, good communication requires the parties to respect, show sensitivity and truly understand each others’ social systems. References Dahl, Stephan, “Intercultural Research: The Current State of Knowledge” (January 12, 2004). Middlesex University Discussion Paper No. 26. Academic Paper by Dr. Brendan McSweeney, Published in Human