Building relationship through communication culture and context

building relationship through communication culture and context

Learn how to understand cultures and build relationships with people from other Listening to people also helps us get through our numbness-- there is a real Notice differences in communication styles and values; don't assume that the. cultures into high context (HC) and low context (LC) communication .. problems when building business relationships across cultures. Cross-Cultural Communication Styles: High and Low Context explicitly through the message itself and rarely is anything implicit or hidden. you to adapt your communication style and build stronger relationships with them.

Once you have made the decision to make friends with people different from yourself, you can go ahead and make friends with them in much the same way as with anyone else. You may need to take more time, and you may need to be more persistent. You may need to reach out and take the initiative more than you are used to. People who have been mistreated by society may take more time to trust you than people who haven't. Don't let people discourage you. There are good reasons why people have built up defenses, but it is not impossible to overcome them and make a connection.

The effort is totally worth it. Put yourself in situations where you will meet people of other cultures; especially if you haven't had the experience of being a minority, take the risk. One of the first and most important steps is to show up in places where you will meet people of cultures other than your own. Go to meetings and celebrations of groups whose members you want to get to know.

Or hang out in restaurants and other gathering places that different cultural groups go. You may feel embarrassed or shy at first, but your efforts will pay off. People of a cultural group will notice if you take the risk of coming to one of their events.

building relationship through communication culture and context

If it is difficult for you to be the only person like yourself attending, you can bring a buddy with you and support each other in making friends. We all carry misinformation and stereotypes about people in different cultures. Especially, when we are young, we acquire this information in bits and pieces from TV, from listening to people talk, and from the culture at large.

We are not bad people because we acquired this; no one requested to be misinformed. But in order to build relationships with people of different cultures, we have to become aware of the misinformation we acquired. An excellent way to become aware of your own stereotypes is to pick groups that you generalize about and write down your opinions.

Once you have, examine the thoughts that came to your mind and where you acquired them. Another way to become aware of stereotypes is to talk about them with people who have similar cultures to your own. In such settings you can talk about the misinformation you acquired without being offensive to people from a particular group.

You can get together with a friend or two and talk about how you acquired stereotypes or fears of other different people. You can answer these kinds of questions: How did your parents feel about different ethnic, racial, or religious groups?

What did your parents communicate to you with their actions and words? Were your parents friends with people from many different groups? What did you learn in school about a particular group? Was there a lack of information about some people? Are there some people you shy away from?

Ask people questions about their cultures, customs, and views People, for the most part, want to be asked questions about their lives and their cultures.

Many of us were told that asking questions was nosy; but if we are thoughtful, asking questions can help you learn about people of different cultures and help build relationships. People are usually pleasantly surprised when others show interest in their cultures. If you are sincere and you can listen, people will tell you a lot. Read about other people's cultures and histories It helps to read about and learn about people's cultures and histories. If you know something about the reality of someone's life and history, it shows that you care enough to take the time to find out about it.

It also gives you background information that will make it easier to ask questions that make sense. However, you don't have to be an expert on someone's culture to get to know them or to ask questions.

People who are, themselves, from a culture are usually the best experts, anyway. Don't forget to care and show caring It is easy to forget that the basis of any relationship is caring. Everyone wants to care and be cared about.

Caring about people is what makes a relationship real.

building relationship through communication culture and context

Don't let your awkwardness around cultural differences get in the way of caring about people. Listen to people tell their stories If you get an opportunity to hear someone tell you her life story first hand, you can learn a lot--and build a strong relationship at the same time.

Every person has an important story to tell. Each person's story tells something about their culture. Listening to people's stories, we can get a fuller picture of what people's lives are like--their feelings, their nuances, and the richness of their lives.

Listening to people also helps us get through our numbness-- there is a real person before us, not someone who is reduced to stereotypes in the media.

Additionally, listening to members of groups that have been discriminated against can give us a better understanding of what that experience is like. Listening gives us a picture of discrimination that is more real than what we can get from reading an article or listening to the radio. You can informally ask people in your neighborhood or organization to tell you a part of their life stories as a member of a particular group.

You can also incorporate this activity into a workshop or retreat for your group or organization.

building relationship through communication culture and context

Have people each take five or ten minutes to talk about one piece of their life stories. If the group is large, you will probably have to divide into small groups, so everyone gets a chance to speak. Notice differences in communication styles and values; don't assume that the majority's way is the right way.

We all have a tendency to assume that the way that most people do things is the acceptable, normal, or right way. As community workers, we need to learn about cultural differences in values and communication styles, and not assume that the majority way is the right way to think or behave. You are in a group discussion. Some group members don't speak up, while others dominate, filling all the silences. The more vocal members of the group become exasperated that others don't talk.

It also seems that the more vocal people are those that are members of the more mainstream culture, while those who are less vocal are from minority cultures.

How do we understand this? How can this be resolved? In some cultures, people feel uncomfortable with silence, so they speak to fill the silences. Next, fundamental patterns of communication styles will be introduced, along with a discussion of the relationship between culture and language. Finally, implications of cultural differences in communication styles will be discussed.

Cultural Frameworks Culture has been defined in many ways. Some commonly applied definitions view culture as patterned ways of thinking, feeling, and reacting, common to a particular group of people and that are acquired and transmitted through the use of symbols. Others view culture as a function of interrelated systems that include the ecology e.

Verbal Communication Styles and Culture

It is fair to say that culture includes both objective and subjective elements. These interrelated systems do not dictate culture; rather, we can use them as a general framework to understand culture and its relation to individual and collective actions. A number of approaches have been used to describe and explain cultural differences. This article focuses on two approaches that are most widely accepted and relevant to our understanding of cultural variations in communication styles: Value can be defined as an enduring belief that a specific mode of conduct is socially preferable to an opposite or converse mode of conduct.

Values form the basis for judging the desirability of some means or end of action. Dimensions of Cultural Values Based on a study of 88, IBM employees in 72 countries, between andHofstede identified four dimensions of cultural values: Later, Hofstede and Bond added a fifth dimension, dynamic Confucianism, with long-term orientation refers to future-oriented values such as persistence and thrift, whereas short-term orientation refers to past- and present-oriented values, such as respect for tradition and fulfilling social obligations.

The individualism-collectivism dimension alone has inspired thousands of empirical studies examining cultural differences. More specifically, people in individualistic societies, such as the United States, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and most of the northern and western European countries, tend to emphasize individual rights, such as freedom, privacy, and autonomy.

They tend to view themselves as unique and special, and are free to express their individual thoughts, opinions, and emotions. Individualists also value equality; they do not differentiate between ingroups and outgroups, applying the same standards universally, also known as universalism. In comparison, people in collectivistic societies, such as most of Latin American, African, and Asian countries, and the Middle East, tend to view themselves as part of an interconnected social network.

They emphasize the obligations they have toward their ingroup members, and are willing to sacrifice their individual needs and desires for the benefits of the group. They care about their relationships with ingroups, often by treating them differently than strangers or outgroup members, which is also known as particularism.

Verbal Communication Styles and Culture - Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Communication

In high power distance societies, such as many Latin American countries, most of African and Asian counties, and most counties in the Mediterranean area, people generally accept power as an integral part of the society.

Hierarchy and power inequality are considered appropriate and beneficial. The superiors are expected to take care of the subordinates, and in exchange for that, the subordinates owe obedience, loyalty, and deference to them, much like the culture in the military.

It is quite common in these cultures that the seniors or the superiors take precedence in seating, eating, walking, and speaking, whereas the juniors or the subordinates must wait and follow them to show proper respect.

Similarly, the juniors and subordinates refrain from freely expressing their thoughts, opinions, and emotions, particularly negative ones, such as disagreements, doubts, anger, and so on. It is not surprising that, except for a couple of exceptions, such as France, most high power distance societies are also collectivistic societies. In contrast, in low power distance cultures, most of which are individualistic societies, people value equality and seek to minimize or eliminate various kinds of social and class inequalities.

They value democracy, and juniors and subordinates are free to question or challenge authority.

building relationship through communication culture and context

People from high uncertainty avoidance cultures, such as many Latin American cultures, Mediterranean cultures, and some European e.

Deviation from these rules and standards is considered disruptive and undesirable. They also tend to avoid conflict, seek consensus, and take fewer risks. On the other hand, in low uncertainty avoidance cultures people are more comfortable with unstructured situations. Uncertainty and ambiguity are considered natural and necessary. They value creativity and individual choice, and are free to take risks. In masculine cultures, such as Mexico, Italy, Japan, and Australia, tough values, such as achievements, ambition, power, and assertiveness, are preferred over tender values, such as quality of life and compassion for the weak.

In addition, gender roles are generally distinct and complementary, which means that men and women place separate roles in the society and are expected to differ in embracing these values.

For example, men are expected to be assertive, tough, and focus on material success, whereas women are expected to be modest and tender, and to focus on improving the quality of life for the family. On the other hand, in feminine cultures, such as most of Scandinavian cultures, genders roles are fluid and flexible: Men and women do not necessarily have separate roles, and they can switch their jobs while taking care of the family.

Not only do feminine societies care more about quality of life, service, and nurturance, but such tender values are embraced by both men and women in the society. Societies with a long-term orientation, such as most East Asian societies, embrace future-oriented virtues such as thrift, persistence, and perseverance, ordering relationships by status, and cultivating a sense of shame for falling short of collective expectations.

In contrast, societies with a short-term orientation foster more present- or past-oriented virtues such as personal steadiness and stability, respect for tradition, and reciprocation of greetings, favors, and gifts. The Geography of Thought The cognitive approach views culture as a complex knowledge system. From this perspective, the key to understanding culture is to know the rules and scripts that guide action—how do people make sense of their communication environment, and how does this influence patterned action?

By comparing the ecologies, economies, social structures, metaphysics, and epistemologies in ancient China and ancient Greece, Nisbett proposed a Geography of Thought theory to explain how Easterners and Westerners think differently and why. According to Nisbett, the ecology of ancient China consisted of primarily fertile plains, low mountains, and navigable rivers, which favored agriculture and made centralized control of society relatively easy.

As agriculture required people to stay in the geographical region and collaborate with each other on tasks such as building an irrigation system that could not be achieved individually, complex social systems were needed to manage resources and coordinate efforts.

The ecology of ancient Greece, however, consisted mostly of mountains descending to the sea, which favored hunting, herding, and fishing. These occupations required relatively little cooperation with others. Nor did they require living in the same stable community. Therefore, Ancient Greeks were able to act on their own to a greater extent than ancient Chinese. In addition, the maritime location of ancient Greece made trading a lucrative occupation.

The city-state also made it possible for intellectual rebels to leave a location and go to another one, maintaining the condition of a relatively free inquiry. As a result, ancient Greeks were in the habit of arguing with one another in the marketplace and debating one another in the political assembly.

As less emphasis was placed on maintaining harmonious social relationships, the Greeks had the luxury of attending to objects and people without being overly constrained by their relations with other people. Over time, they developed a view of causality based on the properties of the object, rather than based on the larger environment. Hence, ancient Greeks were considered logical and analytical thinkers.

Analytical thinking is field-independent. Analytical thinkers attend more to focal objects and specific details; what is going on in the environment is less important. They also tend to place focal elements into a cause-effect, linear, or sequential frame, assuming that there is a clearly definable cause leading to the observed effects. On the other hand, holistic thinking is field-dependent.

Holistic thinkers tend to perceive events holistically or within a large context. They assume that there is a coherent whole and individual parts cannot be fully understood unless they are placed within the interdependent relationships.

Metaphorically, whereas analytical thinkers view the world as a line, holistic thinkers view the world as a circle. To provide support for his theory, Nisbett and colleagues conducted a series of experiments to assess whether East Asians would differ from Americans in their attentional patterns.

Build don't break relationships with communication - connect the dots - Amy Scott - TEDxQueenstown

For example, in one of the experiments, they presented animated underwater scenes to two groups of participants, from the United States and Japan, respectively, with a mixture of active objects e. They found that a Japanese participants made more statements about contextual information and relationships than Americans did, and b Japanese participants recognized previously seen objects more accurately when they saw them in their original settings rather than in the novel settings, whereas this manipulation had relatively little effect on Americans.

These findings provided substantial support for cognitive differences between Easterners and Westerners. Analytical thinkers also tend to be logical or polarized thinkers. They prefer logical arguments that apply the law of non-contradiction, which excludes the middle between being and non-being—something either exists or does not exist.

A proposition can be weakened or falsified by demonstrating that it leads to a contradiction. In contrast, holistic thinkers tend to be dialectical thinkers. They prefer dialectical arguments that apply the principles of holism, which assumes that the world consists of opposing entities and forces that are connected in time and space as a whole. Since everything is connected, one entity cannot be fully understood unless we take into account how it affects and is affected by everything else.

Unlike polarized or logical thinking that excludes the middle state, dialectical thinking seeks to reconcile opposing views by finding a middle ground. Dialectical thinkers accept grey areas, assuming that things constantly change. For example, Peng and Nisbett conducted a series of experiments and found that a dialectical thinking is reflected in Chinese folk wisdom, in that dialectical proverbs are more preferred by Chinese than by Americans; b in response to a conflict situation, a significantly greater percentage of Chinese participants prefer a dialectical resolution than Americans; and c when two apparently contradictory propositions were presented, Americans polarized their views, whereas Chinese accepted both propositions.

High-Context and Low-Context Communication Cultures A communication style is the way people communicate with others verbally and nonverbally. Scholars have proposed different typologies for describing communication styles. Of the theoretical perspectives proposed to understand cultural variations in communication styles, the most widely cited is the differentiation between high-context and low-context communication by Edward Hall Bernstein hypothesizes that our speech patterns are conditioned by our social context.

Restricted codes involve transmission of messages through verbal words and nonverbal intonation, facial features, gestures channels. They rely heavily on the hidden, implicit cues of the social context, such as interpersonal relationships, the physical and psychological environments, and other contextual cues.

Code words used by doctors, engineers, prisoners, street gangs, or between family members and close friends are highly implicit in meaning and are known primarily to the members of such groups. Elaborated codes, on the other hand, involve the use of verbal amplifications, or rich and expressive language, in transmitting meaning, placing relatively little reliance on nonverbal and other contextual cues.

The verbal channel is the dominant source of information for transmitting elaborated codes; context is not critical in understanding elaborated codes. Although restricted and elaborated codes are universal styles of communication, according to Hallcultures differ in the importance they place on words, and one communication style tends to be more predominant in one culture than another.

Hall differentiated between high-context and low-context communication cultures and argued that low-context communication is used predominantly in individualistic cultures, whereas high-context communication is used predominantly in collectivistic cultures.

building relationship through communication culture and context

Specifically, high-context communication occurs when most of the information is either in the physical context or internalized in the person, with very little information given in the coded, explicit, transmitted part of the message.

Members of high-context communication cultures rely on their pre-existing knowledge of each other and the setting to convey or interpret meaning, which reduces their reliance on explicit verbal codes. Explicit, direct messages are considered either unnecessary or potentially face threatening.

It is the receiver of the message who assumes responsibility for inferring the hidden or contextual meanings of the message. In contrast, in low-context communication most of the meaning is conveyed in the explicit verbal code. Members of low-context communication cultures expect the message sender to be direct, provide detailed information, and use unambiguous language because they do not assume pre-existing knowledge of the people or the setting.

If there is miscommunication or misunderstanding, the sender of the message is often held responsible for not constructing a clear, direct, and unambiguous message for the listener to decode easily. Researchers have provided considerable empirical evidence for the influence of individualism and collectivism on the use of high-context and low-context communication styles.

On a conceptual level, collectivistic and individualistic values shape the norms and rules that guide behavior in these cultures.