Communication has been regarded as the tool that connects the world and consequently introduces different cultures one to the other. From a letter to an instant message via Internet, the world has come together to form a unique place to live. This essay will attempt to demonstrate aspects of how an individual’s culture can affect his/her personal relationship within a group or society combined with the approach to the various communicative styles.
Firstly, the introduction opens discussing how essential the act of communicating is and the importance of bringing a positive result. Secondly, the impact of the ‘acculturation’ created when a child is raised in a different culture and its effects towards learning a new language comparing an infants capability of learning to that of an adults will be examined. It will be assessed the magnitude of the language of silence in Japan and the impact of non-verbal communications in every day life.
Thirdly, the influences of the English language and the necessity which brings cultures to learn it will be briefly observed. With given examples, it demonstrates the difficulties found when communicating and translating one language to the other. It will also show how employers are stimulated to understanding other cultures in order to create an intercultural workforce and how such diversity contributes to their company.
Next, an example about how a business deal could be terminated due to unsuccessful communications will be explained. Low and High context cultures are described on the following paragraph identifying how direct or indirect a conversation may be conducted depending on cultural background. It will be pointed out in what ways cultures make the use of time combined with task management. Where time is vital, the disparities found in monochromic and polychromic societies will be apparent. Finally, the conclusion correlates the factors previously referred which will influence cultures on communicating effectively.
The world is continuously sharing cultural experiences by reciprocal interaction, and for the purpose of maintaining such relations, it becomes essential to communicate well in order to appreciate a better understanding of the whole subject. Understanding how cultures communicate and the existing types of communication styles is vital, in particular for global companies and politicians whose trips to a new environment could cost money if communication is not successfully achieved; hence the need to comprehend other cultures.
Evidence shows how a person’s culture influences substantially on the way they communicate, from speaking stridently together with body language as observed by Italians to appreciating the language of silence in Japan, it can be presumed the impact that the cultural shock in communicating can promote on personal relationships. Edward T. Hall (1959) emphasises that ‘communication is culture and culture is communication’. By assuming that, the link between communication and culture has existed since the early era of civilization where even the idea of other continents was non-existent.
Consequently, different societies have been experiencing obstacles trying to communicate throughout the centuries due to the lack of means of transportation or perhaps for just not being aware of other backgrounds. To be precise, in order to obtain a positive result, the sender must ensure that the message emitted is clear and free of noises or barriers which in the words of Fred Jandt (2001) refers to ‘anything that distorts the message’. Therefore, since the early era of civilization the noise or barrier that prevented communication was the unawareness of other cultures. In the actual globalized world, managers are becoming more aware of the importance in understanding other cultures for the success of international markets.
As a definition of culture described by Geert Hofsted (1991), the patterns of thinking, feeling and acting, learned in everyday life, called mental programs can result in a basic assumption that people are not born with culture. More importantly, a person’s culture will not depend on his or her ethnical background by the simple fact that what is relevant is the characteristic which relates to where and how a newborn is raised.
Hofsted (1991) points out that culture is learned, not inherited and that, in addition it derives from one’s social environment not from one’s genes. Considering this, an example can be found in London where an Indian infant born in his original country is adopted by an English family and lives in the UK throughout the years of a lifetime. The elements of a successful communication on this occasion will be determined by how well the grown up can assimilate the message as an English person other than a person who grew up in India.
It is evident that in multicultural societies such as in London, cultural shock occurs when people find necessary to adapt to the local culture. Fred Jandt (2001) agrees with Hofsted by adding that the speed with which takes people to acculturate will depend on how young a person is. Numerous students from all over the world come to England in order to learn the international language. The younger a student is the faster the culture will be absorbed; in particular, the accent will be learnt with more facility.
Having assumed that and considering a family with very young children migrating to a new country, it is typically observed the variation on accent for the new language between parents and their children when living within another culture. Therefore, adjustments made with the purpose of communicating well and being acceptable by the society in a specific way, will depend on whether their original culture will facilitate their interaction and acknowledgement to the environment.
Understanding the various types of communications in which many cultures use in order to assimilate transmitted messages becomes extremely important in multicultural societies where different cultures meet. According to Addler ; Elmhurst (2005), the language of silence is commonly used by Japanese-Americans and can be mistakenly understood by others as a lack of interest in a conversation. However, in oriental culture, being quiet while thinking could mean that a Japanese person is uncertain and might not want to strongly agree or disagree about the topic. When not enough time is given for the receiver to examine and send a response, a westerner would certainly understand the silence as the end of communication creating a feeling of anxiety and discomfort. This particular example can generate conflict with other cultures that regularly expect a verbal reply when in a dialogue.
In English culture, such behaviour is acknowledged as being rather impolite. When considering body language as an aid to improve mutual understanding, Italy, Spain and Brazil are examples of cultures where non-verbal communication is extensively used. In these countries, speaking combined with a series of gestures is part of the culture. Remarkably, no less than seventy five per cent of all communications has been shown by scientists to be non-vocal (Trompenaars ; Hampden-Turner, 1997) which is amazingly surprising by the fact that in western societies, verbal communication is chiefly used and tends to broaden their culture throughout the world.
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