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Cross-Cultural Communication

All communication is cultural -- it draws on ways we have learned to speak and give nonverbal messages. We do not always communicate the same way from day to day, since factors like context, individual personality, and mood interact with the variety of cultural influences we have internalized that influence our choices.
Another essential lesson learned about the Japanese culture that is likely to influence cross cultural communication is the group orientation aspect of the culture. People from Japan have a tendency of deriving their identity from group affiliations such as a company, school or family (Tamam, 2010). According to the respondent, Japanese prefer performing their tasks in groups, and the group surpasses the individual. According to Huang (2010), Japanese have a tendency of mentioning their group affiliations, such as the company they are working for, before introducing mentioning their name. In this regard, Huang (2010) asserts Japan has always relied on collectivism and internal restraint and restraining from openly expressing emotions, particularly negative ones. Thus, when communicating with the Japanese, it is imperative to refrain from expressing differences in personal opinions in public; rather, the Japanese prefer discussion and solving their differences privately without involving the public and confrontation. The fundamental observation is that the Japanese emphasize on group harmony and conflicts should not be addressed at group level (Huang, 2010).

Communication is interactive, so an important influence on its effectiveness is our relationship with others. Do they hear and understand what we are trying to say? Are they listening well? Are we listening well in response? Do their responses show that they understand the words and the meanings behind the words we have chosen? Is the mood positive and receptive? Is there trust between them and us? Are there differences that relate to ineffective communication, divergent goals or interests, or fundamentally different ways of seeing the world? The answers to these questions will give us some clues about the effectiveness of our communication and the ease with which we may be able to move through conflict.

Additional insights into cross-cultural communication are offered by Beyond Intractability project participants.

The challenge is that even with all the good will in the world, miscommunication is likely to happen, especially when there are significant cultural differences between communicators. Miscommunication may lead to conflict, or aggravate conflict that already exists.

As the site is published by which has its name in the field of newspapers, the contents given are significant and fulfill the desired need of our research topic. Sarah Murray has presented the view of different persons for explaining how cross culture problems arise and affect the business, the reason behind that is miscommunication. Sarah has also discussed the importance of training to employees so that it will be easy to understand the different culture they are dealing with.

We make -- whether it is clear to us or not -- quite different meaning of the world, our places in it, and our relationships with others. In this module, cross-cultural communication will be outlined and demonstrated by examples of ideas, attitudes, and behaviors involving four variables:

  • Time and Space
  • Fate and Personal Responsibility
  • Face and Face-Saving
  • Nonverbal Communication

As our familiarity with these different starting points increases, we are cultivating cultural fluency -- awareness of the ways cultures operate in communication and conflict, and the ability to respond effectively to these differences.

Time and Space[1]

Time is one of the most central differences that separate cultures and cultural ways of doing things. In the West, time tends to be seen as quantitative, measured in units that reflect the march of progress.

Yet sometimes intermediaries can make communication even more difficult. This gives the appearance of bias, even when none exists if a mediator is the same culture or nationality as one of the disputants, but not the other. It is common for mediators to be more supportive or more understanding of the person who is of his or her own culture, simply because they understand them better even when bias is not intended. Yet when the mediator is of a third cultural group, the potential for cross-cultural misunderstandings increases further. As is extra time for confirming and re-confirming understandings at every step in the dialogue or negotiating process, in this case engaging in extra discussions about the process and the manner of carrying out the discussions is appropriate.

It is logical, sequential, and present-focused, moving with incremental certainty toward a future the ego cannot touch and a past that is not a part of now. Novinger calls the United States a "chronocracy," in which there is such reverence for efficiency and the success of economic endeavors that the expression "time is money" is frequently heard.[2] This approach to time is called monochronic -- it is an approach that favors linear structure and focus on one event or interaction at a time. Robert's Rules of Order, observed in many Western meetings, enforce a monochronic idea of time.
There are also some specific things to anticipate for new audiences. Being aware of some of these issues and making the necessary accommodations will save you time, effort, and your company a considerable amount of money.That is the purpose; to make you aware of critical issues.

In the East, time feels like it has unlimited continuity, an unraveling rather than a strict boundary. Birth and death are not such absolute ends since the universe continues and humans, though changing form, continue as part of it. People may attend to many things happening at once in this approach to time, called polychronous.

In terms of interactions based on face-to-face communication, there are a number of issues that emerge when communicating and interacting with the Japanese. For instance, Japanese have a tendency of saving face and dislike being put in a position where they have to admit failure openly. Japanese also consider maintaining eye contact as rude; this is contrary to western cultures where people are taught to maintain eye contacts at all times (Tamam, 2010). The Japanese consider constant eye contact as aggressive and rude; therefore, when communicating with the Japanese, one should refrain from constant eye contact completely. A significant challenge when communicating with the Japanese is that it is difficult to understand the body language of the Japanese, as opposed to the body language of the westerners. Gathering straight answers from the Japanese is often challenging, and it is highly likely that one can make wrong assumptions basing on their body language. In addition, the Japanese emphasize on personal space and are reserved; therefore, interfering with their personal space is unwelcome and can hinder the communication process (Mackenzie & Megan, 2012).

This may mean many conversations in a moment (such as a meeting in which people speak simultaneously, "talking over" each other as they discuss their subjects), or many times and peoples during one process (such as a ceremony in which those family members who have died are felt to be present as well as those yet to be born into the family).

A good place to look to understand the Eastern idea of time is India.

There, time is seen as moving endlessly through various cycles, becoming and vanishing.
Besides cultural factors that are likely to influence communication and interaction with Americans, there are a number of non verbal (body language) that dictate how one should interact and communicate with Americans. According to Tamam (2010), the body language of Americans is relatively easy to understand compared to Japanese and Indonesian cultures. Tamam (2010) also maintains that the body language that one adopts often depicts his/her confidence levels, which is a core tenet of the American culture. For Americans, maintaining eye contact is paramount for effective communication and interaction since it denotes one’s confidence. Appropriate facial expressions are important non-verbal gestures in the American culture; this is because Americans have a tendency of judging an individual basing on his/her facial expressions. According to Huang (2010), Americans prefer friendliness and like to make sure that they are being listened; this can be achieved easily using appropriate facial expressions. In addition, Americans do not emphasize on personal space and physical distance; therefore, communicating and interacting effectively may sometimes require a person to touch; for examples, Americans largely embrace hands being placed on their shoulders (Mackenzie & Megan, 2012).

Time stretches far beyond the human ego or lifetime. There is a certain timeless quality to time, an aesthetic almost too intricate and vast for the human mind to comprehend. Consider this description of an aeon, the unit of time which elapses between the origin and destruction of a world system: "Suppose there is a mountain, of very hard rock, much bigger than the Himalayas; and suppose that a man, with a piece of the very finest cloth of Benares, once every century should touch that mountain ever so slightly -- then the time it would take him to wear away the entire mountain would be about the time of an Aeon."[3]

Differences over time can play out in painful and dramatic ways in negotiation or conflict-resolution processes.

An example of differences over time comes from a negotiation process related to a land claim that took place in Canada.
A second factor unique to international business is the presence of different currencies. Different currencies give rise to two problems. The actual value of the prices or payments set by contract may vary, and result in unexpected losses or gains since the relative value of different currencies varies over time. That each government generally seeks to control the flow of domestic and foreign currencies across their national boundaries is another problem. And so business deals will often depend upon the willingness of governments to make currency available. Unexpected changes can have dramatic effects on international business deals in such governmental currency policies.

First Nations people met with representatives from local, regional, and national governments to introduce themselves and begin their work. During this first meeting, First Nations people took time to tell the stories of their people and their relationships to the land over the past seven generations.
There are six principals in cross-cultural communication. The first principal states that the greater the cultural difference the greater the chance is for the communication ti break down. The second principal says that when communication breakdowns occur during cross-cultural encounters, the breakdowns are most often attributed to cultural differences. The third principal states that communicating across cultures often leads people to be more conscious about their own communication. The fourth one states that cultures vary with respect to the number and kind of “do’s and taboos” that are required of its members.

They spoke of the spirit of the land, the kinds of things their people have traditionally done on the land, and their sacred connection to it. They spoke in circular ways, weaving themes, feelings, ideas, and experiences together as they remembered seven generations into the past and projected seven generations forward.
I chose to write about Hispanics. There healthcare experience is similar to African American, which is my race. First there is the language barrier. They speak another language and it can sometimes be hard to explain things when there is not a translator present. Things get lost in translation. Another issue is that they don’t have healthcare. They don’t have insurance so they don’t go to a doctor and in turn they have poor health (Bzostek, Goldman, & Pebley, 2007).

When it was the government representatives' chance to speak, they projected flow charts showing internal processes for decision-making and spoke in present-focused ways about their intentions for entering the negotiation process.

The flow charts were linear and spare in their lack of narrative, arising from the bureaucratic culture from which the government representatives came.
Which as a set distinguish international business negotiations from domestic negotiations, Salacuse identifies six elements which are common to all international business negotiations. The first is that in international negotiations the parties must deals with the laws, policies and political authorities of more than one nation. These laws and policies may be inconsistent, or even directly opposed. International business agreements must include measures to address these differences. Such measures typically include arbitration clauses, specification of the governing laws, and tax havens. In the early 1980s U.S. companies operating in Europe were caught between the American prohibition on sales to the Soviets for their Trans-Siberian pipeline, and European nations' demands that these companies abide by their supply contracts, for example.

Two different conceptions of time: in one, time stretches, loops forward and back, past and future are both present in this time. In the other, time begins with the present moment and extends into the horizon in which the matters at hand will be decided.
Often intermediaries who are familiar with both cultures can be helpful in cross-cultural communication situations. They can translate both the substance and the manner of what is said. They can tone down strong statements that would be considered appropriate in one culture but not in another, before they are given to people from a culture that does not talk together in such a strong way, for instance. They can also adjust the timing of what is said and done. Some cultures move quickly to the point; others talk about other things long enough to establish rapport or a relationship with the other person. The group that needs a "warm up" first will feel uncomfortable if discussion on the primary topic begins too soon. A mediator or intermediary who understands this can make appropriate procedural adjustments and explain the problem.

Neither side felt satisfied with this first meeting. No one addressed the differences in how time was seen and held directly, but everyone was aware that they were not "on the same page." Each side felt some frustration with the other. Their notions of time were embedded in their understandings of the world, and these understandings informed their common sense about how to proceed in negotiations.

Fourth, international ventures are vulnerable to sudden and drastic changes in their circumstances. Events such as war or revolution, changes in government, or currency devaluation have an impact on international businesses which is much greater than the impact that the usual domestic changes have on national businesses. These risks "require that international business negotiator to have a breadth of knowledge and social insight that would not ordinarily be necessary in negotiating a U.S. business arrangement." By employing political risk analysts, by foreign investment insurance, and by force majeure clauses which allow for contract cancellation under certain conditions international businesses try to protect against these risks.

Because neither side was completely aware of these different notions of time, it was difficult for the negotiations to proceed, and difficult for each side to trust the other. Their different ideas of time made communication challenging.
Active listening can sometimes be used to check this out-by repeating what one thinks he or she heard, one can confirm that one understands the communication accurately. However, even active listening can overlook misunderstandings if words are used differently between languages or cultural groups.

This meeting took place in the early 1990s. Of course, in this modern age of high-speed communication, no group is completely disconnected from another. Each group -- government and First Nations representatives -- has had some exposure to the other's ideas of time, space, and ideas about appropriate approaches to negotiation.

International business negotiators also encounter very different ideologies. Different countries may have very different ideas about private investment, profit and individual rights, in particular. Effective negotiators will be aware of ideological differences. They will present their proposals in ways that are ideologically acceptable to the other party, or that are at least ideologically neural.

Each has found ways to adapt. How this adaptation takes place, and whether it takes place without one side feeling they are forced to give in to the other, has a significant impact on the course of the negotiations.
Besides cultural aspects of Indonesians, there are a number of non-verbal cues that are likely to influence cross-cultural communication. For instance, time is not significant among Indonesians, and it is relatively normal for people to be late. In addition, Indonesians are more reserved; as a result, it is imperative to refrain from physical contact in public when communicating and interacting with them. A significant challenge when communicating and interacting with Indonesians stems from their communication style in the sense that they tend to communicate in a manner that is indirect and subdued. According to Huang (2010), Indonesians do not constantly mean what they say and usually speak in a tone that is subtle; thus, the listener is tasked with picking up the detail through emphasis on gestures and body language. If you lack an understanding of Indonesian’s body language, it is highly unlikely that communication and interaction will be ineffective.

It is also true that cultural approaches to time or communication are not always applied in good faith, but may serve a variety of motives. Asserting power, superiority, advantage, or control over the course of the negotiations may be a motive wrapped up in certain cultural behaviors (for example, the government representatives' detailed emphasis on ratification procedures may have conveyed an implicit message of control, or the First Nations' attention to the past may have emphasized the advantages of being aware of history).

With regard to the America culture, there are a number of cultural aspects that are likely to affect communication with Americans. It is apparent that Americans value hierarchy although it is not emphasized as the case of Japanese and Indonesian cultures. According to Hofstede’s analysis, Americans score relatively low on power distance; this is because of the American view of “justice and liberty for all (Mackenzie & Megan, 2012). In America, hierarchy is only for convenience and plays a minimal role in determining how people interact and communicate. In the United States, an individual is only perceived basing on his expertise and ability to accomplish the task at hand; therefore, one’s gender is irrelevant (Tamam, 2010). Because of the minimal emphasis on hierarchy, communication and interaction is often participative, direct and informal, which is contrary to extremely hierarchical societies such as Japan and Indonesia.

Culture and cultural beliefs may be used as a tactic by negotiators; for this reason, it is important that parties be involved in collaborative-process design when addressing intractable conflicts. As people from different cultural backgrounds work together to design a process to address the issues that divide them, they can ask questions about cultural preferences about time and space and how these may affect a negotiation or conflict-resolution process, and thus inoculate against the use of culture as a tactic or an instrument to advance power.
While other prefer to address each issue individually, some cultures prefer to start from agreement on general principles. Some cultures prefer to negotiate by "building up" from an initial minimum proposal; other prefer to "build-down" from a more comprehensive opening proposal. Cultural differences also show up in the preferred pacing of negotiations and in decision-making styles. However, that individual negotiators do not always conform to cultural stereotypes, Salacuse cautions.

Any one example will show us only a glimpse of approaches to time as a confounding variable across cultures. In fact, ideas of time have a great deal of complexity buried within them. Western concepts of time as a straight line emanating from no one in particular obscure the idea that there are purposive forces at work in time, a common idea in indigenous and Eastern ways of thought.

The participation of governmental authorities is a third element common to international business negotiations. Governments often play a much larger role in foreign business than Americans are accustomed to. The presence of often extensive government bureaucracies can make international negotiation processes more rigid that is usual in the American private sector. Sovereign immunity can introduce legal complications into contracts. State-controlled businesses may have different goals from private companies. State entities may be willing to sacrifice some profitability for social or political ends such as greater employment whereas private firms are usually primarily concerned with profits.

From an Eastern or indigenous perspective, Spirit operates within space and time, so time is alive with purpose and specific meanings may be discerned from events. A party to a negotiation who subscribes to this idea of time may also have ideas about fate, destiny, and the importance of uncovering "right relationship" and "right action." If time is a circle, an unraveling ball of twine, a spiral, an unfolding of stories already written, or a play in which much of the set is invisible, then relationships and meanings can be uncovered to inform current actions. Time, in this polychronic perspective, is connected to other peoples as well as periods of history.
In my opinion these are just some of the barriers that stand in between Hispanics and non-Hispanic providers. To me language is the most common one. When people have this barriere they are less likely to want to communicate because they don’t thing the other party will understand the message they are trying to send. So if they do communicate there will be a lack of enthusiasm and the message will not come across correctly.

This is why a polychronic perspective is often associated with a communitarian starting point. The focus on the collective, or group, stretching forward and back, animates the polychronic view of time.

Tamam, E. (2010). Examining Chen and Starosta’s model of Intercultural Sensitivity in a Multiracial Collectivistic Country. Journal of Intercultural Communication , 39 (3).

In more monochronic settings, an individualist way of life is more easily accommodated. Individualists can more easily extract moments in time, and individuals themselves, from the networks around them.
Today’s workplace is diversifying to accommodate different geographical regions and span numerous cultures. Therefore, it 's hard to understand how to effectively communicate with individuals who rely on different means to reach a common goal or speak a different language. Although, people maybe from the same geographical location, there are some cultural differences that should be put into consideration for effective communication to be in place. The first step of effective cross-cultural communication recognises that the sender and receiver of the message are from two different cultures or backgrounds.

If time is a straight line stretching forward and not back, then fate or destiny may be less compelling.

Another important variable affecting communication across cultures is fate and personal responsibility.

This refers to the degree to which we feel ourselves the masters of our lives, versus the degree to which we see ourselves as subject to things outside our control.
This paper has reviewed cross-cultural communication and interaction among Japanese, Indonesian and American cultures. Some of the issues and concerns when communicating and interacting with people from diverse cultures include variances in cultural aspects and challenges in the use of appropriate non-verbal cues and body language for the different cultures. As a communicator, there is the challenge of adopting communication and interaction methods that are culturally responsive. This is a potential source of my weakness with regard to cross cultural interaction and communication in the sense that different cultures perceive and approach different situations differently; therefore, it is highly likely for a communicator to make inappropriate non-verbal verbal gestures when interacting and communicating with people from diverse cultures.

Another way to look at this is to ask how much we see ourselves able to change and maneuver, to choose the course of our lives and relationships. Some have drawn a parallel between the emphasis on personal responsibility in North American settings and the landscape itself.
With regard to individualism, the respondent points out the significance of the individual in the American culture. This is consistent with Hofstede’s analysis of the American culture, which considers America as more individualistic than Japanese and Indonesian cultures. In America, groups are only established to facilitate cooperation and do not influence the social identity of a person. Huang (2010) points out that Americans do not shy when it comes to seeking information and openly admit criticism and failure. Emphasis is placed on individual self-reliance.

[4] The North American landscape is vast, with large spaces of unpopulated territory. The frontier mentality of "conquering" the wilderness, and the expansiveness of the land stretching huge distances, may relate to generally high levels of confidence in the ability to shape and choose our destinies.

In this expansive landscape, many children grow up with an epic sense of life, where ideas are big, and hope springs eternal.

When they experience setbacks, they are encouraged to redouble their efforts, to "try, try again." Action, efficacy, and achievement are emphasized and expected. Free will is enshrined in laws and enforced by courts.
Communication is the key to social integration. Communication enables people to share ideas, express their feelings and effectively contribute to discussions and debates. In most cases, language poses a great barrier to communication between different cultures or communities. For effective cross-cultural communication, people have to realise the need for knowledge. Without knowledge, cross-cultural communication is almost impossible. This knowledge involves understanding the potential cross-cultural problems and developing means to overcome them effectively. Also, people should recognise the need for behaviour adjusts in the case of personal efforts failure. One should realise the differences that are brought about by cultural differences and be slow at making conclusions and judgement that are culturally biassed.

Now consider places in the world with much smaller territory, whose history reflects repeated conquest and harsh struggles: Northern Ireland, Mexico, Israel, Palestine. In these places, there is more emphasis on destiny's role in human life.

Both of these assumptions are mistaken. Policies alone do not create business deals; companies do. In order to make successful deals business executives will need to be much better educated about international negotiating. International business negotiations require a different set of skills and knowledge, and are fundamentally different from domestic negotiations. "Domestic business dealings probably have about the same relationship to international business as domestic politics do to international diplomacy" Salacuse explains.

In Mexico, there is a legacy of poverty, invasion, and territorial mutilation. Mexicans are more likely to see struggles as inevitable or unavoidable. Their fatalistic attitude is expressed in their way of responding to failure or accident by saying "ni modo" ("no way" or "tough luck"), meaning that the setback was destined.

This variable is important to understanding cultural conflict.

If someone invested in free will crosses paths with someone more fatalistic in orientation, miscommunication is likely.
Knowledge is the key to effective cross-cultural communication. First, it is essential that people understand the potential problems of cross-cultural communication, and make a conscious effort to overcome these problems. Second, it is important to assume that one’s efforts will not always be successful, and adjust one’s behavior appropriately.

The first person may expect action and accountability. Failing to see it, they may conclude that the second is lazy, obstructionist, or dishonest. The second person will expect respect for the natural order of things.
Doing Business Internationally, Second Edition: The Guide To Cross-Cultural Success by Danielle Medina Walker (Author), Thomas Walker (Author)

Failing to see it, they may conclude that the first is coercive or irreverent, inflated in his ideas of what can be accomplished or changed.

Face and Face-Saving

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.

Having knowledge on cultural diversity is the key to cross-cultural communication. Learning how to better communicate with people whose first language does not match with ours does not necessarily mean studying their language and culture. However, it is important to learn the basic about other people culture is paramount. The basics about culture help one engage effectively in greetings and physical contact that is the first step of forming an effective communication. Although most companies offer cultural training across different cultures, it is important for people to increase their understanding and knowledge about these cultures. This entails recognising that some individual reactions and behaviours are culturally driven and they may seem inappropriate to you but to them they are culturally appropriate.

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."[5] Others have defined it as "the negotiated public image, mutually granted each other by participants in [communication]."[6] 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.
Communication is the main part of any culture because nobody can explain how he feels or wants to do without communicating with the other. Before understanding the communication in culture, first we have to understand the term communication. Communication is the exchange of facts, ideas, opinions, information, thoughts and feeling from one entity to another.

The starting points of individualism and communitarianism 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.

Today different experts of communication are giving training to the employees working on international level, so that they can face the challenges of working internationally. The communication training is essential for the people working and living abroad to learn how to behave in particular circumstances.

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.
As you participate in moving information around the world, we want to help you to develop sensitivities to issues that arise. Increasingly, disseminating information around the world happens in different languages, and several media. The first responsibility is to communicate the information, and the second, to accommodate the needs of translators, customers, and end-users, whatever it may be.

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.

The fifth one states that a person should remember that learning what is normal in the culture the are communicating with helps you understand that group. The last principal states that as long as you see others as friendly and cooperative barriers will easily be broken down (Cheesebro, O’Connor, & Rios, Chapter Chapter 3, Cultural Diversity, 2010).

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.
With regard to individualism, it is apparent that the Indonesian culture is group oriented. Hofstede’s analysis points out that Indonesia score relatively low with regard to individualism. Just like the Japanese, Indonesians derive their identity from group affiliations such as the family. In addition, Hofstede’s analysis for individualism points out that Indonesians value loyalty and supersedes a number of societal regulations and rules (Huang, 2010). It is evident that group affiliations are significant in Indonesian culture; as a result, Indonesians tend to make their decisions basing on the views of the larger group. For a communicator, this implies that he/she should not put an Indonesian in a position that is likely to create a conflict between the individual and his/her respective group affiliations. In addition, the concept of hierarchy does not only apply to individuals but also groups (Huang, 2010). A case in point is that money and power determines the significance and influence of a particular group; for instance, a group of high profile figures is considered more vital than a group of their subordinates. According to Hofstede, Indonesians perceive hierarchy as part of their cultural heritage.

Since no direct confrontation takes place, face is preserved and potential damage to the relationships or networks of relationships is minimized.

Nonverbal 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).

When it comes to communications, there are many barriers. Providers communicate differently when it comes to Hispanics. Studies have shown that when providers deal with the Spanish speaking patients they ask less open ended question and probes for patient understanding because of the language barrier (Mayo, Windsor, Sundarwaran & Crew 2007). A seconds study states that when providers relied on interpreters for communicating with their patients, but lack of availability of the interpreters and patient waiting were reported as barriers in using interpreters effectively (Mayo, Windsor, Sundarwaran & Crew 2007). This barrier led providers to turn to English speaking family n members and bilingual staff who made the communication dull (Mayo, Windsor, Sundarwaran & Crew 2007).

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, spacial relations, emotional expression, touch, physical appearance, and other nonverbal cues.
After studying all the six links given on managing across cultural staff, I have selected two links which are useful for me to understand and analyzing how communication helps in managing different cultures. I have chosen two links on the basis of CRAP test which is very effective tool to choose particular link among various.

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.
From the interview, there are a number of factors that emerge about the Indonesian culture that are likely to influence cross cultural communication with Indonesians. It is apparent that hierarchy is significant in Indonesian culture and people are supposed to show respect to those in higher positions (Mackenzie & Megan, 2012). This is consistent with Geert Hofstede analysis for Indonesia wherein the country scores high on power distance, which implies the significance of position and rank (Mackenzie & Megan, 2012). Therefore, when communicating and interacting with Indonesians, it is imperative for the communicator to take into account the importance of rank and position. Hierarchy among Indonesians also stems from gender and age, wherein men and the elderly are higher in the hierarchy ladder. For instance, elders demand respect and their opinions should not be questioned even if they are erroneous.

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.
Cultural differences are an important factor in international negotiations, finally. Different cultures have differing values, perceptions and philosophies in addition to language differences. Certain ideas may have very different connotations in different cultures as a result. Americans and Japanese tend to have a different view of the purpose of negotiations, for instance. Americans see the goal of negotiations as to produce a binding contract which creates specific rights and obligations. Japanese see the goal of negotiations as to create a relationship between the two parties; the written contract is simply an expression of that relationship. What the Japanese see as a reasonable willingness to modify a contract to reflect changes in the parties relationship, Americans see as a tendency to renege. By the Japanese, American insistence on adherence to the original terms of the contract may be perceived as distrust.

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.

In application to local government entities Andrea Williams discusses cultural dimension in conflict and its resolution. The demography and cultural attitudes of the U.S. population are changing. Current statistical research shows that one out of four Americans is of Hispanic origins or a person of color. They would constitute the majority of the American population by the middle of the 21st century. The "melting pot" concept never became the reality. Many groups prefer to maintain their traditions and beliefs and resist assimilation into Eurocentric or Anglo culture, currently.

[7] 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.
Bzostek, S., Goldman, N., & Pebley, A. (2007, September). Why do Hispanics in the USA report poor health?. Social Science & Medicine, 65(5), 990 - 1003.

[8] 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.
One should always assume that there is a significant possibility that cultural differences are causing communication problems, and be willing to be patient and forgiving, rather than hostile and aggressive, if problems develop, for example. Not jumping to the conclusion that you know what is being thought and said, one should respond slowly and carefully in cross-cultural exchanges.


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.

Cross-Cultural Communication: The Essential Guide to International Business by Gerard Bannon (Editor), John Mattock (Editor)

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.
Salacuse describes six distinctive features of international business negotiations. He begins by pointing out two mistaken assumptions about doing business in an international setting. Many economic commentators assume that international business deals will happen naturally if only the correct governmental policies and structures are in place. Corporate leaders assume that they can simply extend their successful domestic strategies to the international setting.

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.

Mackenzie, L., & Megan, W. (2012). The Communication of Respect as a Significant Dimension of Cross-Cultural Communication Competence. Cross Cultural Communication , 7 (3), 10-18.

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. children ranged up and down a large area of the beach.[10]

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.

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Neither is correct -- they are simply different.[11]

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.[12] 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 government 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."[13] The French, on the other hand, have a practice of resquillage, or line jumping, that 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.

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

These examples of differences related to nonverbal communication are only the tip of the iceberg. Careful observation, ongoing study from a variety of sources, and cultivating relationships across cultures will all help develop the cultural fluency to work effectively with nonverbal communication differences.

Guide to Cross-Cultural Communication by Sana Reynolds (Author), Deborah Valentine (Author)


Each of the variables discussed in this module -- time and space, personal responsibility and fate, face and face-saving, and nonverbal communication -- 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.

Huang, L. (2010). Cross-cultural Communication in Business Negotiations. International Journal of Economics and Finance , 2 (2), 196-199.

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.
Cheesebro, T., O’Connor, L., & Rios, F. (2010). Communicating in the Workplace. Retrieved from The University of Phoenix eBook Collection.

[1] Many of these ideas are discussed in more detail in LeBaron, Michelle. Bridging Cultural Conflicts. A New Approach for a Changing World. San Francisco: Jossey Bass, 2003.

[2] Novinger, Tracy. Intercultural Communication. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2001, P. 84.

[3] Conze, Edward. Buddhism: Its Essence and Development. New York: HarperCollins, 1951, p. 49.

[4] For more about correspondences between landscape and national psyches, see: Novinger, Tracy. Intercultural Communication. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2001.

[5] Novinger, p. 31

[6] Okun, Barbara F., Fried, Jane, Okun, Marcia L. Understanding Diversity. A Learning as Practice Primer. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole Publishing, 1999, pp. 59-60.

[7] Ibid., p. 78.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Novinger, p. 65.

[10] Ibid., p. 67.

[11] Ibid., pp. 68-69.

[12] Ibid., p. 68.

[13] Ibid.

Use the following to cite this article:
LeBaron, Michelle. "Cross-Cultural Communication." Beyond Intractability. Eds. Guy Burgess and Heidi Burgess. Conflict Information Consortium, University of Colorado, Boulder. Posted: July 2003 .

A new place to explore and discuss ideas for moving beyond the complex intractable conflict problems that threaten human society.
Beyond Language: Cross Cultural Communication by Deena R. Levine M.A., Mara B. Adelman Ph.D.

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