Masters of Computer Science Managerial Communication

Factors of differences in intercultural communication | Features of low-context and high-context cultures

Factors of Differences in Intercultural Communication

1. Contextual Differences

2.Legal and Ethical Differences

3. Social Differences

4. Nonverbal Differences

5. Age Differences

6. Gender Differences

7. Religious Differences

8. Ability Differences  

1 Contextual Differences

  • Cultural context is a pattern of physical cues, environmental stimuli, and implicit understanding that conveys meaning members of same culture. But cultures around the world vary widely in the role that context plays in communication. 

High-context culture:

 People rely less on verbal communication and more on the context of nonverbal communication and environmental setting to convey meaning. Rules of everyday life are rarely explicit; instead, as individuals grow up, they learn how to recognize situational cues ( such as gestures and tone of voice) and how to respond as expected. The primary role of communication is building relationships, not exchanging information.

  • Italian, Spanish, Greek, Arab, Chinese, Japanese ( Nonverbal communication)

Low-context culture:

 People rely more on verbal communication and less on circumstances and cues to convey meaning. In such cultures, rules and expectations are usually spelled out through explicit statements such as “Please wait until I’m finished” or “ You’re welcome to browse.” The primary task of communication in low-context cultures is exchanging information.

  • Swiss German, German, Scandinavian, American, French, British ( Verbal communication) 
  • Low-context: Low-context cultures adhere to the law strictly, whereas high-context cultures tend to take a more flexible approach regarding adherence to the law.
  • You can keep your messages ethical by applying four basic principles:
    • actively seek mutual ground: flexible, avoid insisting that an interaction take place strictly in terms of one culture or another.
    • Send and receive messages without judgement: trust
    • Send messages that are honest: Fully aware of cultural biases.
    • Show respect for cultural differences: accept needs of people from other cultures.

3. Social Differences

The nature of social behavior varies among cultures, sometimes dramatically. Social norms can vary from culture to culture in the following areas:

  • Attitudes toward work and success
    •  In the USA, material comfort gained by individual effort is a sign of superiority and hard-working are better than others.
  • Roles and status
    • In the US, people show respect by addressing top managers as “Mr. Roberts” or Ms. Gutierrez”. But in China, people are addressed according to their official titles, such as  “ President” or “Manager”.
  • Use of manners:
    •  The rules of polite behavior vary from country to country.
  • Concepts of time:
  • Future orientation
    •  some companies orient toward future, but some only to the present.
  • Openness and inclusiveness:
    • Asian women, Hispanic American, bisexual, lesbian,…

4.Nonverbal Differences

  • Greetings: Shaking hands? Kissing? Doing Namaste?
  • Personal space: closer or maintaining distance while conversing?
  • Touching: Tapping or getting blessings by a touch of the on their heads?
  • Facial expressions: Shaking heads to say no; and nodding heads to say yes in the United States.
  • Eye contact: frequent eye contact is the symbol of honesty in the US and but in other cultures, it is the symbol of aggression.
  • Posture: Slouch or relax? Sit up or stand up ?
  • Formality: Does the culture seem more or less formal than yours?

5. Age Difference

  • A culture’s views on youth and aging affect how people communicate with one another.
  • In US culture, youth is associated with strength, energy, possibilities, and freedom. Age is often associated with declining powers and a loss of respect and authority.
  • In contrast, in cultures that value age and seniority, longevity earns respect and increasing power and freedom. Asian countries…. 

6. Gender Differences

  • The perception of men and women in business varies from culture to culture, and these differences can affect communication efforts.
  • In some cultures, men hold most or all positions of authority, and women are expected to play a more subservient role. Female executives who visit these culture may not be taken seriously.
  • Many women are entering the workforce these days….
  • Broadly speaking, men tend to emphasize contents on their communication efforts , whereas women place a higher premium on relationship maintenance.  

7. Religious Differences:

  • Sometimes, differences in religion will bring contention.
  • Many companies are being inclusive in terms of religion.
  • Some companies do not allow organized religious activities at their facilities. 

8. Ability Differences

  • Colleagues and customers with disabilities that affect communication represent an important aspect of the diversity picture. 
  • People whose hearing , vision, cognitive ability, or physical ability to operate computers is impaired can be at a significant disadvantages in today’s workplace.
  • Employers can also invest in a variety of assistive technologies  that help people with disabilities.  
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