Some cultures, especially those with a long history such as Greece and Portugal, are quite cautious. They often have religious backgrounds and resist new ideas. At work, people prefer to follow strict rules and do things as they always have been done. Other cultures, like Jamaica and Singapore, often have a younger history and are willing to take risks. They are more open to new ideas, are less accepting of rules and regulations, and are more likely to welcome change.
Read the following text and speak on the main differences between high-context and low-context cultures. Which cultures from Text 4 can be called high-context and which ones low-context.
In a high-context culture, (Japan, India, Middle East etc), people rely less on verbal communication and more on the context of nonverbal communication, actions and environmental setting to convey meaning.
In a low-context culture, (Scandinavia, US, UK, Germany) people rely more on verbal communication and less on contextual cues.
In lower-context cultures, businesspeople try to reach decisions as quickly and efficiently as possible. They are concerned with reaching an agreement on the main points, leaving the details to be worked out later by others. However, this approach would backfire in higher-context cultures because, there, executives assume that anyone who ignores the details is untrustworthy.
Cultures differ in their tolerance for disagreement when solving problems. Low-context businesspeople typically enjoy confrontation and debate, but high-context businesspersons shun such tactics.
Members of low-context cultures see their negotiating goals in economic terms. To high-context negotiators, immediate economic gains are secondary to establishing and maintaining long-term relationships.
However much we learn, we can still get intercultural communication in the global workplace wrong and if we sense we have made an error, it's probably a wise thing to apologize quickly. Acknowledgement of any mistake is halfway to solving it. Working internationally offers many challenges. We need to be aware of not only what we say and how we say it, but also what our business colleagues expect from us. We must ensure we translate our message into the context of our listeners, and not just our words. The more we know about our own language and our own core values, and how to flex these, the more our colleagues will understand, and be able to take an active part in the interaction. The more we understand the cultural dimension, the greater our chance of hitting home with the message we want to give, on the level that the listener understands and feels comfortable with.
It's important to be able to really look at a company's specific needs when it comes to developing clear cross cultural communication skills for your workforce.
Task II. Pieces of advice to travellers
1. Before reading the text “Intercultural communication in the global workplace” share your point of view and comment on the following statements:
a) Your ability to communicate across cultures is shaped by your intelligence, knowledge and up-bringing.
b) Cross-cultural dimensions should be studied and analyzed by scientists.
c) Culture and communication are stipulated by each other.
2.After reading compare your answers with the author’s ideas and name four main types of cultural differences. Exemplify your answer.
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