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Chapter 2

Communicating
Across Cultures

© 2014 by McGraw-Hill Education. This is proprietary material


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distribution in any manner. This document may not be copied,
scanned, duplicated, forwarded, distributed, or posted on a
website, in whole or part.
Cross-Cultural Communication: Its Importance

1. Globalization
2. International Business
3. Workplace Requirements
• Communication with international coworkers & customers
• Less misinterpretation
• Improves workplace productivity
4. Enrichment of business and personal life
5. The better you understand other cultures the more efficiently
you can adapt your words, sentences and overall messages.

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What Is Culture?

How would you define culture?


The collective programming of the mind which
distinguishes the members of one category of
people from another.

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Factors Impacting Culture

What is the topography of the country? (tropical


vs. colder countries)
What is the country’s history? (Wars, International
movements)
 What role does religion play in the culture?
(Middle Eastern countries vs. Western countries)

Sensitivity to these factors enables you to conduct


and strive in the business environment & helps
avoid ethnocentrism.
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Factors Impacting Culture

Ethnocentrism-
The tendency to see only your cultural
programming as normal and judging another
culture solely by the values and standards of
your own.

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Body Positions and Movement
• Differs from culture to culture
• Short steps vs. Long steps
– Asian cultures use shorter steps whiles in the US people will
use longer strides while walking.
• Eye Contact
– Indonesian culture: rude to look directly at the eyes of those
holding higher position in the company.
– It is rude to stare in Western cultures.
• Squatting vs. Sitting
– Squatting is a very common business practice in some
countries, we however view it as primitive!!
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Body Positions and Movement

• Head movement
• Shaking the head “yes” or “no” means little in some
cultures.
• Hand gestures
• The “OK” sign (thumbs up) is insulting in many countries like
Russia and Germany. However it is perfectly fine to use it in US.
• Touching can be viewed unfavorable in many
cultures. Chinese do not like touching.

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Factors of Human Relationships
• Time [Monochronic Vs Polychronic]
– Monochronic :Time must be planned for efficient use
especially in Western countries
– Polychronic: Time is viewed as more relaxed especially in
the Middle Eastern and some Asian countries
• Space [Talking face-to-face, Queues]
– Western cultures are more accustomed to have distance
with each other when talking
– South East Asian people are not so particular about
personal space
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Factors of Human Relationships
• Odors
– Some cultures are not too particular about body odor but in
most it is treated as unhygienic.
• Frankness
– North Americans are more direct, upfront and blunt while
the British are more conservative and implicit.
• Intimacy of Relationships
– The existence of social classes, how women are treated,
what questions can be asked to each other.

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Factors of Human Relationships
• Workplace values
– The Indian culture encourages spiritual and human well-
being and productivity is considered second in priority
• Expressions of emotion
– Asian cultures strongly frown upon public display of
affection
– Westerners will accept moderate forms of it
– Laughter is a spontaneous display of joy while, in some
cultures laughing too loud is thought to be rude

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Problems of Language
1. Lack of Language Equivalency
– You will not find equivalent words with the same meaning
in all languages. Ex- Pasta in Italian
– There are grammatical differences in languages
– Equivalent translations difficult
• Back translating: involves using two translators, one
with first-language skills in one of the languages
involved and one with first-language skills in the other
language
– If translations are good, then second translation matches
the first.
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Problems of Language
2. Difficulties with English
– It is the common language used in International
Business
– Multiple meanings of words
– Two-word verbs
– Slang and colloquialisms
– Culturally derived words/phrases

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Multiple Meanings of Words

Possible meanings of run:


•To move fast
•To compete for office
•A score in cricket/baseball
•A type of stitching

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Two Word Verbs

Two-Word Verb Substitute


1.Give Up 1. Surrender
2.Go On 2. Continue
3.Take Off 3. Depart
4.Put Off 4. Delay
5.Figure Out 5. Solve
6.Track Down 6. Find

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Slang & Colloquialism

•We talked about this in previous chapters


•When using cross-cultural communication,
misunderstanding with these words increases.
–Couch potato
–Nut job
–Pumped
–Douche Bag

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Tips: Communicating Cross-Culturally

• Do your research
• Know yourself and your company
• Adapt your English to your audience
• Be open to change

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