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This course covers only special topics in intercultural communication

rather than general survey content. We will focus on:

I. Introduction to Intercultural Communication

II. Culture, Communication, Intercultural Communication
III. Contrasting Cultural Values and Perceptions
IV. Coping with Culture Shock
V. Verbal/ Nonverbal Intercultural Business Communication
VI. Intercultural Business Discursive Practices
VII. Ethics and Intercultural Business Communication
VIII. Business Cultures

While specific, these topics remain large enough to permit students to

direct their research and study to applications which have special interest
and use for them.

II. COURSE OUTCOMES (Attitudes & Values; Knowledge & Understanding; Skills)

On completion of the course, the knowledge and critical

perspective obtained should enable students to:

1. understand the role of communication in culture; explain the
components of the communication process; appreciate the
importance and complexity of communication;
2. develop their sensitivity to their own cultural background and
its impact on how they communicate, and increase sensitivity to
communicating with people from different cultures; express
their own ideas and values while respecting the ideas and
values of others;
3. recognize cultural variables; describe factors which affect
communication; describe and analyse culture-specific styles of
4. familiarize themselves with the norms, rituals/ stereotypes, and
taboos of other cultures;
5. learn about barriers to intercultural communication,
ethnocentrism and culture shock; learn to adjust themselves to
another culture and to the problems derived from cultural
diversity; recognise plausible conflict areas derived from
cultural diversity;
6. understand how differences in intercultural communication
manifest themselves in different/ specific professional settings,
(business, politics, diplomacy, etc.);
7. develop verbal and nonverbal intercultural communication
skills applicable to international and domestic business
environments/ develop the effectiveness of students' business

communication skills with culturally diverse audiences, both at
home and abroad; gain more confidence;
8. practice performing business communication activities as they
would be done in other cultures;
9. recognise several culture specific models of company
organisation, the impact of cultural diversity on international
management organisation.


Upon completion of this chapter, you will
- understand why intercultural communication and intercultural business
communication are so much part of our modern life; you will assess the
importance of intercultural communication principles

- understand such terms as intercultural communication, multiculturalism,

cultural diversity, cultural boundaries, cultural differences, intercultural
awareness, interaction

- distinguish between intercultural communication, cross-cultural communication,

and intercultural business communication
- differentiate between:
thought patterns, mentalities, customs, and cultures
international literacy and cross-cultural understanding


Why study Intercultural Communication?

Are people able to understand one another if they do not share a common cultural

How can intercultural business communication competence be built?

What are the benefits of the Value Orientation Method (VOM) in understanding core
cultural differences related to the basic human concerns or orientations?



1.1. Why study Intercultural Communication?

Terms like multicultural societies, pluralistic society, global village, cultural experience,
intercultural understanding, international traveler have become common basics when
approaching the issue of communication today. They are common grounds when one attempts
to answer questions like: How do people understand one another when they do not share a
common cultural experience?, What kind of communication is needed by a pluralistic
society to be both culturally diverse and unified in common goals? How does
communication contribute to creating a climate of respect, not just tolerance, for diversity?
(Bennett, 1998). The social framework in which the concept of intercultural communication
has developed is characterized by cultural diversity and multiculturalism, considered
nowadays to be the realities of everyday life for almost everyone. The growth of
interdependence of people and cultures in the global society of the twenty-first century has
forced us to pay more attention to intercultural issues. In a broad sense, intercultural
communication takes place when individuals influenced by different cultural communities
negotiate shared meanings in interaction (Ting-Toomey, 1999). More specific for our field of
interest, intercultural business communication represents the ability to communicate,
negotiate and effectively work with people from other cultures (Griffith, 2011). Since
communication is vital to international business, intercultural communication - which looks
at how people from different cultures understand one another and work together efficiently
is of even greater importance. Consequently, being an ideal intercultural communicator
involves learning the norms, customs, values and beliefs of another culture, being able to
recognize how these are portrayed through both verbal and nonverbal communication and
successfully incorporate this information into your own communication. (Griffith, 2011)

The general trend nowadays indicates that international business is expanding. Many
companies are going global. Recruitment, sales, management, marketing and workplace
environment are all affected by cultures within an organization. It is important to note that a
company does not need to be international to have different cultures within it. Any
organization with employees from diverse religions, languages or nationality brings different
cultures to a company. Misunderstandings can occur when employees are not knowledgeable
on intercultural communication. These misunderstandings can result in poor employee
efficiency, low retention, and low company cohesion.

1.2. Principles, applications, importance

Inter-cultural communication principles guide the process of exchanging meaningful and
unambiguous information across cultural boundaries, in a way that preserves mutual respect
and minimizes antagonism. These principles stem from the present social and economic
background, characterized by the development of the world into a global system, and the
development of the world economy into a more international and interrelated business world.
The phenomenon is possible due to the development of technology that has enabled a
constant flow of information and ideas across boundaries. Communication is faster and more
available than ever. The internet, for example, opens lines of instantaneous communication
without mediation which tremendously enhances the efficiency of business activity. The
development of transportation as well, has increased face-to-face contact with people from
different cultural backgrounds immensely. Widespread population migrations have changed
the demographics of several nations and new intercultural identities and communities have
been born. All in all the development of multiculturalism represents a key concept and a
prerequisite of the present day business relationships. Consequently, intercultural
communication principles refer to:

Cultural diversity
Cultural boundaries

Cultural differences

Intercultural awareness (rights are assumed, values are implied, and needs are
unspoken, the assumptions may be different, the context may be misleading, etc.)

Interaction (non-vebal behavior, prejudices, intercultural or interpersonal attitude)

Igor Klyukanov in his book Principles of Intercultural Communication identifies ten such
principles: Punctuation/ Uncertainty/ Performativity/ Positionality/ Commensurability/
Continuum/ Pendulum/ Transaction/ Synergy/ Sustainability Principle.

They strongly rely on the concept of culture (which will be dealt with in detail in the next
chapter of our book). For the present discussion we will only point out that items such as
symbols, beliefs, attitudes, values, expectations, and norms of behavior (all making up the
essence of the concept of culture) are at the same time considered valid principles for
intercultural communication proficiency. As far as we consider/accept that all these issues can

be diverse, in other words different from ours in a communicative experience, the success of
intercultural communication is ensured.

Working, meeting, dealing, entertaining, negotiating and corresponding with colleagues or

clients from different cultures cannot be perceived outside the frame of intercultural
communication. This field is of importance to international businesses as it examines
how people from different cultures, beliefs and religions come together to work and
communicate with each other. However, the basic skills of intercultural communication are
fundamentally general communication skills that can be used universally by all cultures and
races. These skills are simply tweaked in a direction that takes the cultural limitation into
consideration. Some examples of such communication skills in the intercultural environment
are: to listen without judging, repeat what you understand, confirm meanings, give
suggestions and acknowledge a mutual understanding.

Starting from these general observations, the main characteristics of intercultural

communication can be established:

Intercultural communication is a form of global communication. It is used to describe

the wide range of communication problems that naturally appear within an
organization made up of individuals from different religious, social, ethnic, and
educational backgrounds.
Intercultural communication is sometimes used synonymously with cross-cultural
communication. In this sense it seeks to understand how people from different
countries and cultures act, communicate and perceive the world around them.

Intercultural communication also studies situations where people from different

cultural backgrounds interact.

Aside from language, intercultural communication focuses on social attributes,

thought patterns, and the cultures of different groups of people.

It also involves understanding the different cultures, languages and customs of people
from other countries.

Intercultural communication plays a role in anthropology, cultural studies, linguistics,
psychology and communication studies.

Intercultural communication is also referred to as the base for international businesses

and requires the development of intercultural communication skills for the benefit of
the business environment.

Being aware of intercultural issues, understanding and appreciating intercultural

differences ultimately promotes clearer communication, breaks down barriers, builds trust,
strengthens relationships, opens horizons and yields tangible results in terms of business
success (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intercultural_communication). However, as
Sherwood Fleming observes, to focus on all the differences that arise within intercultural
business situations can at times be stressful and unproductive in ones business activity. Can
you prevent this? You can if you are aware of the fact that there are things that all cultures
share: requests, offers, promises, declarations and opinions. We use these five speech acts in
our everyday life, as well as to conduct business locally, nationally and globally (Fleming,
The Unique Cry for Help within Intercultural Businesses, 2013). Consequently, why not
simplifying intercultural communication by considering the following types of
communicative interactions:

You request what you want or need

You offer to do what someone else wants or needs

You promise to do what was requested or offered

You declare possible future directions for yourself and others

You express your opinion, either backed up by facts, or not

These basic activities are part of everybodys native language and are included in most
foreign language training methods. As Fleming (2013) observes, by using them we work
together effectively within an intercultural business context. Regardless of the language we
are using, we all understand this simple universal language. Effectiveness, clearness and
simplicity should guide us when communicating cross-culturally, so that we can understand
each other more completely. As Flemming (2013) points out without understanding, there

can be no trust. Without trust, there can be no cooperation. And without cooperation, there is
no future. From my point of view, we build our future together in the words we exchange
today. She considers that communicating effectively is not a luxury in todays fast-paced
international business environment; it is a necessity. In fact, the motto of her web site
designed to create clear and confident intercultural communicators is We build our futures
together in the words we exchange today.

1.3. Intercultural business communication competence

In order to live and function in this multicultural environment as effectively and meaningfully
as possible, people must be competent in intercultural communication. Therefore, demands
for intercultural communication skills are increasing as more and more businesses go global
or international. We realize that there are barriers and limitations when entering a foreign
territory. Without the help of intercultural communication we can unknowingly cause
confusion and misunderstandings. For these intercultural businesses to breach the cultural
barriers encountered when stepping into foreign grounds it is vital for business people to fully
understand the cultural differences that exist so as to prevent damaging business relations due
to intercultural communication gaps.

R. L. Wiserman (2003: 167-190) considers that the competent communicator is the person
who can convey a sense of communication appropriateness and effectiveness in diverse
cultural contexts and who has to be characterized by flexibility and ability to tolerate high
levels of uncertainty, reflectiveness or mindfulness, open-mindedness, sensitivity,
adaptability, and the ability to engage in divergent and systems-level thinking. Stella Ting-
Toomey identifies three steps in developing intercultural competence:

1. To be able to recognize communication styles and to respect each of them.

2. To be able to modify ones listening strategies in order to understand meaning

communicated in a style different from ones own.

3. To be able to adapt ones own communication style to different contexts and, little by little,
learn to communicate in styles which match those of another. (Ting-Toomey, S. 1999: 272)

An interculturally-competent communicator should create a whole person attitude that
helps one to become a Cross-Cultural Bridge in the workplace, connecting people to one
another, according to P.S. Perkins (2008:175); the effective attitudes in intercultural
communication mentioned by Perkins are: openness and tolerance to differences, empathy in
listening, supportive and inclusive communication (2008: 176).

2. A Short History of Intercultural Communication

2.1. A review of the development of intercultural communication study

Although the phenomenon of intercultural communication is as old as human society, the

study of intercultural communication is of recent origin and stems from the American culture.
After the second World War, up to the 90-ies (more exactly, between 1947-1991, period of
time known as the Cold War), the United States economy was largely self-contained because
the world was polarized into two separate and competing powers: the east and west.
However, changes and advancements in economic relationships, political systems, and
technological options began to break down old cultural barriers. Business transformed from
individual-country capitalism to global capitalism. Thus, the study of cross-cultural
communication was originally found within businesses and the government both seeking to
expand globally. Businesses began to offer language training to their employees and
programs were developed to train employees to understand how to act when abroad. With this
also came the development of the Foreign Service Institute, or FSI, through the Foreign
Service Act of 1946, where government employees received trainings and prepared for
overseas posts. There began also implementation of a world view perspective in the
curriculum of higher education. In 1974, the International Progress Organization, with the
support of UNESCO and under the auspices of Senegalese President Lopold Sdar Senghor,
held an international conference on "The Cultural Self-comprehension of Nations"
(Innsbruck, Austria, 2729 July 1974) which called upon United Nations member states "to
organize systematic and global comparative research on the different cultures of the world"
and "to make all possible efforts for a more intensive training of diplomats in the field of

international cultural co-operation (...) and to develop the cultural aspects of their foreign

Communication scholars commonly recognize E. T. Hall as the father of the field of

intercultural communication study (Condon, 1981; Dodd, 1982; Gudykunst, 1985; Singer,
1987). He conceptualized this new field of Intercultural Communication in the early 1950s
when he worked for the U.S. Foreign Service Institute (FSI). He popularized this new area of
communication in his book, The Silent Language, published in 1959, which is considered the
founder of intercultural communication study and a classic in this field. Halls role in the
study of Intercultural Communication is clearly pointed out by Lothar Katz (2009) who
asserts that the value of the book lays in its basic thesis that while much human
communication is non-verbal, it always follows cultural and contextual patterns. The
concepts investigated by Hall are:

'spacial accent,' he analyzes culture-specific behaviors associated with the invisible

zone humans carry around themselves, and
time he discusses cultural views of the role of time, which he also describes in terms
of an 'accent.'

Since the major difference between verbal and non-verbal communication is that the latter is
mostly subconscious, Hall also looks at mechanisms through which children learn these
concepts as a way for adults to familiarize themselves with others cultural context. Hall
introduced terms such as intercultural tensions and intercultural problems (in 1950) and
intercultural communication (in 1959).

The field of ICC has continued to prosper in the United States considering the following
The United States provide many opportunities for people from different cultural
backgrounds to communicate with each;
There are thousands of new immigrants entering the country every year;
The U.S. has large numbers of foreign students and tourists; and
The American involvement in the global economy: the majority of Americas Fortune
500 Corporations are multinational and transnational companies with numerous
employees and offices in many different countries in the world.

There had also been an anthropological tradition in the study of race and culture in U.S. that
contributed to the further development of ICC. Anthropologists such as Franz Boas, a
professor of anthropology at Columbia University and some of his students which included
Edward Sapir, Ruth Benedict, and Margaret Mead, contributed to the later development of
ICC through their studies and research of race and culture. For example, Ruth Benedict is the
anthropologist who coined the term culture shock, which is defined as the traumatic
experience that someone may encounter when entering a different cultural environment.

The major points in the development of ICC in the U. S. are:

Culture and communication were studied separately until recent years, and it was not
until the early seventies that scholars started to relate culture to communication.
In 1970, intercultural communication was recognized by the Intercultural
communication Association (ICA), and since that time, many changes in the
discipline have taken place, such as ICC being offered as a course of study at many
American universities.
In the early 1970s, serious training in the field of intercultural communication was
begun. The first training actually started with Peace Corps members, who were being
prepared in ICC before being sent abroad in the 1960s and 1970s, to countries in the
Asian and African continents.
Sietar (Society for intercultural education, training and research) was set up in 1975;
and it is probably the largest international organization engaged in intercultural
In 1977, an academic journal entitled International Journal of Intercultural
Relations was first published.
The International Association of Communication has a membership of over five
thousand members.

As Hart (1996) summarized, this new field of study originated in the United States in the late
1950s when anthropologists made studies of the native Indians and the problems U.S.
diplomats at the Foreign Institute Service had with people from other cultures. The study of
intercultural communication gained acceptance through training and testing practice in the
1960s and 1970s, formed its basic framework in the late 1970s and has made great
achievements in theory and practice ever since the 1980s both inside and outside the U.S.

In the past decade, there has become an increasing pressure for universities across the world
to incorporate intercultural and international understanding and knowledge into the education
of their students. International literacy and cross-cultural understanding have become critical
to a countrys cultural, technological, economic, and political health. It has become essential
for universities to educate, or more importantly, transform, to function effectively and
comfortably in a world characterized by multi-faceted relationships and permeable borders.
Students must possess a certain level of global competence to understand the world they live
in and how they fit into this world. This level of global competence starts at ground level -
the university and its faculties - with how they generate and transmit cross-cultural
knowledge and information to students. Today intercultural communication not only has
become one of the major academic disciplines in the United States (where the concept/trend
originates) but also is widely acknowledged and extensively researched in all parts of the
world, our University included.

2.2. The Chronological Development of Intercultural Communication Study

(1) The Burgeoning Period

1950s: the conception of intercultural communication study

1951-1956: Halls work at Foreign Service Institute

1959: publication of The Silent Language

In 1958, Lederer and Burdick's The Ugly American first raised mass awareness of
intercultural issues, but the term "intercultural communication" itself did not appear until
Hall's The Silent Language was published in 1959. The same book paved the way for the
study of intercultural communication. According to Leeds-Hurwitz (1990), Hall made at least
eight contributions to the study of intercultural communication:

a) Hall extends the single-culture focus of traditional anthropology study to comparative

culture study, with a new focus on the interaction of people from different cultures. This
focus continues to be central to the present time.

b) Hall shifts the study of culture from a macro perspective to a micro analysis. This shift
encourages the study of intercultural communication in terms of the practical needs of the
participants in communication.

c) Hall extends the study of culture to the field of communication. His extension gradually
develops a link between anthropology and communication studies.

d) Hall treats communication as a rule-governed, analyzable, and learned variable, a practice

that permits communication researchers to theorize about cultural patterns of interaction.

e) Hall proposes that a holistic understanding of a counterpart's culture is not necessary to

intercultural communication. He enumerates several items that can be used to understand
another culture, including the use of voice, gestures, time, and space.

f) The training methods developed by Hall at the Foreign Service Institute are still applied to
the intercultural communication training.

g) Hall's use of descriptive linguistics as the model of intercultural communication research at

the Foreign Service Institute continues to be the cornerstone of contemporary intercultural
communication study.

h) Hall did not only apply intercultural communication training to the foreign service officers
but also introduced it to international business. Today, training people in intercultural
business has become one of the major activities of intercultural communication specialists.

Hall continued his theorizing about intercultural communication in other books, including
The Hidden Dimension (1966), Beyond Culture (1976), The Dance of Life (1984), and
Understanding Cultural Differences (Hall & Hall, 1989). His works continue to influence the
development of the field of intercultural communication.

(2) From 1960 to 1970 Hall's writings have attracted numerous scholars to the study of
intercultural communication. Among them, we chronologically mention:

1961 Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck's Variations in value orientation: their theory proposes that
all human societies must answer a limited number of universal problems, and states that the
value-based solutions are limited in number and universally known, but that different cultures

have different preferences among them. Suggested questions include humans relations with
time, nature and each other, as well as basic human motives and the nature of human nature.
The Value Orientation Method (VOM) proposed by them provides a way to understand core
cultural differences related to five basic human concerns, or orientations. The method has
been used widely in cross-cultural situations, including in higher education, health services,
and conflict resolution. The Value Orientation Method (VOM) represents a tool that can help
identify differences in core values across cultures.

Value Orientation Method (VOM): Description of Five Common Human Concerns and
Three Possible Responses (based on Kohls, 1981)

orientations Possible Responses
Human Nature: Evil. Most people Mixed. There are Good. Most people
What is the basic can't be trusted. both evil people and are basically pretty
nature of people? People are basically good people in the good at heart; they
bad and need to be world, and you have are born good.
controlled. to check people out
to find out which
they are. People can
be changed with the
right guidance.
Man-Nature Subordinate to Harmony with Dominant over
Relationship: What Nature. People Nature. Man Nature. It the great
is the appropriate really can't change should, in every human challenge to
relationship to nature. Life is way, live in conquer and control
nature? largely determined harmony with nature. Everything
by external forces, nature. from air
such as fate and conditioning to the
genetics. What "green revolution"
happens was meant has resulted from
to happen. having met this
Time Sense: How Past. People should Present. The Future. Planning

should we best think learn from history, present moment is and goal setting
about time? draw the values they everything. Let's make it possible for
live by from history, make the most of it. people to
and strive to Don't worry about accomplish
continue past tomorrow: enjoy miracles, to change
traditions into the today. and grow. A little
future. sacrifice today will
bring a better
Activity: What is Being. It's enough Becoming. The Doing. If people
the best mode of to just "be." It's not main purpose for work hard and apply
activity? necessary to being placed on this themselves fully,
accomplish great earth is for one's their efforts will be
things in life to feel own inner rewarded. What a
your life has been development. person accomplishes
worthwhile. is a measure of his
or her worth.
Social Relations: Hierarchical. There Collateral. The best Individual. All
What is the best is a natural order to way to be organized people should have
form of social relations, some is as a group, where equal rights, and
organization? people are born to everyone shares in each should have
lead, others are the decision complete control
followers. Decisions process. It is over one's own
should be made by important not to destiny. When we
those in charge. make important have to make a
decisions alone. decision as a group
it should be "one
person one vote."

1962: Robert T. Oliver's Culture and Communication (1962) Oliver's study focuses on Asian
philosophy and communication behaviors, especially from a rhetorical perspective. His book
establishes a model for the comparative study of communication behaviors between cultures.

1966: Alfred G. Smith's Communication and Culture (1966). Smith's book is a collection of
essays on human communication covering thirteen types of communication studies. Although
only four articles on intercultural communication are included in the book, their presence
confirms the status of intercultural communication as a field of study. The first college class
in this field was taught in 1966 at the University of Pittsburgh.

(3) From 1971 to 1980

1972 Edward C. Stewart published his American Cultural Patterns.

1973 Samovar and Porter published Intercultural Communication: A Reader, and Indiana
University awarded the first doctoral degree in intercultural communication. Many books on
intercultural communication became available in the years that followed, and the publication
of Asante, Blake, and Newmark's The Handbook of Intercultural Communication in 1979
highlighted the achievements of intercultural communication scholars in the 1970s.

1975 Condon and Yousefs Introduction to Intercultural Communication (1975). Condon and
Yousefs stress on cultural value orientations and communication behaviors parallels
Hofstede's (1984) later work on cultural values and Hall's writing on high-context and low-
context cultures in Beyond Culture (1977). Their writing on the relationship of culture and
verbal and nonverbal communication is still important to contemporary intercultural
communication study.

In addition to these books, The International Journal of Intercultural Relations began

publication in 1977. The journal influenced research in the field of intercultural
communication in the years that followed.

Disorder characterizes the initial development of the field. Intercultural communication

scholars pursued their own directions and definitions and it was not until the 1980s that the
field began to move from disarray to a more coherent focus.

(4) From 1981 to the Present Time

Scholars who received formal academic training in intercultural communication in the

late 1960s and the early 1970s began to make their contributions in research and teaching by
the 1980s. Many of their mentors had been trained in rhetoric, including John Condon,

Michael Prosser, William Howell, and Arthur Smith, whose students defined the course of
intercultural communication in the 1980s and 1990s. Five volumes published in the 1980s
advanced an agenda for the study of intercultural communication: Gudykunst's Intercultural
Communication Theory: Current Perspectives (1983), Gudykunst and Kim's Methods of
Intercultural Research (1984), Kincaid's Communication Theory: Eastern and Western
Perspectives, Kim and Gudykunst's Theories in Intercultural Communication (1988), and
Asante and Gudykunst's Handbook of International and Intercultural Communication (1989).
Theory building and methodological refinement characterize intercultural communication
study during this decade.

It should also be pointed out that from the 1970s to the present time the direction for the
study of intercultural communication has been determined mainly by three influences: (1) the
International and Intercultural Communication Annual (IICA), (2) the Speech
Communication Association (SCA), and (3) the International Communication Association

Early volumes of IICA were edited by Casmir and Jain. Starting with 1983, each volume of
IICA focused on one specific topic. Intercultural Communication Theory: Current
Perspectives (Gudykunst, 1983) and Theories in Intercultural Communication (Kim and
Gudykunst, 1988) are two of the IICA volumes. The editorial direction of IICA was strongly
oriented toward quantitative research in the 1980s and early 1990s.

SCA and ICA are the two major professional associations for communication study. Both
associations have a division promoting research and study of intercultural communication,
the International and Intercultural Communication Division of the SCA, and
Intercultural/Development Communication Division of the ICA. In addition to SCA and ICA,
other associations, including SIETAR, Eastern Communication Association (ECA), Western
Communication Association (WCA), Southern States Communication Association (SSCA),
Central States Communication Association (CSCA), and journals sponsored by these associa-
tions also make significant contributions to the development of the field of intercultural

Recently, three additional journals, The Howard Journal of Communications, Intercultural

Communication Studies, and World Communication, a publication of the World

Communication Association, have begun to specialize exclusively in the cultural issues of
communication research.

3. The Content of Intercultural Communication Study

Four decades after Hall's emphasis on the study of nonverbal messages in different
cultural settings, the study of intercultural communication has expanded to cover a diverse set
of variables deriving from the concepts of "communication," "culture," and the combination
of communication and culture. As in the case for the communication discipline itself, the
study of intercultural communication is influenced by traditional disciplines such as
anthropology, linguistics, philosophy, psychology, and sociology.

According to A. L. Rich (Interracial Communication. New York, NY: Harper Row, 1974),
intercultural communication is an ambiguous concept. For the purpose of her study, Rich
argues that the content of intercultural communication can be classified into five forms. First,
intercultural communication focuses on the study of interaction between people from dif-
ferent cultural backgrounds, such as interactions between people from America and China.
Second, international communication focuses on the study of interaction between
representatives of different nations, such as the interaction between representatives in the
United Nations. Third, interracial communication focuses on the study of interaction between
members of the numerically or politically dominant culture and co-culture in the same nation,
such as the interaction between whites and African Americans. Fourth, interethnic or mi-
nority communication focuses on the study of interaction among co-cultures in the same
nation, such as the interaction between Hispanic and Japanese Americans. Lastly,
contracultural communication focuses on the study of the developmental process linking
intercultural communication to interracial communication, such as the developmental process
that led from the interaction between Columbus and Native Americans to the interaction
between First Nation tribes and Canadians. Rich considered that the study of intercultural
communication should include all these five areas. Rich's classification clearly shows that
intercultural communication study should be approached from an interpersonal or rhetorical
level. Except for contracultural communication, Rich's categories remain visible today.

In his Outline of Intercultural Communication (1978), Edward C. Stewart pointed out that the
study of intercultural communication should lead to application in real-life situations. Stewart
emphasized intercultural training programs similar to those from his experience as a Peace

Corps trainer, and based on a comparative culture model of cognition. He emphasized that
intercultural communication training should lead trainees through nine stages of gradual
change, enabling them to:

a) select information among alternative facts they already possess.

b) understand the goal of training and apply it in their decision making.

c) identify or recognize generalizations and concepts to modify their perception of events

and guide their performance at a general level.

d) master the content of the training.

e) sensitize them to cultural concepts that will assist them in their interaction with people
from other cultures.

f) change aspects of their conscious attitudes, such as cultural self-perception and certain
emotional and cognitive perceptions, to reach a higher level of empathy.

g) govern their behavior and emotions in working and in living with people from other

cultures by increasing their adaptability.

h) adopt a changed way of perceiving and behaving so that they can improve their social

performance in other cultures.

i) integrate the emotional and perceptual change which govern their actions prior to the


William B. Gudykunst (Handbook of International and Intercultural Communication 1987)

classified the contents of intercultural communication study by using interactive-comparative
dimensions to divide the field of research into four categories: (1) intercultural communication,
(2) cross-cultural communication, (3) international communication, and (4) comparative mass
communication. According to Gudykunst, intercultural communication includes a focus on
both the "interactive" and the "interpersonal." It deals with interpersonal communication

between people from different cultures or co-cultures, such as that among Chinese and
Americans, or between whites and African Americans, and encompasses the areas of
intercultural, interracial, and interethnic communication identified by Rich. Cross-cultural
communication focuses on the concepts of "interpersonal" and "comparative" and deals with
the differences in communication behaviors between people of different cultures, such as the
differences in negotiation strategies between Swazis and South Africans. International
communication stresses the concepts of "interactive" and "mediated." It mainly deals with
media communication in other countries, exploring, for example, the role media play in
Korean society. Finally, comparative mass communication focuses on the concepts of
"mediated" and "comparative." It deals with the differences and similarities of media systems
in different countries, as in China and Russia. Gudykunst further delineated five subareas of
intercultural communication study based on the concepts of "interactive," "comparative,"
"interpersonal," and "mediated." The table below may ease the understanding of Gudykunsts

Communication interactive interpersonal comparative mediated

Intercultural x x
Cross-cultural x x
International x x
Comparative mass x x

In sum, in four decades of theorizing and research in intercultural communication advances

occurred on several fronts. More and more intercultural communication training programs
developed, including long-term and short-term workshops and seminars. While the content of
intercultural communication has been classified by scholars into different categories, it
maintains its historical focus on intercultural, cross-cultural, interracial, and interethnic
communication that was developed by J. Condon, W. B. Gudykunst, E. T. Hall, R. T. Oliver,
A. L. Rich, and A. Smith. (see


1. Read and state your opinion about the following assertions:

Those who know nothing of foreign languages know no thing of their own.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the
cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be
blown off my feet by any.
Mahatma Gandhi

What I write is different from what I say, what I say is different from what I think, what I think
is different from what I ought to think and so it goes further into the deepest darkness.
Franz Kafka

We should never denigrate any other culture but rather help people to understand the
relationship between their own culture and the dominant culture. When you understand
another culture or language, it does not mean that you have to lose your own culture.
Edward T. Hall

2. Debate upon:

Stephen Covey, in his book The 8th Habit, describes a poll of 23,000 employees drawn from a
number of companies and industries. He reports the poll's findings:
* Only 37 percent said they have a clear understanding of what their organization is trying to
achieve and why
* Only one in five was enthusiastic about their team's and their organization's goals
* Only one in five said they had a clear "line of sight" between their tasks and their team's
and organization's goals
* Only 15 percent felt that their organization fully enables them to execute key goals
* Only 20 percent fully trusted the organization they work for

Then, Covey superimposes a very human metaphor over the statistics. He says, "If, say, a
soccer team had these same scores, only 4 of the 11 players on the field would know which
goal is theirs. Only 2 of the 11 would care. Only 2 of the 11 would know what position they
play and know exactly what they are supposed to do. And all but 2 players would, in some
way, be competing against their own team members rather than the opponent.


An individual language speaker's effectiveness in a foreign language is directly related to his
understanding of the culture of that language (Taylor,1979: 51). As you will see from the
following examples, incidents involving important international affairs have swung on small
hinges. Many regrettable decisions could probably have been avoided if both parties had
been able to approach each other with an understanding of the other's culture and of the
factual issues involved (Taylor, 1979: 40).
Read and comment:
It has been reported once and again how the dropping of the atom bomb might have
been avoided if one Japanese word mokusatsu in the answer to the Postdam
ultimatum had been translated "Let us wait and see", as the Japanese intended it,
rather than literally, as "Let us ignore."

John Seward, in his Views and Reviews" in the Mainichi Daily News, April 13, 1972,
commented that the Nixon-Sato problems over the textile issue were probably a result
of a badly translated remark made by the Prime Minister Sato. Sato most likely had
intended to say "Let me see what I can do about it," but the sentence was conveyed to
the President Nixon as "Leave it up to me." Therefore, when the Prime Minister did
not perform as the President expected him to, "Nixon lost faith in Sato, which indeed
may have been one of the factors behind his (Nixon's) later failure to inform the
Japanese government of his visit to China until the last minute. (see Fengping Gao,
Language is culture, on http://www.jllonline.co.uk/journal/5_1/3LingGao.pdf, 2006:


Bennett, Milton, J. (1998). Intercultural communication: A current perspective. in Milton J.

Bennett (Ed.), Basic concepts of intercultural communication: Selected readings.
Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press. www.mairstudents.info

Ellingsworth, H.W. (1983). "Adaptive intercultural communication", in: Gudykunst, William

B (ed.), Intercultural communication theory, 195-204, Beverly Hills: Sage.

Everett M. Rogers, William B. Hart, & Yoshitaka Miike (2002). Edward T. Hall and The
History of Intercultural Communication: The United States and Japan. Keio
Communication Review No. 24, 1-5. Accessible at

Fleming, Sherwood, The Unique Cry for Help within Intercultural Businesses, (2013)

Griffin, E. (2000). A first look at communication theory (4th ed.). Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill.

Griffith, S. see http://sarahgriffith.hubpages.com/hub/What-is-Intercultural-Business-


Gudykunst, William B. (2003). "Intercultural Communication Theories", in: Gudykunst,

William B (ed.), Cross-Cultural and Intercultural Communication, 167-189,
Thousand Oaks: Sage.

Gudykunst, William B., & M.R. Hammer. (1988). "Strangers and hosts: An uncertainty
reduction based theory of intercultural adaption" in: Kim, Y. & W.B. Gudykunst
(eds.), Cross-cultural adaption, 106-139, Newbury Park: Sage.

Hart, William B. (1996). A Brief History of Intercultural Communication: A Paradigmatic

Approach. Paper presented at the Speech Communication Association, San Diego,
CA. (Available at http://web.odu.edu/webroot/instr/ AL/wbhart.nsf/pages/histICC).




Kim Y.Y. (1995), "Cross-Cultural adaption: An integrative theory.", in: R.L. Wiseman
(Ed.)Intercultural Communication Theory, 170 - 194, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Kluckhohn Center. (1995). User's manual for the Value Orientation Method. Kluckhohn
Center for the Study of Values, Bellingham, WA.

Kluckhohn, F. R., & F. L. Strodtbeck. (1961). Variations in value orientations. Evanston, IL:
Row, Peterson.

Klyukanov, Igor. (2004). Principles of Intercultural Communication/ Edition 1, Pearson.

Kohls, L. R. (1981). Developing intercultural awareness. Washington, D.C.: Sietar Press.

Leeds-Hurwitz, Wendy. (1990). Notes in the History of Intercultural Communication: The

Foreign Service Institute and the Mandate for Intercultural Training. Quarterly
Journal of Speech, 76(3): 262-281.

McGuire, M. & McDermott, S. (1988). "Communication in assimilation, deviance, and

alienation states", in: Y.Y. Kim & W.B. Gudykunst (Eds.), Cross-Cultural Adaption,
90 - 105, Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Perkins, P. S. (2008). The Art and Science of Communication. Tools for Effective
Communication in the Workplace, Hoboken, New Jersey:John Wiley&Sons, Inc.

Rich, A. L. Interracial Communication. New York, NY: Harper Row.

Stewart, J. (1978). Foundations of dialogic communication, in Quarterly Journal of

Speech, 64, 183-201.

Ting-Toomey, S. (1999). Communicating across cultures, New-York: Guilford Press.

Wiseman, Richard L. (2003), "Intercultural Communication Competence", in William B.

Gudykunst, (ed.), Cross-Cultural and Intercultural Communication, 167-208,
Thousand Oaks: Sage.


Upon completion of this chapter, you will
- understand the relation between culture and communication, as well as the
functions of culture
- understand such terms as culture, communication, multicultural collaboration,
cultural awareness
- distinguish/ differentiate between communication/symbolic communication;
cultural universalism/cultural relativism; language/non-verbal communication;


What is culture? What are its characteristics? How does it function in society?
What is the role and importance of culture?
How can one distinguish different cultures?
What does multicultural collaboration involve?



1.1. Culture: definition. Cultural identity. Characteristics

The term culture refers to the complex collection of knowledge, folklore, language, rules,
rituals, habits, lifestyles, attitudes, beliefs, and customs that link and give a common identity
to a particular group of people at a specific point in time. Culture also includes experience,
values, meanings, hierarchies, religion, notions of time, roles, special relations, concepts of
the universe, material objects acquired by a group of people in time/along its history/along its
social existence. Geert Hofstede defines culture as the collective programming of the human
mind that distinguishes the members of one human group from those of another. Culture in
this sense is a system of collectively held values. In a broad sense, culture is cultivated
behavior, in other words behavior through social learning.

Culture is symbolic communication. In fact, communication underlies everything. The
meanings of the symbols are learned or acquired and deliberately perpetuated in a society
through its institutions. Culture systems may be considered as both products of action and as
conditioning influences upon further action. Although on a surface level culture systems are
transmitted through language as the main channel of communication, it is generally agreed
that 80-90 percent of the information we acquire is either sent nonverbally or occurs outside
our awareness. Consequently, we should take into account the fact that apart from the learned
side of culture, there is a tacit-acquired side of culture that includes practices, patterns and
solutions to problems that originates in the ordinary common shared social experience
(Bennett, 1998).

All human beings create culture; their action is meant to respond to basic needs such as: food,
shelter, clothing, family organization, religion, government, social structures the
phenomenon is known as cultural universalism. On the other hand, each culture possesses
its own particular traditions, values and ideals this is known as cultural relativism.

All social units develop a culture. Even in two-person relationships, a culture develops over
time and this includes shared experiences, language patterns, rituals, habits, and customs that
give that relationship a special character that differentiates it in various ways from other
relationships. Examples might include special dates, places, songs, or events that come to
have a unique and important symbolic meaning for two individuals.

Groups also develop cultures, composed of the collection of rules, rituals, customs, and other
characteristics that give an identity to the social unit. For example, issues such as where a
group traditionally meets, whether meetings begin on time or not, what topics are discussed,
how decisions are made, and how the group socializes become defining and differentiating
elements of the groups culture.

Organizations also have cultures, often apparent in particular patterns of dress, layout of
workspaces, meeting styles and functions, ways of thinking about and talking about the
nature and directions of the organization, leadership styles, and so on.

The most rich and complex cultures are those that are associated with a society or a nation,
and the term culture is most commonly used to refer to these characteristics, including
language and language-usage patterns, rituals, rules, and customs. A societal or national

culture also includes such elements as significant historical events and characters,
philosophies of government, social customs, family practices, religion, economic
philosophies and practices, belief and value systems, and concepts and systems of law.

To sum up, any social unit, whether a relationship, group, organization, or society, develops a
culture over time. While the defining characteristics or combination of characteristics of each
culture are unique, all cultures share certain common functions. Three such functions that are
particularly important from a communication perspective are (1) linking individuals to one
another, (2) providing the basis for a common identity, and (3) creating a context for
interaction and negotiation among members.

Each of us has her or his unique personality, history, and interest. Yet all people share a
common human nature. Our shared human nature is intensely social: we are group animals.
We use language and empathy, and practice collaboration and intergroup competition. But the
unwritten rules of how we do these things differ from one human group to another. "Culture"
is how we call these unwritten rules about how to be a good member of the group. Culture
provides moral standards about how to be an upstanding group member; it defines the group
as a "moral circle". It inspires symbols, heroes, rituals, laws, religions, taboos, and all kinds
of practices - but its core is hidden in unconscious values. We tend to classify groups other
than our own as inferior or (rarely) superior. This applies to groups based on national,
religious, or ethnic boundaries, but also on occupation or academic discipline, on club
membership, adored idol, or dress style. In our globalized world most of us can belong to
many groups at the same time. But to get things done, we still need to cooperate with
members of other groups carrying other cultures. Skills in cooperation across cultures are
vital for our common survival and the development of such intercultural cooperation skills is
a must for the modern society.

1.2. Characteristics of Culture

Edward Hall (1959, 1979) is one of the most significant contributors to the general
understanding of the complexity of culture and the importance of communication to
understanding and dealing with cultural differences at the societal level. He is an
American anthropologist and cross-cultural researcher. He is remembered for exploring

cultural and social cohesion, and describing how people behave and react in different types of
culturally defined personal space. Throughout his career, Hall introduced a number of new
concepts, including proxemics, polychronic and monochronic time, and high and low context

Researchers in the field have generally agreed that there are several key characteristics of
cultures that must be taken into account:

1. Cultures are subjective. Wade Davis observes: Other cultures are not failed attempts at
being you: they are unique manifestations of the human spirit. There is a tendency to assume
that the elements of ones own cultures are logical and make good sense. It follows that if
other cultures, whether of relationships, groups, organizations, or societies look different,
those differences are often considered to be negative, illogical, and sometimes nonsensical.
People who are used to informal meetings of a group might think that adherence to formal
meeting rules is strange and stilted. Employees in an organization where suits are worn every
day may react with cynicism and questioning when they enter an organization where casual
attire is standard practice. With regard to culture, the tendency for many people is to equate
different with wrong, even though all cultural elements come about through essentially
identical communication processes. In other words, they use to think that our way is the best
way. This attitude is called ethnocentrism and produces a lot of damage in intercultural
relations. H. C. Triandis (1994) highlights that having the capacity to avoid ethnocentrism
represents the foundation of intercultural communication competence.

2. Cultures change over time, they are dynamic. In fact, cultures are ever changing, though
the change is sometimes very slow and imperceptible. Many forces influence cultural change.
Since cultures are created through communication, it is also through communication between
individuals that cultures change over time. Each person involved in a communication
encounter brings the sum of his or her own experiences from other (past or present) culture
memberships. In one sense, any encounter between individuals in new relationships, groups,
organizations, or societies is an intercultural communication event, and these varying cultural
encounters influence the individual and the cultures over time. Travel and communication
technologies greatly accelerate the movement of messages from one cultural context to
another, and in small and large ways, cultures come to influence one another through
communication. Phrases such as melting pot, world community, and global village
speak to the inevitability of intercultural influence and change.
3. Cultures are largely invisible. Much of what characterizes cultures of relationships, groups,
organizations, or societies is invisible to its members. Language, of course, is visible, as are
greeting conventions, special symbols, places, and spaces. However, the special and defining
meanings that these symbols, greetings, places, and spaces have for individuals in a culture
are far less visible. Consequently, opportunities to see culture and the dynamic relationship
that exists between culture and communication are few. Two such opportunities do occur
when there are violations of cultural conventions or when there is cross-cultural contact.

Someone violates an accepted cultural convention, ritual, or custom - for example, by

speaking in a foreign language, standing closer than usual while conversing, or discussing
topics that are typically not discussed openly. In such a case the other members of the culture
become aware that something inappropriate is occurring. When normal cultural practices
are occurring, members of the culture think little of it, but when violations occur, the
members are reminded of the pervasive role that culture has on daily life.

When visiting other groups, organizations, and, especially, other societies, people are often
confronted by, and therefore become aware of, different customs, rituals, and conventions.
These situations often are associated with some awkwardness, as the people strive to
understand and sometimes to adapt to the characteristics of the new culture. In these
circumstances, again, one gains a glimpse of culture and the processes by which people
create and adapt to culture.

4. Cultures are influenced by media. All institutions within society facilitate communication,
and in that way, they all contribute to the creation, spread, and evolution of culture. However,
communication media such as television, film, radio, newspapers, compact discs, magazines,
computers, and the internet play a particularly important role. Because media extend human
capacities for creating, duplicating, transmitting, and storing messages, they also extend and
amplify culture-building activities. By means of such communication technology, messages
are transmitted across time and space, stored, and later retrieved and used. Television
programs, films, websites, video games, and compact discs are created through human
activity and therefore reflect and further extend the cultural perspectives of their creators.
They come to take on a life of their own, quite distinct and separate from their creators, as
they are transmitted and shared around the increasingly global community.

5. Cultures depend on communication. Understanding the nature of culture in relationship to
communication is helpful in a number of ways. First, it helps to explain the origin of
differences between the practices, beliefs, values, and customs of various groups and
societies, and it provides a reminder of the communication process by which these
differences came into being. This knowledge can and should heighten peoples tolerance for
cultural differences. Second, it helps to explain the process that individuals go through in
adapting to new relationships, groups, organizations, and societies and the cultures of each.
Third, it underscores the importance of communication as a bridge between cultures and as a
force behind cultural change.

6. Cultures are shaped by communication. A number of questions also concern researchers

and policymakers in this area. As communication increases between individuals, groups, and
countries, does this mean that cultural differences and traditions will inevitably erode
altogether? Will the cultures of individuals from groups, organizations, and societies that
have great access to and control of communication media overpower those in cultures that
have fewer resources and less access and control? Can knowledge be used to help individuals
more comfortably and effectively adapt to new relationships, groups, organizations, and
societies? The challenge of finding an appropriate answer to these issues makes this area an
important one for continued examination by scholars and practitioners.

1. 3. The Relationship between Communication and Culture

Cultures are created through communication; that is, communication is the means of human
interaction through which cultural characteristics (customs, roles, rules, rituals, laws, or other
patterns) are created and shared. Cultures are a natural by-product of social interaction. In a
sense, cultures are the residue of social communication. Without communication and
communication media, it would be impossible to preserve and pass along cultural
characteristics from one place and time to another. One can say, therefore, that culture is
created, shaped, transmitted, and learned through communication. The reverse is also the
case; that is, communication practices are largely created, shaped, and transmitted by culture.

The communication-culture relationship has to be approached in terms of ongoing

communication processes rather than a single communication event. While communicating,
the members of a group bring with them individual thought and behavioral patterns from
previous communication experiences and from other cultures of which they are, or have been,
a part. As individuals start to engage in communication with the other members of the group,
they begin to create a set of shared experiences and ways of talking about them. If the group
continues to interact, a set of distinguishing history, patterns, customs, and rituals will evolve.
New members would in turn influence the group culture as they become a part of it. In a
reciprocal fashion, this reshaped culture shapes the communication practices of current and
future group members. This is true with any culture; communication shapes culture, and
culture shapes communication.



We all communicate with others all the time -- in our homes, in our workplaces, in the groups
we belong to, and in the community. No matter how well we think we understand each other,
communication is hard. "Culture" is often at the root of communication challenges. Our
culture influences how we approach problems, and how we participate in groups and in
communities. When we participate in groups we are often surprised at how differently people
approach their work together.

As people from different cultural groups take on the exciting challenge of working together,
cultural values sometimes conflict. We can misunderstand each other, and react in ways that
can hinder what are otherwise promising partnerships. Oftentimes, we aren't aware that
culture is acting upon us. Sometimes, we are not even aware that we have cultural values or
assumptions that are different from others'. Therefore we should be aware that cultural
differences do exist and influence the way we communicate. The more global, interconnected
world we live in urges us to recognize that presently, there is a common requirement for a
business person (and not only) to develop his or her ability to work effectively with people
from other nations and ethnicities, speaking different languages and possessing varied values
and beliefs. Samovar, Porter and McDaniel (2011) point out that in a culturally diverse
workforce the manager who understands that there are variations in cultural values is more
apt to be successful. (see chapter Approaches to intercultural culture).

Anthropologists Kevin Avruch and Peter Black (1993) explain the importance of culture
specificity throughout the process of communication: ...One's own culture provides the
"lens" through which we view the world; the "logic"... by which we order it; the
"grammar" ... by which it makes sense. () In other words, culture is central to what we see,
how we make sense of what we see, and how we express ourselves. Intercultural
communication mainly involves the understanding of national cultures (Samovar, Porter &
Jain 1981) but since the term culture is quite contestable, some researchers consider that
intercultural communication refers only to communication among individuals from different
nationalities (Gudykunst, W. B. 2003) while others assert that communicating
interculturally includes inter-ethnic, inter-religious, inter-regional communication (Martin &
Nakayama 2007).

Two terms should be mentioned at this point of discussion: enculturation and acculturation.
The first is defined by Perkins (2008: 156) as the process of socialization experienced by a
collective group of people for the purpose of maintaining and agreed-upon worldview of
values, attitudes, and beliefs within a common symbol system and it has an important role in
regulating the relationship between the dominant culture and co-cultures. The second,
acculturation is the process of being socialized into the dominant culture while maintaining
identity and fluidity within their own. (Perkins, 2008: 157)

There are Six Fundamental Patterns of Cultural Difference:

1. Different Communications Styles

2. Different Attitudes Toward Conflict

3. Different Approaches to Completing Tasks

4. Different Decision-Making Styles

5. Different Attitudes Toward Disclosure

6. Different Approaches to Knowing

By describing them, we can more easily be aware of the causes of cross-cultural

communication difficulties.

1. Different Communication Styles

The way people communicate varies widely between, and even within, cultures. One aspect
of communication style is language usage. Across cultures, some words and phrases are used
in different ways. For example, even in countries that share the English language, the
meaning of "yes" varies from "maybe, I'll consider it" to "definitely so," with many shades in

Another major aspect of communication style is the degree of importance given to non-verbal
communication. Non-verbal communication includes not only facial expressions and
gestures; it also involves seating arrangements, personal distance, and sense of time. In
addition, different norms regarding the appropriate degree of assertiveness in communicating
can add to cultural misunderstandings. For instance, some people typically consider raised
voices to be a sign that a fight has begun, while others often feel that an increase in volume is
a sign of an exciting conversation among friends. Thus, some may react with greater alarm to
a loud discussion than others.

2. Different Attitudes Toward Conflict

Some cultures view conflict as a positive thing, while others view it as something to be
avoided. In the U.S., conflict is not usually desirable; but people often are encouraged to deal
directly with conflicts that do arise. In fact, face-to-face meetings customarily are
recommended as the way to work through whatever problems exist. In contrast, in many
Eastern countries, open conflict is experienced as embarrassing or demeaning; as a rule,
differences are best worked out quietly. A written exchange might be the favored means to
address the conflict.

3. Different Approaches to Completing Tasks

From culture to culture, there are different ways that people move toward completing tasks.
Some reasons include different access to resources, different judgments of the rewards
associated with task completion, different notions of time, and varied ideas about how
relationship-building and task-oriented work should go together.

When it comes to working together effectively on a task, cultures differ with respect to the
importance placed on establishing relationships early on in the collaboration. A case in point,
Asian and Hispanic cultures tend to attach more value to developing relationships at the

beginning of a shared project and more emphasis on task completion toward the end as
compared with European-Americans. European-Americans tend to focus immediately on the
task at hand, and let relationships develop as they work on the task. This does not mean that
people from any one of these cultural backgrounds are more or less committed to
accomplishing the task or value relationships more or less; it means they may pursue them

4. Different Decision-Making Styles

The roles individuals play in decision-making vary widely from culture to culture. For
example, in the U.S., decisions are frequently delegated -- that is, an official assigns
responsibility for a particular matter to a subordinate. In many Southern European and Latin
American countries, there is a strong value placed on holding decision-making
responsibilities oneself. When decisions are made by groups of people, majority rule is a
common approach in the U.S.; in Japan consensus is the preferred mode.

5. Different Attitudes Toward Disclosure

In some cultures, it is not appropriate to be frank about emotions, about the reasons behind a
conflict or a misunderstanding, or about personal information. When you are dealing with a
conflict, be mindful that people may differ in what they feel comfortable revealing. Questions
that may seem natural to you - What was the conflict about? What was your role in the
conflict? What was the sequence of events? - may seem intrusive to others.

6. Different Approaches to Knowing

Notable differences occur among cultural groups when it comes to epistemologies -- that is,
the ways people come to know things. European cultures tend to consider information
acquired through cognitive means, such as counting and measuring, more valid than other
ways of coming to know things. Compare that to African cultures' preference for affective
ways of knowing, including symbolic imagery and rhythm. Asian cultures' epistemologies
tend to emphasize the validity of knowledge gained through striving toward transcendence.
(see http://www.pbs.org/ampu/crosscult.html)

These different approaches to knowing could affect ways of analyzing a community problem
or finding ways to resolve it. Some members of your group may want to do library research

to understand a shared problem better and identify possible solutions. Others may prefer to
visit places and people who have experienced challenges like the ones you are facing, and get
a feeling for what has worked elsewhere.

Apart from these basic differences, Martin Hahn (2005) identifies several additional
particular characteristics cultures may have; these traits can also affect communication:
stability, complexity (cultures vary in the accessibility of information, composition (some
cultures are made up of many diverse subcultures), acceptance (friendly, cooperative vs.
hostile or detached cultures).

3. Diversity and differences in the workplace

In addition to helping us to understand ourselves and our own cultural frames of reference,
the knowledge of these six patterns of cultural difference can help us to understand the people
who are different from us. An appreciation of patterns of cultural difference can assist us in
processing what it means to be different in ways that are respectful of others, not faultfinding
or damaging.

Anthropologists Avruch and Black have noted that, when faced by an interaction that we do
not understand, people tend to interpret the others involved as "abnormal," "weird," or
"wrong." This tendency gives rise on the individual level to prejudice. Consequently, it is
vital that we learn to control the human tendency to translate "different from me" into "less
than me" and to avoid the my way is the best way attitude which leads to ethnocentrism. It
is true, we all have preferences, and may have even prejudices or may fall into the trap of
stereotyping (generalizations formed out of prejudice, without accurate evidence).
Nevertheless, a far better attitude is to be aware of the fact that people, the way they are -
unique, with different life experiences and world views, are continuously striving to fit into
the present global community. The more we help each other to adjust and integrate into the
global community, the more efficient intercultural communicators we become.

We can also learn to collaborate across cultural lines as individuals and as a society.
Awareness of cultural differences doesn't have to divide us from each other. It doesn't have to
paralyze us either, for fear of not saying the "right thing." In fact, becoming more aware of
our cultural differences, as well as exploring our similarities, can help us communicate with

each other more effectively. Recognizing where cultural differences are at work is the first
step toward understanding and respecting each other.

Learning about different ways that people communicate can enrich our lives. People's
different communication styles reflect deeper philosophies and world views which are the
foundation of their culture. Understanding these deeper philosophies gives us a broader
picture of what the world has to offer us. So try to be aware of language barriers in order to
prevent them.

Learning about people's cultures has the potential to give us a mirror image of our own. So,
be aware of differing social values, of differing status symbols and how to demonstrate them,
of concepts and time and space, of body language and different etiquette rules, of cultural
contexts. Thus, you have the opportunity to challenge your assumptions about the "right" way
of doing things, and consider a variety of approaches. You have a chance to learn new ways
to solve problems that perhaps you had previously given up on, accepting the difficulties as
"just the way things are."

Lastly, if we are open to learning about people from other cultures, we become less lonely.
Prejudice and stereotypes separate us from whole groups of people who could be friends and
partners in working for change. Many of us long for real contact. Talking with people
different from ourselves gives us hope and energizes us to take on the challenge of improving
our communities and worlds.

Multicultural Collaboration

When working on multicultural collaboration, keep in mind these additional guidelines:

Learn from generalizations about other cultures, but don't use those generalizations to
stereotype, "write off," or oversimplify your ideas about another person. The best use
of a generalization is to add it to your storehouse of knowledge so that you better
understand and appreciate other interesting, multi-faceted human beings. Dont forget
that when one feels threatened (e.g. by a different experience, environment etc.) the
human mind can presume negative motives or draw negative inferences from the
generalizations we create or observe; this is the basis of prejudice so unproductive
in intercultural business relations

Learn about a culture, that is learn about class, social categories, gender relations,
treatment of minority groups, their values, laws, rules, assumptions, tacit models. If
possible, use direct experience in approaching that particular culture (e.g. trips, radio
stations, music, national TV broadcasts etc.)

Develop awareness of your own cultural identity and strive to create plausible options
for behaving in the target culture environment

Practice, practice, practice. That's the first rule, because it's in the doing that we
actually get better at cross-cultural communication.

Don't assume that there is one right way (yours!) to communicate. Keep questioning
your assumptions about the "right way" to communicate. For example, think about
your body language; postures that indicate receptivity in one culture might indicate
aggressiveness in another.

Don't assume that breakdowns in communication occur because other people are on
the wrong track. Take responsibility for communication and tolerate ambiguity.
Search for ways to make the communication work, rather than searching for who
should receive the blame for the breakdown.

Listen actively and empathetically. Show respect. Try to put yourself in the other
person's shoes. Especially when another person's perceptions or ideas are very
different from your own, you might need to operate at the edge of your own comfort
zone. Remember that differences are less important than commonalities.

Respect others' choices about whether to engage in communication with you. Honor
their opinions about what is going on.

Stop, suspend judgment, and try to look at the situation as an outsider.

Be prepared for a discussion of the past. Use this as an opportunity to develop an

understanding from "the other's" point of view, rather than getting defensive or
impatient. Acknowledge historical events that have taken place. Be open to learning
more about them. Honest acknowledgment of the mistreatment and oppression that
have taken place on the basis of cultural difference is vital for effective

Awareness of current limitations in making oneself understood may lead to
communication imbalances and an openness to hearing each other's perceptions of
those imbalances is also necessary for understanding each other and working together.

Remember that cultural norms may not apply to the behavior of any particular
individual. We are all shaped by many factors - our ethnic background, our family, our
education, our personalities - and are more complicated than any cultural norm could
suggest. Recognize your own cultural biases, be flexible and emphasize common
ground. Check your interpretations if you are uncertain what is meant.

Deal with the individual, learn when to be direct and send clear messages.


1. Read about Communication Theories and think of how they can be best applied in
business communication. Which is, in your opinion, the most efficient in business
relationships? What arguments can you bring in favor of your choice?

The following theories focus on effective outcomes, on accommodation or adaption, on

identity negotiation and management, on communication networks, on acculturation and

Theories focusing on effective outcomes

Cultural Convergence: in a relatively closed social system in which communication
among members is unrestricted, the system as a whole will tend to converge over time
toward a state of greater cultural uniformity. The system will tend to diverge toward
diversity when communication is restricted.

Theories focusing on accommodation or adaption

Communication Accommodation Theory: This theory focuses on linguistic strategies
to decrease or increase communicative distances.
Intercultural Adaption: This theory is designed to explain how communicators adapt
to each other in "purpose-related encounters", at which cultural factors need to be

Co-cultural Theory: In its most general form, co-cultural communication refers to
interactions among underrepresented and dominant group members. Co-cultures
include but are not limited to people of color, women, people with disabilities, gay
men and lesbians, and those in the lower social classes. Co-cultural theory, as
developed by Mark P. Orbe, looks at the strategic ways in which co-cultural group
members communicate with others. In addition, a co-cultural framework provides an
explanation for how different persons communicate based on six factors.

Theories focusing on identity negotiation or management

Identity Management Theory: also frequently referred to as IMT is an intercultural
communication theory from the 1990s. It was developed by William R. Cupach and
Tadasu Todd Imahori on the basis of Erving Goffman's Interaction ritual: Essays on
face-to-face behavior (1967). Cupach and Imahori distinguish between intercultural
communication (speakers from different cultures) and intracultural communication
(speakers sharing the same culture).

To understand IMT, it is important to be familiar with Cupach and Imahori's view of

identities. Among the multiple identities which an individual possesses, cultural and
relational identities are regarded as essential to IMT. Cupach and Imahori claim that
presenting one's face shows facets of an individual's identity. Whether an interlocutor is able
to maintain face or not, reveals his or her interpersonal communication competence. The use
of stereotypes in intercultural conversations often results from the ignorance of each other's
culture; the application of stereotypes, however, is face threatening. Being able to manage the
resulting tensions, is part of intercultural communication competence. For becoming
competent in developing intercultural relationships, the following three phases have to be

1. "trial and error": act of looking for similar aspects in certain identities.
2. "mixing up" the communicators' identities to achieve a relational identity acceptable
for both participants

3. renegotiating the distinctive cultural identities with the help of the relational identity
that was created in phase 2

Cupach and Imahori call these phases "cyclical" as they are gone through by intercultural
communicators for each aspect of their identities.

Theories focusing on communication networks

Networks and Outgroup Communication Competence
Intracultural Versus Intercultural Networks

Theories focusing on acculturation and adjustment

Communication Acculturation: this theory attempts to portray "cross-cultural adaption
as a collaborative effort in which a stranger and the receiving environment are
engaged in a joint effort.
Anxiety/Uncertainty Management: when strangers communicate with hosts, they
experience uncertainty and anxiety. Strangers need to manage their uncertainty as well
as their anxiety in order to be able to communicate effectively with hosts and then to
try to develop accurate predictions and explanations for hosts' behaviors.

Assimilation, Deviance, and Alienation States: assimilation and adaption are not
permanent outcomes of the adaption process; rather, they are temporary outcomes of
the communication process between hosts and immigrants. "Alienation or
assimilation, therefore, of a group or an individual, is an outcome of the relationship
between deviant behavior and neglectful communication."

Other Theories
Meaning of Meaning Theory - "A misunderstanding takes place when people assume
a word has a direct connection with its referent. A common past reduces
misunderstanding. Definition, metaphor, and Basic English are partial linguistic
remedies for a lack of shared experience."
Face Negotiation Theory - "Members of collectivistic, high-context cultures have
concerns for mutual face and inclusion that lead them to manage conflict with another
person by avoiding, obliging, or compromising. Because of concerns for self-face and
autonomy, people from individualistic, low-context cultures manage conflict by
dominating or through problem solving"

Standpoint Theory refers to the situation in which an individual experience,
knowledge, and communication behaviors are shaped in large part by the social
groups to which they belong.

Stranger Theory - At least one of the persons in an intercultural encounter is a

stranger. Strangers are a 'hyperaware' of cultural differences and tend to overestimate
the effect of cultural identity on the behavior of people in an alien society, while
blurring individual distinctions.

Cultural Critical Studies Theory - The theory states that the mass media impose the
dominant ideology on the rest of society, and the connotations of words and images
are fragments of ideology that perform an unwitting service for the ruling elite.


1. Think about the Romanian cultural values. Do you recognize them in your
life? Find similarities and differences between them and the cultural values of
another country you have visited/worked in.
2. How about your workplace? How is the job environment structured to support
the value system of the organization? If you work in a multinational can you
identify a mixture of cultural values of two or more different cultures? How do
they work together?
3. Does your organization truly value diversity of thought, innovation, problem
solving, creativity?
4. Compare the cultural values of your country/organizational group with those
of another country/organizational group.
5. Can you identify the value specific to each of the following organizational
culture components: promotion, appraisal, vacation, corporate earnings,
shareholders, (and others you can suggest)?


Avruch, Kevin and Peter Black, "Conflict Resolution in Intercultural Settings: Problems and
Prospects," in Conflict Resolution Theory and Practice: Integration and Application,
edited by Dennis Sandole and Hugo van der Merwe. New York: St. Martin's Press,

Basic concepts of intercultural communication: Selected readings. Yarmouth, ME:

Intercultural Press. (on-line www.books.google.ro).
Bennett, Milton, J. (1998). Intercultural communication: A current perspective. In Milton J.
Bennett (Ed.), Basic Concepts of Intercultural Communication, Nicholas Brealey
Gudykunst, W. B. (2003). Cross-cultural and intercultural communication, 163-166.
Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Hahn, Martin. (2005). Ten Commandments of Intercultural Communication, http:cross-


Marcelle E. DuPraw and Marya Axner, Cross-cultural Communication Challenges

Martin, J.N., Nakayama, T.K. (2007). Intercultural Communication in Contexts, 4th ed.
Boston: McGraw Hill.

Perkins, P. S. (2008). The Art and Science of Communication. Tools for Effective
Communication in the Workplace, Hoboken, New Jersey:John Wiley&Sons, Inc.

Samovar, Larry A., Porter, Richard E., McDaniel, Edwin R. (2011). Intercultural
Communication: A Reader, Cengage Learning; 13 edition (January 1, 2011).

Schuler, A. J. (2003). Tips for Successful Cross-Cultural Communication, (permission is

granted to copy the article from www.SchulerSolutions.com).

Ting-Toomey, Stella, (1999). Communicating Across Cultures, Guilford Press.

Triandis, H. C. (1994). Culture and social behavior, New-York:McGraw-Hill.


Upon completion of this chapter, you will
- understand the way culture functions on different levels
- understand such terms as cultural dimensions, power distance, uncertainty
avoidance, individualism, collectivism, masculinity, femininity, short/long term
orientation, indulgence/restraint
- distinguish/ differentiate between culture, civilization, high/low context culture,
national/organizational cultures


What are the levels on which culture functions?

Taking into account E.T. Hall classic dimensions of culture, what type of culture do you
belong to?
How do you perceive and manage time in your culture?
On what bases can we compare nations from a cultural point of view?/ What are the
cultural values on which we can compare nations?
What are the particular values that distinguish your own culture from others?
Do national cultures and organizational cultures have a similar impact upon the

1. Levels of culture

For those who work in international business, it is sometimes amazing how different people
in other cultures behave. We tend to have a human instinct that 'deep inside' all people are the
same - but they are not. Therefore, if we go into another country and make decisions based on
how we operate in our own home country, the chances are we'll make some very bad
decisions. An ideal intercultural communicator should be able to recognize examples of
cultural differences in both verbal and nonverbal behaviors, and use information to better
communicate with others. (Griffith 2013)

The study of cultural dimensions gives us insights into other cultures so that we can be more
effective when interacting with people in other countries. If understood and applied properly,
this information should reduce our level of frustration, anxiety, and concern.

In order to understand the importance of cultural dimensions we have to place them in the
most general context of culture and the levels on which culture operates. The word "culture"
stems from a Latin root that means the tilling of the soil, like in agriculture. In many modern
languages the word is used in a figurative sense, with two meanings:

1. The first, most common, meaning is "civilization", including education, manners, arts
and crafts and their products. It is the domain of a "ministry of culture".
2. The second meaning derives from social anthropology, but in the past decades it has
entered common parlance. It refers to the way people think, feel, and act. Geert
Hofstede has defined it as "the collective programming of the mind distinguishing the
members of one group or category of people from another". The "category" can refer
to nations, regions within or across nations, ethnicities, religions, occupations,
organizations, or the genders. A simpler definition is 'the unwritten rules of the social

Culture revolves around basic issues that have to do with group membership, authority,
gender roles, morality, anxiety, emotions and drives. Culture affects our lives and the
physical/social/historical environment we live in. Culture is what enables a group to function
smoothly. Here are some prominent levels on which culture functions:

National level

Today's world population is divided into some 200 nations. Comparing nations has become
part of most social sciences. Some nations are more culturally homogeneous than others;
especially large nations like Brazil, China, India and Indonesia comprise culturally different
regions. Other culturally similar areas belong politically to different nations: this is in
particular the case in Africa. With these limitations, comparing national cultures is still a
meaningful and revealing venture. Research by Geert Hofstede and others has shown that
national cultures differ in particular at the level of, usually unconscious, values held by a
majority of the population. Values, in this case, are "broad preferences for one state of affairs
over others". The Hofstede dimensions of national cultures are rooted in our unconscious

values. Because values are acquired in childhood, national cultures are remarkably stable
over time; national values change is a matter of generations. What we see changing around
us, in response to changing circumstances are practices: symbols, heroes and rituals, leaving
the underlying values untouched. This is why differences between countries often have such a
remarkable historical continuity.

Organizational level

Many of us spend a large part of their time in organizations. Organizational cultures, the way
Hofstede uses the term, distinguish different organizations within the same country or
countries. His research has shown that organizational cultures differ mainly at the level of
practices (symbols, heroes and rituals); these are more superficial and more easily learned
and unlearned than the values that form the core of national cultures. As a consequence, the
Hofstede dimensions of national cultures are not relevant for comparing organizations within
the same country. National cultures belong to anthropology; organizational cultures to
sociology. Because organizational cultures are rooted in practices, they are to some extent
manageable; national cultures, rooted in values, are given facts for organization management.

Occupational level

Entering an occupational field implies acquiring a degree of mental programming.

Occupational cultures have symbols, heroes and rituals in common with organizational
cultures, but they also often imply holding certain values and convictions. Occupational
cultures in this respect take a position in between national and organizational cultures. The
culture of management as an occupation contains both national and organizational elements.

Gender level

Gender differences are not usually described in terms of cultures. It can be revealing to do so.
If we recognize that within each society there may be a men's culture that differs from a
women's culture, this helps to explain why it is so difficult to change traditional gender roles.
Women and men are often technically able to perform the same jobs, but they do not respond
to the same symbols, do not like the same heroes, do not share the same rituals. Even if some
do, the other sex may not accept them in their deviant gender role. Feelings and fears about
behaviors by the opposite sex can be of the same order of intensity as reactions of people

exposed to foreign cultures. The degree of gender differentiation in a country is highly
dependent on its national culture.

2. The Study of Dimensions of National Cultures

As todays workplace changes rapidly and the business environment expands to include
various geographic locations and span numerous cultures, learning to communicate and
transact business across cultural limits is essential. Communication is cultural and interactive,
and it depends on how we learned to speak and give non-verbal cues. Edward T. Halls
concepts are easily observed and very useful, can help organizations and employees cross
cultural boundaries.

2.1. Edward T. Hall classic dimensions of culture

High/low-context cultures

E.T. Hall is considered the founder of the intercultural communication field of research. His
books The Silent Language and The Hidden Dimension represent cornerstones in the domain
and help, even today, those who are interested in improving their communication skills across
cultures. He identifies two classic dimensions of culture the high-context and low-context
cultures. He starts from the premises that cultures relate to one another through the style in
which they communicate; the style is dependent on context or, according to his theory, on
how much one needs to know before one can communicate effectively. Hall asserts that
Meaning and context are inextricably bound up with each other (Hall, 2000: 36) and
suggests that in order to understand communication, we must look at the meaning and context
together with the code (words).

We must also understand that context refers to the situation, background or environment
connected to the event, situation or individual. Thus, low-context communication is realized
by explicit statements, using an explicit code; most of the information must be included in the
transmitted message (e.g. Scandinavian, Swiss, German, Canada, The United States cultures).
Low context communicators tend to be direct and informal. They use words that express the
full extent of the intended meaning and value logic, facts, and straightforwardness.
Knowledge and experience are valued as equal to authority and status levels are not clearly

defined. Decisions are made based on how it affects the task at hand and relationships are
often not factored in (business isnt personal). High-context communication makes use of
non-verbal communication (body language, para-verbal cues, eye movement) in order to
imply the message; the transmitted message contains minimal information, the rest being
added from the cultural information previously acquired by the sender of the message (e.g.
Japan, Arab, China, Italy, Greece, Spain, Russia, South America cultures). In the high context
communication culture the listener must combine messages portrayed by the speakers verbal
communication and nonverbal behaviors to get the full meaning of the message. High context
communicators are usually indirect and formal. They expect the listener to read between the
lines. Words are less important than the context which includes status, posture, tone of voice,
gestures, facial expressions. Relationships are important and decisions are made based on
how the relationship would be affected. Face-to-face interactions are preferred so that
nonverbal messages can be used to decipher the meanings. Developing trust is important to
business interactions. The table below sums up the main characteristics of the two types of

High-context culture Low-context culture


Many covert and implicit Many overt and explicit

Overtness of messages, with use of messages that are simple
messages metaphor and reading between and clear.
the lines.
Locus of control Inner locus of control and Outer locus of control
and attribution for personal acceptance for and blame of others for
failure failure failure
Much nonverbal More focus on verbal
Use of non-verbal
communication communication than
body language
Expression of Reserved, inward reactions Visible, external,
reaction outward reaction
Cohesion and Strong distinction between Flexible and open
separation of ingroup and outgroup. grouping patterns,
groups Strong sense of family. changing as needed
Strong people bonds with Fragile bonds between
People bonds affiliation to family and people with little sense
community of loyalty.

High commitment to long- Low commitment to
Level of
term relationships. relationship. Task more
commitment to
Relationship more important important than
than task. relationships.
Flexibility of time Time is open and flexible. Time is highly organized.
Process is more important than Product is more
product important than process

See http://changingminds.org/explanations/culture/hall_culture.htm

Monochronic/ Polychronic cultures

Halls second concept deals with the ways in which cultures perceive and manage time. There
are monochromic cultures that deal with one thing at a time, and polychronic cultures that
prefer handling many activities at the same time.

Monochronic cultures work on a single task until it is finished. They see time as being
divided into fixed elements like seconds, minutes, hours. They love to plan in detail, make
lists, keep track of activities, and organize time into a daily routine.

Polychronic cultures are involved with many things at once, with varying levels of attention
paid to each. For them, time is continuous and it has no particular structure. They prefer not
to have detailed plans imposed on them but want to make their own plans and meet deadlines
in their own way.

Factor Monochronic action Polychronic action

Actions do one thing at a time do many things at once
Focus Concentrate on the job at hand Are easily distracted
Attention to Think about when things must Think about what will be
time be achieved achieved
Priority Put the job first Put relationships first
Respect for Borrow and lend things
Seldom borrow or lend things
property often and easily
base promptness relationship
Timeliness Emphasize promptness

See http://changingminds.org/explanations/culture/hall_culture.htm

2.2. Geert Hofstede Cultural Dimensions

Geert Hofstede is a Dutch social psychologist who did a pioneering study of cultures across
modern nations. He has operated in an international environment since 1965, and his
curiosity as a social psychologist led him to the comparison of nations, first as a travelling
international staff member of a multinational (IBM) and later as a visiting professor at an
international business school in Switzerland. His 1980 book Culture's Consequences
combined his personal experiences with the statistical analysis of two unique data bases. The
first and largest comprised answers of matched employee samples from 40 different countries
to the same attitude survey questions. The second consisted of answers to some of these same
questions by his executive students who came from 15 countries and from a variety of
companies and industries. Systematic differences between nations in these two data
bases occurred in particular for questions dealing with values. Values, in this case, are "broad
preferences for one state of affairs over others", and they are mostly unconscious.

The study of dimensions of national cultures is important since it provides a comprehensive

understanding of cultural differences which entails, in its turn, an effective dialogue between
different cultures. One example of cultural differences in business is between the Middle
Eastern countries and the Western countries, especially the United States.

When negotiating in Western countries, the objective is to work toward a target of mutual
understanding and agreement and 'shake-hands' when that agreement is reached - a cultural
signal of the end of negotiations and the start of 'working together'. In Middle Eastern
countries much negotiation takes place leading into the 'agreement', signified by shaking
hands. However, the deal is not complete in the Middle Eastern culture. In fact, it is a cultural
sign that 'serious' negotiations are just beginning.

Imagine the problems this creates when each party in a negotiation is operating under
diametrically opposed 'rules and conventions.' This is just one example why it is critical to
understand other cultures you may be doing business with - whether on a vacation in a
foreign country, or negotiating a multi-million dollar deal for your company.

According to Hofstede the values that distinguished countries (rather than individuals) from
each other grouped themselves statistically into four clusters. They dealt with
four anthropological problem areas that different national societies handle differently:

ways of coping with inequality,

ways of coping with uncertainty,

the relationship of the individual with her or his primary group, and

the emotional implications of having been born as a girl or as a boy.

These became Hofstedes dimensions of national cultures: Power Distance, Uncertainty

Avoidance, Individualism versus Collectivism, and Masculinity versus Femininity. Between
1990 and 2002, these dimensions were largely replicated in six other cross-national studies on
very different populations from consumers to airline pilots, covering between 14 and 28
countries. In the 2010 third edition of the book Cultures and Organizations: Software of the
Mind, scores on the dimensions are listed for 76 countries.

Power Distance

Power distance is the extent to which the less powerful members of organizations and
institutions (like the family) accept and expect that power is distributed unequally. This
represents inequality (more versus less), but defined from below, not from above. It suggests
that a society's level of inequality is endorsed by the followers as much as by the leaders.
Power and inequality, of course, are extremely fundamental facts of any society and anybody
with some international experience will be aware that "all societies are unequal, but some are
more unequal than others".

Uncertainty Avoidance

Uncertainty avoidance deals with a society's tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity. It
indicates to what extent a culture programs its members to feel either uncomfortable or
comfortable in unstructured situations. Unstructured situations are novel, unknown,
surprising, different from usual. Uncertainty avoiding cultures try to minimize the possibility
of such situations by strict laws and rules, safety and security measures, and on the
philosophical and religious level by a belief in absolute Truth: "there can only be one Truth

and we have it". People in uncertainty avoiding countries are also more emotional, and
motivated by inner nervous energy. The opposite type, uncertainty accepting cultures, are
more tolerant of opinions different from what they are used to; they try to have as few rules
as possible, and on the philosophical and religious level they are relativist and allow many
currents to flow side by side. People within these cultures are more phlegmatic and
contemplative, and not expected by their environment to express emotions.

Individualism on the one side versus its opposite, collectivism, is the degree to which
individuals are integrated into groups. On the individualist side we find societies in which the
ties between individuals are loose: everyone is expected to look after her/himself and her/his
immediate family. On the collectivist side, we find societies in which people from birth
onwards are integrated into strong, cohesive in-groups, often extended families (with uncles,
aunts and grandparents) which continue protecting them in exchange for unquestioning
loyalty. The word collectivism in this sense has no political meaning: it refers to the group,
not to the state. Again, the issue addressed by this dimension is an extremely fundamental
one, regarding all societies in the world.

Masculinity versus its opposite, femininity, refers to the distribution of emotional roles
between the genders which is another fundamental issue for any society to which a range of
solutions are found. The IBM studies revealed that (a) women's values differ less among
societies than men's values; (b) men's values from one country to another contain a dimension
from very assertive and competitive and maximally different from women's values on the one
side, to modest and caring and similar to women's values on the other. The assertive pole has
been called masculine and the modest, caring pole feminine. The women in feminine
countries have the same modest, caring values as the men; in the masculine countries they are
more assertive and more competitive, but not as much as the men, so that these countries
show a gap between men's values and women's values.

Long-Term Orientation has been added, starting with 90-ies. Research by Michael Bond
and colleagues among students in 23 countries led him in 1991 to adding a fifth dimension
called Long- versus Short-Term Orientation. Values associated with Long Term Orientation
are thrift and perseverance; values associated with Short Term Orientation are respect for
tradition, fulfilling social obligations, and protecting one's 'face'. Both the positively and the
negatively rated values of this dimension are found in the teachings of Confucius, the most
influential Chinese philosopher who lived around 500 B.C.; however, the dimension also
applies to countries without a Confucian heritage. In 2010, research by Michael Minkov
allowed to extend the number of country scores for this dimension to 93, using recent World
Values Survey data from representative samples of national populations. Long-term oriented
societies foster pragmatic virtues oriented towards future rewards, in particular saving,
persistence, and adapting to changing circumstances. Short-term oriented societies foster
virtues related to the past and present such as national pride, respect for tradition,
preservation of "face", and fulfilling social obligations.

Indulgence versus Restraint

In the same book a sixth dimension, also based on Minkov's World Values Survey data
analysis for 93 countries has been added, called Indulgence versus Restraint. Indulgence
stands for a society that allows relatively free gratification of basic and natural human drives
related to enjoying life and having fun. Restraint stands for a society that suppresses
gratification of needs and regulates it by means of strict social norms.

2.3. Dimension scores

2.3.1. Historical roots of cultural differences

One can only speculate about the historical roots of cultural differences. They may even
remain hidden in the course of history. We still can seek in the common history of similarly
scoring countries. All Latin countries, for example, score relatively high on both power
distance and uncertainty avoidance. Latin countries (those today speaking a Romance
language i.e. Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian or Romanian) have inherited at least part of
their civilization from the Roman empire. The Roman empire in its days was characterized by
the existence of a central authority in Rome, and a system of law applicable to citizens
anywhere. This established in its citizens' minds the value complex which we still recognize
today: centralization fostered large power distance and a stress on laws fostered strong
uncertainty avoidance. The Chinese empire also knew centralization, but it lacked a fixed
system of laws: it was governed by men rather than by laws. In the present-day countries

once under Chinese rule, the mindset fostered by the empire is reflected in large power
distance but medium to weak uncertainty avoidance. The Germanic part of Europe, including
Great Britain, never succeeded in establishing an enduring common central authority and
countries which inherited its civilizations show smaller power distance.

2.3.2. Scores around the world

- Power distance scores are high for Latin, Asian and African countries and smaller for
Anglo and Germanic countries.

- Uncertainty avoidance scores are higher in Latin countries, in Japan, and in German
speaking countries, lower in Anglo, Nordic, and Chinese culture countries.

- Individualism prevails in developed and Western countries, while collectivism

prevails in less developed and Eastern countries; Japan takes a middle position on this

- Masculinity is high in Japan, in some European countries like Germany, Austria and
Switzerland, and moderately high in Anglo countries; it is low in Nordic countries and
in the Netherlands and moderately low in some Latin and Asian countries like France,
Spain and Thailand.

- Long-term orientation scores are highest in East Asia, moderate in Eastern and
Western Europe, and low in the Anglo world, the Muslim world, Latin America and

- Indulgence scores are highest in Latin America, parts of Africa, the Anglo world and
Nordic Europe; restraint is mostly found in East Asia, Eastern Europe and the Muslim

2.3.3. Correlations of scores

The country scores on the six dimensions are statistically correlated with a multitude of other
data about the countries. For example, power distance is correlated with the use of violence in
domestic politics and with income inequality in a country. Uncertainty avoidance is
associated with Roman Catholicism and with the legal obligation in developed countries for

citizens to carry identity cards. Individualism is correlated with national wealth and with
mobility between social classes from one generation to the next. Masculinity is correlated
negatively with the percent of women in democratically elected governments. Long-term
orientation is correlated with school results in international comparisons. Indulgence is
correlated with sexual freedom and a call for human rights like free expression of opinions.

2.3.4. Relativity of scores

The country scores on these dimensions are relative - societies are compared to other
societies. These relative scores have been proven to be quite stable over decades. The forces
that cause cultures to shift tend to be global or continent-wide - they affect many countries at
the same time, so that if their cultures shift, they shift together, and their relative positions
remain the same.

The Hofstede model of dimensions of national cultures has been applied in the practice of
many domains of human social life, from the interpersonal to the national, in public domains
and in business, in education and in health care. According to the Web of Science, in 2008
more than 800 peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals cited one or more of Geert
Hofstede's publications. Of particular interest are the applications in the field of marketing,
advertising and consumer behavior, in which Dutch scholar Marieke de Mooij plays a key

3. Dimensions of organizational cultures

Organizational cultures, the way we use the term, distinguish different organizations within
the same country or countries. Geert Hofstede's research has shown that organizational
cultures differ mainly at the levels of symbols, heroes and rituals, together labelled practices;
these are more superficial and more easily learned and unlearned than the values that form
the core of national cultures. As a consequence, Hofstede dimensions of national cultures are
not relevant for comparing organizations within the same country. National cultures belong to
anthropology; organizational cultures to sociology.

Managing international business means handling both national and organizational culture
differences at the same time. Organizational cultures are somewhat manageable while

national cultures are given facts for management; common organizational cultures across
borders are what holds multinationals together.

A separate research project into organizational culture differences - The IRIC project,
conducted by Geert Hofstede's institute across 20 organizational units in Denmark and the
Netherlands in the 1980s, identified six independent dimensions of practices: process-
oriented versus results-oriented, job-oriented versus employee-oriented, professional versus
parochial, open systems versus closed systems, tightly versus loosely controlled, and
pragmatic versus normative. The position of an organization on these dimensions is partly
determined by the business or industry the organization is in. Scores on the dimensions are
also related to a number of other "hard" characteristics of the organizations. These lead to
conclusions about how organizational cultures can be and cannot be managed.


Read about the Cultural mechanisms that underlie high and low-context communication
styles and discuss about their strong/weak points when these are brought together in an
intercultural context:

a. Relationship-based: behavior is regulated through close supervision by

authority figures (parents, elders, bosses). Improper behavior is deterred
by shame, loss of face, punishment or ostracism //these cultures rely on
high-context communication
b. Rule-based: behavior is based on respect for rules people respect the
rules for their own sake and compliance with rules is encouraged by guilt
feelings and fear of punishment; the rules are spelled out explicitly and
people are taught to pay attention to them// low context communication

(see John Hooker, Cultural Differences in Business Communication, 2008, Tepper School
of Business Carnegie Mellon University, in

What type of culture is this? What cultural dimensions does it address?

Cultural differences, while difficult to observe and measure, are obviously very important.
() The effects of culture persist even in life-and-death situations. Consider the example of
Korean Airs high incidence of plane crashes between 1970-2000. As an analysis of
conversations recorded in the black boxes of the crashed planes revealed, the co-pilots and
flight engineers in all Korean cockpits were too deferential to their captains. Even in the
advent of a possible crash, Korean Air co-pilots and flight engineers rarely suggested actions
that would contradict the judgments of their captains. Challenging ones superior in Korea
was considered culturally inadequate behavior. (see Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story
of Success, 2008, New York: Little, Brown &Co.)


Carnegie Mellon University, http://web.tepper.cmu.edu/jnh/businessCommunication.pdf

Gladwell, Malcolm. Outliers: The Story of Success, New York: Little, Brown&Co, 2008.

Griffith, Sarah. (2013). in


Hall, E.T. (1959). The Silent Language, New York: Doubleday

Hall, E.T. (1966). The Hidden Dimension, New York: Doubleday

Hall, E.T. (1976). Beyond Culture, New York: Doubleday

Hall, E.T. (1983). The Dance of Life, The Other Dimension of Time, New York: Doubleday

Hall, E.T. (1985). Hidden Differences: Studies in International Communication, Hamburg:

Grunder and Jahr

Hall, E.T. (1990). Hidden Differences: Doing Business with the Japanese, Garden City, NY:
Anchor Press/ Doubleday

Hall, E.T. (1990). Understanding Cultural Differences, Germans, French and Americans,
Yarmouth: Intercultural Press

Hall, E. T. (2000). The Silent Language, New-York: Fawcett, 1959, (see also Remland,

Hofstede, Geert and Hofstede, Gert-Jan. Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind.
New York: McGraw-Hill U.S.A., 2010.

Hofstede, Geert. Culture's Consequences, Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions, and

Organizations Across Nations, Thousand Oaks CA: Sage Publications, 2001.

Hofstede,G., & Minkov,M. (2010). Long- versus short-term orientation: New

perspectives. Asia Pacific Business Review

Hofstede, Geert. See http://www.geerthofstede.nl/culture.aspx.

Hooker, John. Cultural Differences in Business Communication, 2008, Tepper School of

Minkov, Michael (2010). See Hofstede, Geert, Gert Jan Hofstede), Michael Minkov. (2010).
Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind, Third Edition Paperback,
McGraw-Hill Education.



Upon completion of this chapter, you will
- understand the causes of culture shock, identify the stages of culture shock,
develop awareness of accurate responses to culture shock, practice effective
patterns of intercultural communication, build specific skills to adapt to a
new/foreign culture (these skills imply stress management, efficient
communication, interpersonal relations)
- understand such terms as culture shock, international moving, intercultural
adaptation, self-development, adjustment
- distinguish/ differentiate between xenophilia/xenophobia, familiar/unfamiliar
culture, universalistic/particularistic culture, excitement/anxiety versus new
communication experiences


Have you travelled abroad? On what purpose? For how long? How did you feel?

What was the impact of the new culture on you?

How did you solve your adaptation problems?

Based on your personal experience, what actions do you suggest to cope with the new

Did you perceive the new experience as a conflict between your culture and the host

1. Culture shock

One of the major challenges in international business is the need of breaking through culture
shock that inevitably occurs in international business situations. Why? Because international
moving adds even more pressure than a national or regional move. When working abroad you
will face the need to understand your new business culture and colleagues. Dr Elisabeth Marx
explains the phenomenon in her book Breaking Through Culture Shock.

It is estimated that one in seven UK managers fails on international assignments, and this
figure is even higher for US managers, with an estimated failure rate of 25 to 40 per cent.
Managers differ in the way they respond to culture shock. Some are able to adapt to different
countries whereas others cling desperately to their habits and national approaches. What
makes some international executives highly successful whereas others struggle with basic
everyday activities? If we are all so global nowadays, what makes some of us more
international than others? Researchers tell us that it is our ability to manage culture shock in
international business that makes a difference between failure and success. This highly-priced
skill in the field of intercultural communication is also known as intercultural adaptation
and there are many studies that dealt with the issue, trying to find the appropriate criteria for
its description and assessment.

Culture shock defined

The online Oxford Dictionary defines culture shock as disorientation experienced when
suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture or way of life. C Storti (2001) asserts that
culture shock is a common stress reaction that individuals have when they find themselves
immersed in an unfamiliar culture and the anthropologist Kalervo Oberg (1954) who laid
out the basics of this concept considers it an occupational disease of people who have been
suddenly transplanted abroad.

The term culture shock was originally created by Oberg to describe the effects that living in
a different country or culture can have. He first used it in 1954, in a presentation entitled
Culture Shock; his original contribution consists in the description of this phenomenon, the
identification of its stages and the detailed analysis of them, as well as his advice on dealing
with them. Oberg assumed that we go through distinct phases in adapting to a foreign
environment. We start in a honeymoon phase where we see everything as positive and enjoy
the foreign experience; then we plunge into a period of culture shock where we feel
disoriented and helpless and may become irritated or even depressed. Gradually, we work
ourselves out of this potential crisis situation and come to a recovery or gradual adaptation.
This is the stage where we understand what is different from our own country and have
developed a compromise between our own values and the values of the foreign counterparts.
Stage one is also called xenophilia a nave fascination with the new culture. It soon gives
way to xenophobia stage two (when the migrants tend to group together and become

angry about the natives, negatively stereotyping them and romanticizing home). During the
third stage they reach some form of adjustment and finally, in stage four, an almost complete

Edward Dutton in his article Towards a Scientific Model of Culture Shock and Intercultural
Communication (2011) examines each stage in detail and tries to find scientific reasons to
explain each pattern of behavior on the grounds of several experiments in biology.
Consequently he observes that the sense of fascination in the initial stages of culture shock
can be explained by the release of dopamine in response to something novel. In evolutionary
terms, this taking pleasure in the novel, and in taking risks within certain limitations, has
obvious benefits because it encourages exploration and learning. However, mild risk is
exciting but extreme risk leads to anxiety. This is the origin of the deep dislike of the new
cultural environment we witness in stage two where frustration and depression occur. The
explanation is that humans generally strive to find pattern and predictability in their
environment. If these cannot be achieved, their response can be either introvert (break-down
into withdrawal) or extrovert (become highly aggressive). Dutton also explains that the
rejection of the host cultural environment that appears in Obergs second stage, characterized
by a state of stress, is closely connected with the concept of altered perceptions. Since the
brain tends to be selective in its perceptions, the novel objects appear acutely novel and
people in stage two of culture shock are easily able to note what is distinctive. Stage three
decreases the level of stress and renders the environment predictable and stage four brings
acceptance of the fact that the other culture is just another way of living (Oberg 1960). In
stage four the new culture appears to be just as satisfactorily predictable as the old one was,
the individual completely adjusts to the new culture, and feels just as comfortable with it as
with their own culture.

Basically in international business environment culture shock occurs when people discover
that their way of doing things doesn't work. What once were habits become an overwhelming
number of decisions, says Stephen Rhinesmith, a transatlantic executive coach who
specializes in global emotional intelligence. The symptoms of culture shock according to
Rhinesmith (1996) are:

You get frustrated, irritable, fatigued, anxious and depressed.

You can't cope.

You withdraw, often oversleep to escape, and turn aggressive against the host culture.

You feel isolated and helpless because everything seems out of control.

However, these symptoms appear in the second stage. Coming back to the above-mentioned
stages, they are all part of the more complex phenomenon of adjusting to the new culture and
they follow a predictable pattern from elation to depression and finally reaching adjustment
(Oberg, 1960: 170-179). S. Ting-Toomey (1999: 248-250) developed Obergs model and
expanded it to seven stages:

1. Honeymoon newcomers are elated about the new experience

2. Hostility disorientation and frustration set in

3. Humour the challenges posed by the new environment are seen in


4. In-Sync the sojourners may serve as mentors for other newcomers

5. Ambivalence towards the end of their experience abroad, the sojourners

oscillate between the joy of homecoming and the disappointment of their
staying abroad coming to an end

6. Re-entry culture shock their attempt to adjust to being back in their home

7. Re-socialization they try to fit back into the old patterns (assimilators); they
may be not satisfied with what they find at home (alienators); they act as
change agents who use their intercultural knowledge to help vitalize their
home relationships and organizations (transformers)

2. The culture shock triangle

The study of cross-cultural transition provides basic information for the individual entering a
foreign culture. Psychologically, those staying abroad for a longer period of time (the
employees of multinationals among them) have to deal with three levels of culture shock:

The emotional side - coping with mood swings

The thinking side - understanding foreign colleagues

The social side - developing a social and professional network as well as effective social

This leads to a new model of culture shock, the culture shock triangle, analyzed by E. Marx
in her book Breaking through culture shock - what you need to succeed in international
business (1999). The fist level approached is that of Emotions. International executives often
mention emotional reactions, such as worrying, feelings of isolation, anxiety and
helplessness. Most people think of culture-shock as a short and sharp disorienting
experience in a foreign place. Few realize that the effect of culture shock can be much deeper
and more prolonged, if it is not dealt with effectively. Psychologically, moving to a foreign
country means stress for the individual. International assignments fall into the category of
stress called life events. Such major life changes put the individual at risk of psychological
difficulties, such as depression, anxiety, alcoholism or what laymen typically call nervous
breakdown. International managers who move abroad experience several such life events:
changing country, changing jobs, and changing house - consequently, there is a high risk to
psychological well-being and hence a high risk of performance deficits at work and,
ultimately, a risk for the company. Moreover, these changes affect the entire family.

The second level E. Marx discusses is Thinking. Living in a familiar, well-structured and
predictable environment makes understanding easy. The meaning of expressions, gestures
and cultural norms is clear. But moving to another, maybe remote, part of the same country
changes the autopilot status. We cannot take things for granted; all of sudden, it takes an
effort to understand what is going on. Most importantly, we must learn new things and
develop and expand our thinking. New situations or situations that do not make automatic
sense can be treated in three different ways:

You can decide to ignore them or discard them.

You can decide to treat them as familiar situations, thereby making the wrong conclusions.

You can admit that one cannot make sense, work on it and try to expand and modify our
typical thinking.

By deciding how to treat the foreign situation and how to respond to the new state of
facts, one can become:

A colonialist - you do not react to the foreign culture.

An imperialist - forcing your own value system and way of thinking onto the new
culture - not adapting in interactions and not seeing the necessity to change
perceptions and attitude.
An internationalist/inter-culturalist - you are fully aware of the complexity and
ambiguity of exchanges in foreign cultures and try to adapt by changing your thinking
and attitudes and by trying to find a compromise between cultures. Ideally, we all
want to achieve the third option.

E. Marx highlights that some international managers mention the thinking effect explicitly
when asked about the effect of international experience on their personality:

International work makes you more aware and more knowledgeable. The result is being able
to see things from many different angles; it is a very broadening experience, says one
manager. The differences in attitudes were larger than I expected, but I have reached a better
understanding of different attitudes towards work, says another.

And she points out that challenging your own assumptions and values is not the only
challenging that has to be done - challenging your own identity and social behavior is also
part of building an effective international career.

Finally, the third stage involves Social Identity and Social Skills. It is characterized by the
fact that by working in an alien environment, behavior which is rewarded and valued at
home may get a different treatment. It can be negatively evaluated in the new culture.
Directness and assertiveness may be positive attributes in the United States but would be seen
as rude and inadequate in China. We learn that there are different ways of living, working,
and establishing relationships and this threatens our well-formed notions on how to do things.
We do not understand some of our own behavior and the emotional ups and downs we are
going through as part of our adaptation. Our self-identify is shaken-up and, in a way, we have
to re-negotiate or re-define our identity, by integrating our new experiences and reactions into
our old self. As soon as we interact more closely with a foreign culture, we experience a
conflict between our own values and those of the host culture. It is all about the collision of
values. However, the situation can improve. As we get more and more involved, we normally
develop alternative ways of behaving and this also influences our view of ourselves. Similar

to what we have seen with understanding others, our sense of self has to be expanded and
modified. This is part of the self-development most people go through during international

3. Culture shock in Europe

Despite the so-called union of European nations, huge cultural gaps exist between
people working in this continent and culture shock also occurs within Europe, among
Europeans, all the time. Unfortunately, experts say, European companies neglect to train
employees to deal with this shock because they figure, it's not a problem. But it really is one,
one that can hamper a company's development, they say. The answers, they assert, include
experience, cultural training and self-awareness.

One thing to keep in mind is that European cultures can be divided into two main categories,
according to Rhinesmith (1996) universalistic vs. particularistic. The Anglophone,
Germanic, Dutch and Scandinavian countries tend to look at other cultures in a more
judgmental fashion. They are known as "universalistic". "Particularistic" cultures, including
France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece, defend their own way of life with a my-group-
versus-your-group mentality.

Marx (1999) stresses that a big source of friction is a differing sense of time. "It drives
someone else mad," she says. German and Anglophone business people are sequential
planners, and they see punctuality as a sign of respect. The Latin cultures juggle a variety of
tasks simultaneously and tackle them at their own pace without a discernible pattern.

Humour is another sticking point, according to Marx (1999). The English like to use it to
break the ice. That backfires in Germany where jokes in meetings are considered shallow,
Marx says. More specifically, Germans sometimes are perceived to be inflexible
perfectionists who are schedule-driven rather than solution-minded, she says. (But they are
also perceived to be people of their word, and thus trustworthy partners.) The French
sometimes are perceived to over-elaborate, to engage in lengthy hypothetical discussions.
They often appear to have no action plan and arrive at no conclusion, she says. (But they are
also perceived to be super-flexible and great improvisers.) Indeed, Cantelo, an engineer who
worked for Peugeot in France and now is at Aston Martin in Britain, says that he was taken
aback by the unstructured nature of French meetings, often held without an agenda. He was

also surprised by the formal tone of communication, both oral and written. "I saw a number
of people getting dressed down for not addressing their superiors properly," Cantelo said.

The British sometimes are perceived to speak in their own code, Marx says. Their subtleties
can be lost even on fluent English speakers from other countries. Misunderstandings occur
when instead of saying "no" directly, they say something like "That is an interesting idea."
This bewilders literal-minded Germans, as Marx observes. (But the British are perceived to
be excellent at working out ambiguous and complicated situations.)

There are also huge differences in different cultures mentality about Business and Pleasure.
Different countries have different approaches towards combining business and pleasure. This
requires the individual manager to adapt to the setting of the specific country and, if
necessary, to develop the social skills to deal with the new business scenario. Germans, for
example, take a structured approach to business: they negotiate in conference rooms and they
may have a meal with the negotiation partners once the deal is clinched. They take a highly
situation specific approach to business - a clear divide between business and pleasure.
Chinese businessmen in Singapore meet a business partner over lunch or dinner and, if it is
really important, at home. They try to get to know the person first before any business is
discussed. Western managers need some time to adapt to the combined business and
pleasure approach in Asian or South American countries. The introvert or socially reserved
manager, who finds it easy to work in structured business situations, is at a loss at cocktail
parties or dinners where the conversation is not focused on business issues but on how good
their golf is. Similarly, some Western business practices (North American or Northern
European) may be difficult for executives who come from a more diffuse culture, such as
Asia. The highly structured way of doing business in the US may be seen as curt,
disrespectful, and down-right aggressive.

The best solution one can adopt is to go beyond mechanistic dos and donts. It is more
important to develop an attitude and the behaviour that is comfortable and effective for the
individual manager in the new business culture. The culture shock triangle described above
provides concrete steps in dealing with international business, from balancing your emotions
to developing effective social behavior.

4. Dealing with culture shock

In a multicultural work environment, previous experience counts for a lot, Rhinesmith says. It
helps people to quickly adapt, developing a method of functioning that is effective. So does
the right mindset, which includes openness to new things and appreciation of cultural
differences, the experts say. Of great importance is not just language training but also cross-
cultural coaching during which employees hone their interpersonal skills by role-playing with
people from other cultures. Self-awareness is the most important, Marx says. Every time you
wade into an international encounter you should remember that the norms are going to be
different and you should take that into account, she says. Attitude is a very important factor to
success or failure therefore one should consider the three types of reaction one may
experience during the negotiation phase with the new culture:

Rejecters: one can find the adaptation to the new country particularly difficult. One tends to
isolate themselves from the host country that they perceive as hostile, and believe that
returning home is the only way for them to be in harmony with their environment again.

Adopters: Some expatriates embrace their host culture and country, whilst losing their
original identity. They usually choose to stay in the host country forever.

Cosmopolitans: They see their host country and culture positively, and manage to adapt
whilst keeping their original identity. They create their own blend and usually have no
problem returning to their home country or relocating elsewhere.

Other researchers direct their attention to the features of a successful intercultural adaptation.
They have to answer questions like: What are the definitive features of a successful
transition? Good relations with members of the host culture? Psychological well-being?
Competent work performance? Positive attitudes toward the transition? Identification with
host nationals?
There is a great number of adjustment indices identified by the intercultural communication
literature. We will include only the most important here:

- Self-awareness and self-esteem (David, 1971)

- Feelings of acceptance and satisfaction (Brislin, 1981)

- The nature and extent of interactions with hosts (Sewel and Davidsen, 1961)

- Communication competence (Ruben, 1976)

- Academic and job performance (Black and Gregersen, 1990)

- The acquisition of culturally appropriate behaviors (Bochner, Lin &McLeod, 1979)

Ward, Bochner and Furnham in their article The Psychology of Culture Shock indicate that
the large debate among scholars on the assessment of intercultural adaptation finally
produced a three factor model of intercultural effectiveness: 1. Ability to manage
psychological stress, 2. Ability to communicate effectively, and 3. Ability to establish
interpersonal relationships. This model, we should observe, goes very much in parallel with
the culture shock triangle provided by E. Marx in her Breaking through culture shock -
what you need to succeed in international business (1999). Adaptation includes domain-
specific types such as work-performance and satisfaction (Lance and Richardson, 1985),
economic adaptation (Aycan and Berry, 1996) or academic achievement and adjustment to
school (Lese and Robbins, 1994) The unifying factor of these areas of study is the recognition
that psychological well-being and satisfaction as well as effective relationships with members
of the new culture are important components of adaptation for cross-cultural travelers. Ward
and colleagues (Searle and Ward, 1990; Ward and Kennedy, 1992) point out that intercultural
adaptation can be broadly divided into two categories:

1. Psychological (based on affective responses) refers to feelings of well-being

and satisfaction during cross-cultural transitions; it is strongly influenced by
factors such as life changes, personality, and social support variables

2. Socio-cultural (based on behaviors) refers to the ability to fit in or execute

effective interactions in a new cultural environment; it is affected by contact
variables such as quantity and quality of relations with host nationals, cultural
distance, and length of residence in the host country

5. Countering Culture Shock

Certain steps can be taken to help avoid the worst aspects of culture shock. Among them you
should consider the following:

Learn the language - Being able to communicate with the locals will minimize the stress of
your move.

Prepare for cultural differences - The more you know about the culture of your host country,
the more prepared you will be for a different way of life, and the easier it will be for you to
cope with new ideas and experiences. Misunderstandings due to cultural differences are a
reality but can be reduced through sensitivity and careful communication.

Be open-minded - Be open to accepting cultural differences and alternative ways of doing

things. The unfamiliar may be frightening at first but in time you will find yourself taking
these once-unfamiliar situations for granted.

Be patient - Be patient with yourself and allow yourself to make mistakes and learn
from them as you go along.

Take time off - Its natural to long for things to be the way they were in your own country.
Taking a break from all that is unfamiliar, helps. When adapting seems difficult, take part in
a familiar activity (read a book, watch a movie or listen to music in your home language).
You will find that this will energise you and help you tackle any challenges that you are

Following these suggestions should help you acclimatise to your new host country and
discover a whole new world of cultural meanings and knowledge.

We should also include here the quite often mentioned 10 steps for breaking through culture
shock discussed by Elisabeth Marx in her book Breaking Through Culture Shock. She
describes here the common stresses experienced by managers or other professionals when
they transfer from their own familiar working environments to that of another country, or
culture. Sometimes this can be a life-changing move across the sea. For example, if you have
only ever worked for small family companies and you get a job with an international
corporation with a staff of thousands, you will naturally experience a feeling akin to culture
shock as you learn how your new colleagues think and work- or even how they expect others
to spend their leisure time. Marx (1999: 13) describes the three levels of adaptation necessary
for a manager to be effective when moving between workplace cultures:

1. Coping with the stress of the transition (achieving contentment).
2. Changing perception and interpretation of events and behavior (developing a way of
thinking that is culturally effective)

3. Developing better social skills and an international identity.

Marx (1999: 15) assumes that interpreting foreign gestures, words, and behaviors can either
be dealt with in negative ways by ignoring them completely and isolating oneself, for
example, or by remaining ignorant about their meanings and thereby limiting ones own
understanding and enjoyment of this new culture; or by becoming an internationalist or
interculturalist- becoming fully aware of the complexity and ambiguity of exchanges in
foreign cultures. Here are the 10 tips she suggests (1999: 18-19) to be used for minimizing
culture shock:

1. Dont let culture shock take you by surprise. Take time to learn about it before you go
and read up as much as you can on local culture as well as the symptoms of culture
shock itself.
2. Expect culture shock to happen in countries or even towns close to you as well as on
the other side of the world.

3. As soon as you arrive, make sure you identify support networks of others in a similar
position to you- social groups in your company, language classes and so on- as well as
local people.

4. Dont give in to the stress, for example by drinking or eating too much or becoming
socially isolated; this will only increase symptoms of culture shock long term.

5. Ask others in your position for tips. With the rise of social networks such as LinkedIn,
Facebook etc. it will be easy to make contact with those who have been there and
done that. Use online connections to help while you settle in, but dont fall into the
trap of living a virtual life and never stepping outside- this will not help your cultural
adjustment in the long run.

6. Give yourself time to adapt - dont overload yourself with work in the beginning. You
will need time and space for the simplest things. Make sure you dont pile the stress
on all at once by working long hours.

7. Dont hesitate to seek professional help if you continue to feel isolated and need
support from a counselor.

8. You might well experience culture shock when returning home, in reverse. Be aware
of this and recognize that it is normal.

9. Try and remain positive about your experiences. Once you have overcome culture
shock, you will be much better adapted to your new environment and you will have
achieved something worthwhile and valuable.

10. Retain a sense of humour!

As you can see culture shock can be managed. Moreover, it has also benefits that strengthen
your personality. We just mention here some identified by a student1, i.e. a person close to
your age and experience:

1. Experiencing culture shock will shape your personality significantly by

teaching you to trust your gut, survive during periods of loneliness and
unfamiliarity, and develop a thicker skin.

2. Experiencing culture shock by coming into contact with a new language will
force you to adapt and learn the new language quickly.

3. After the effects of culture shock subside and you become more comfortable
in your new surroundings, you will have an opportunity to expand your circle
of friends to include people from all over the world.

4. You should never be afraid of culture shock because getting to know an

entirely new culture is a tremendously exciting and liberating experience.

5. Experiencing culture shock will teach you the valuable lesson that this world
is a small place, and that despite our differences, we are all similar and

See http://www.vergemagazine.com/

Ana Parfenova is a fourth-year Political Science and English student at the University of
British Columbia in Vancouver. Her love of writing, travel, and learning about different
cultures led her to become a Public Relations Coordinator for AIESEC UBC.
And last but not least, lets not forget that There is wisdom in turning as often as possible
from the familiar to the unfamiliar: it keeps the mind nimble, it kills prejudice, and it fosters
humor. George Santayana


1. Read and comment upon:


An extreme reaction was reported by a British manager in Shanghai: Culture shock -

continuous feeling of being unwell due to two bouts of bad food poisoning, loneliness and,
most prominent, the constant staring from the Chinese. This curiosity became very upsetting -
everything in my hotel room was looked through, all drawers in my desk searched through.
Also, telephone conversations were tapped, I could hear the click and the echo which does
not happen now. This led to continuous paranoia. To resolve this, I eventually managed to
relax and to take no notice, I pretended it did not happen and most importantly, every three to
four weeks I left China to visit other countries such as Japan, Korea and Hawaii.

Another culture shock was the physical adaptation to the pollution and the stinging eyes, the
sheer noise of cars and people. I also felt helpless - I was deported once for not having a
correct visa and had an overnight stay in a state-run guest house with a Government
immigration official. So why am I here? Because it is a good career move (hopefully) for the
future. (E. Marx)


The positive effect of international work on self-development is illustrated in the following

comment: My most positive surprise was to realize that I was a born survivor and that I
could deal with problems. It was very good for my self-image and I learned that I had a lot of
staying power. (Marx)

2. Read about the signs and symptoms of culture shock; which of them have you
experienced when you were away and try to explain why.
A feeling of sadness and loneliness

An over-concern about your health

Headaches, pains, and allergies

Insomnia or sleeping too much

Feelings of anger, depression, vulnerability

Idealizing your own culture

Trying too hard to adapt by becoming obsessed with the new culture

The smallest problems seem overwhelming

Feeling shy or insecure

Become obsessed with cleanliness

Overwhelming sense of homesickness

Feeling lost or confused

Questioning your decision to move to this place

(see the list mentioned by Diane Smith, International moving: culture shock,



Aycan, Zeynep; Berry, John W. (1996). Impact of employment-related experiences on

immigrants' psychological well-being and adaptation to Canada. In Canadian
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Black, J.S., & Gregersen, H.B. (1990). Expectations, satisfaction, and intention to leave of
American expatriate managers in Japan, in International Journal of Intercultural
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Bochner, S., Lin, A., & McLeod, B.M. (1979). Cross-cultural contact and the development
of an international perspective, in Journal of Social Psychology, 107, 29-41.

Brislin, R. (1981). Cross-Cultural Encounters. New-York: Pergamon.

Dutton, Edward. (2011). Towards a Scientific Model of Culture Shock and Intercultural
Communication, Journal of Intercultural Communication, Issue 27, November 2011,

Engert et al (2010) Assessing cultural compatibility: A McKinsey perspective on getting

practical about culture in M&A (McKinsey and Company: June 2010).

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Ward, Colleen, Stephen Bochner, Adrian Furnham. (2001). The Psychology of Culture Shock,
Philadelphia: Routledge.


Upon completion of this chapter, you will
- understand the importance of nonverbal communication in business, get familiar
with different types of nonverbal communication, develop nonverbal
communication skills that will increase the efficiency of your communication
with a foreign business partner
- understand such terms as nonverbal communication, kinesics, proxemics,
paralanguage, chronemics, haptics
- distinguish/ differentiate between verbal/nonverbal communication,


Generally, in communication, which is in your opinion more important: verbal or

nonverbal communication?

As far as the business activity is concerned, do you consider one of the two types of
communication prevails? Which and why?

Is nonverbal communication a barrier in transmitting the message? On what


Are you familiar with cultural differences in nonverbal communication? Did you
experience directly such communicative circumstances?

1. Verbal Communication

Verbal communication operates with signs and symbols and refers to the individuals ability

to use signs and symbols as substitutes of the objects or actions

to operate with those signs and symbols in the mental plan.

Verbal communication is also called coded communication because it contains all the verbal
messages, with all the senses of a language. Using verbal communication one expresses
ideas, opinions, directions, dissatisfaction, objections, emotions and pleasures. When it comes
to business, verbal communication is very important for the reason being that you are dealing
with a variety of people who have different cultures, ages and with different levels of
experience. To be successful in business communication, you need to be aware of the fact that
you must be flexible with people depending on the circumstances. Presenting a speech in
front of an audience at work, meeting with a business partner, negotiating an important
contract, writing various business documents are only several instances in which you may
use your communication skills. We will approach in detail some verbal communication
practices relevant for the business environment in the 6th chapter of this course.

2. Non-verbal Intercultural Communication

Non-verbal communication includes all the signs, gestures and pantomimes with which we
transfer a message, a feeling or a reaction. In our global society, where intercultural situations
occur often, non-verbal interaction is especially significant. People all over the world use
non-verbal communication. Its meaning varies across cultures, however, and what is
acceptable in one culture may be taboo in another. All of these variations make
misinterpretation a barrier in non-verbal communication. The social and cultural
environment, rather than our genetic heritage, determines the non-verbal communication
system that we use.

2.1. Definition. Typology.

In simple terms, non-verbal communication refers to all conscious or unconscious stimuli

other than the spoken word between communicating parties, or the messages we send and
receive from others without words, both on a conscious and subconscious level (Perkins,
2008: 29). These non-verbal processes sometimes account for as much as 70 percent of
communication. P. S. Perkins in her book The Art and Science of Communication points out
the role non-verbal communication plays in the workplace. She observes that the nonverbal
codes of a society are learned in the same way we learn language, as an integral part of our
symbol system (Perkins, 2008: 30) and convey an impressive amount of meaning.

Because of cultural differences, the potential for misunderstanding and disagreement
regarding non-verbal communication is great. Therefore, successful interaction in
intercultural settings requires just as much understanding of non-verbal messages as the
verbal ones.

Non-verbal messages can be broken down into visual, vocal, physical, temporal, and spatial
messages and they fulfill, according to Perkins (2008: 31) seven functions:

1. to substitute words

2. to control the impression others have of us

3. to complement the words we speak

4. to contradict our words

5. to confirm the messages of others

6. to distinguish relationships between ourselves and others

7. to maintain a congruent understanding of the messages within a shared environment (i.e.


Visual non-verbal messages in business generally refer to ones professional appearance or

the outer image you present to the world according to prescribed societal and workplace
constructs (Perkins, 2008: 32). This generally indicates appropriateness, professionalism,
and position within the organizational setting.

Vocal non-verbal messages in business generally refer to ones professional voice that is to
how you say what you say or paralanguage. Paralanguage makes up all the sounds people
produce with their voices that are not words, including laughter, tone and pace of voice, and
empty words and phrases such as um and you know. Through pitch, speed, volume,
pause and silence, people confer emotional and intellectual meanings to their messages.
Chinese people value silence more than the use of words; they believe it brings inner peace
and wisdom. On the other hand, North Americans tend to think silence has no
communication. While a Chinese person would consent to a question through silence, an
American would interpret silence as uncertainty.

Physical non-verbal messages, also known as kinesics, or body language, refer to the body
movements in communication, such as facial expressions, eye contact, hand gestures and
touch. Common rituals such as nodding in agreement and greeting friends vary considerably
from culture to culture. A handshake is the appropriate way to greet someone in some
countries such as the United States; a warm embrace is used in Latin America, "namaste" is
spoken in India and a bow of the head is done in Japan. While a Japanese person points his
forefinger to his face when referring to himself, a Chinese person points to his nose and a
North American usually points to his chest. In some cultures, people focus their gaze on the
eyes or face of the conversational partner; in others, they must use only peripheral gaze or no
gaze at all. Haptics is a subcategory of kinesics and is defined as the non-verbal code of
touching and touching behavior that accompanies communication. It is very common to greet
by hugging a friend or a family member, to touch the person you are speaking to in some
cultures. In others, though, people seldom touch at all when speaking.

Chronemics is the study of the use of time in non-verbal communication, including people's
understanding of present, past and future. Time is one of the most central differences that
separate cultures in the way of doing things. For Western countries, time is quantitative,
measured in units that reflect progress. It is logical, sequential and focused in the now,
moving toward the future and away from the past. In Eastern countries, however, time feels
like it has unlimited continuity. India is the best place to depict the Eastern idea of time. Time
moves endlessly through various cycles, becoming and disappearing. Time is infinite,
stretching far beyond the human lifetime. According to an essay by Michelle LeBaron on
BeyondIntractability.org, "There is a certain timeless quality to time, an aesthetic almost too
intricate and vast for the human mind to comprehend." Perkins (2008) stresses the importance
of the technological development in time apprehension:

- a highly technological, future-oriented country is very time conscious; here time is

segmented according to activity; it is a monochronic society
- a more agrarian society perceives time as a more holistic construct, determined by ties
to family, clan, community, and nature; this is a polychronic society

Proxemics refers to the study of the use of space in non-verbal communication, meaning
anything from architecture and furniture to the distance between people who interact in a
given situation. Usually, people keep a "social distance" between themselves and the person
to whom they speak. This distance amount differs from culture to culture. If someone stands
or sits very close when one speaks with another person, one may see the other's attempt to
widen the space between them as evidence of coldness, condescension or a lack of interest.
Those who prefer having more social distance, or personal space, may view attempts to get
closer as pushy, disrespectful or aggressive. Societies that have a collective consciousness see
space as something to be shared while individualistic societies value professional or public
distances characterized by a considerable amount of space.

2.2. Importance of Non Verbal Communication in Business

Business is about information bosses tell employees what they should do, presenters tell
their audiences about products and sales representatives tell clients about products. For
information to have its desired effect, it must be received in the right way. The speaker's non-
verbal communication skills determine how the listener receives what he or she has to say.
Non-verbal communication cues, used properly, can lead to positive attitude in a business
relationship and develop interpersonal relationships such as:

Trust. Trust is essential to running a successful business. Clients and businesses must trust
each other to uphold contracts. Employees must trust each other to complete their designated
tasks, and teamwork fails without trust. Non-verbal cues play a large part in establishing trust
between people. For example, good eye contact by a speaker encourages trust from his or her

Confidence. Appearing confident is important to establishing an effective image in the

workplace. Listeners look for signs of confidence in speakers to determine how strongly they
believe in what they are saying, and nervousness can seem like a lack of sincerity.
Maintaining a straight posture, a pleasant expression and a calm manner communicates
confidence to listeners.

Authority. Most businesses operate using a system of hierarchy. A boss manages the
employees under him or her. For management to be effective, the employees must respect the
boss and feel a responsibility to carry out his or her directives. Employees respect comes
from the projection of a sense of authority. Managers can convey this by maintaining a
confident posture. They should be firm, but not aggressive, when telling employees what to
do; a show of uncertainty gives employees a reason to doubt the direction.

Connections. Business opportunities are often found through friends or acquaintances.
Building personal relationships is vital to finding these opportunities, which is why
businesspeople place importance on the act of networking. Non-verbal communication is
important in forming networks. A firm handshake creates a bond between people when they
meet for the first time, and that connection is strengthened by eye contact when they speak.
Calm speech indicates openness to forming a friendship. These cues, more than the content of
what is said, lay the foundation for the formation of a business connection.

The importance of non-verbal communication lays in the fact that it is one of the key aspects
of communication. It is especially important in a high-context culture. Its multiple functions
include repeating, accentuating, complementing and contradicting a verbal message. This
type of communication also regulates interactions, such as non-verbal cues conveying when a
person should speak or not speak. Finally, non-verbal communication can even substitute a
verbal message through gestures and facial expressions, especially when people do not speak
the same language. Each of these characteristics influences intercultural communication and
can be responsible for conflict or the escalation of conflict when it leads to bad
communication or misinterpretation.

2.3. Non-Verbal Barriers to Communication

Lee Hopkins, a leading Australian business motivator, defines nonverbal communication as

anything aside from oral words that send a message. R. L. Birdwhistell (quoted by Rus 2002)
asserts that about 35% from the message is represented by verbal communication and the rest
is represented by non-verbal communication. Albert Mehrabian (see Rus 2002) who studied
the transmission of emotions believes that 7% from the content of emotions is transmitted by
words, 55% is spread by video channel, 33% by paralinguistic channels, and the rest by other
kind of channels. Nonverbal communication is just as important as verbal communication
because people respond to what they see more than what they hear. Consequently, one should
identify the barriers to nonverbal communication to sharpen ones communication skills.

One of the aspects that may cause problems is paralanguage. Defined as the way inflections
are used when sending a message verbally, paralanguage creates a nonverbal communication
barrier when it is misunderstood or not applied appropriately. It could be a persons tone of
voice, pitch or volume that defines the words to mean one thing or another. For example,
someone can say, get out of here, and depending on how it was said could either mean the

person is upset or could be using the phrase as an expression of awe. If someone is talking,
but they are mumbling their words or speaking very softly, you may think they dont care
about what they are saying or they may be shy and intimidated.

The lack of expression or silence send a message themselves, which can create a
communication barrier between the sender and receiver. Silence can be used as a threatening
tool to ignore and disregard another persons need for communication, or it can be used to
improve communication. Silence, used in the appropriate way, can help you and the other
person think through the messages being sent and how to appropriately respond. A persons
body language coupled with silence will help to define the message being sent.

Body language can create a communication barrier. A person with the head down, folded
arms or turning ones back to you are all examples of body language that creates a wall from
communicating. Body language is used to send messages that you dont care, dont want to
talk or that you are angry. It is the use of your physical body to send a message. This can
include positions, symbols made with your hands or a stance.

A persons facial expression can act as a barrier, especially when there is insecurity or fear
involved in the conversation. Facial expressions can be misinterpreted and misunderstood.
For example, if you are telling someone something highly sensitive and they dont make any
facial expression, you may perceive that they are not listening, resulting in a barrier where
you close off your heart and end the conversation.

3. Cultural Differences in Nonverbal Communication

Nonverbal communication expresses meaning or feeling without words. Universal emotions,

such as happiness, fear, sadness, are expressed in a similar nonverbal way throughout the
world. There are, however, nonverbal differences across cultures that may be a source of
confusion for foreigners. Let's look at the way people express sadness. In many cultures, such
as the Arab and Iranian cultures, people express grief openly. They mourn out loud, while
people from other cultures (e.g. China and Japan) are more subdued. In Asian cultures, the
general belief is that is unacceptable to show emotion openly (whether sadness, happiness, or

Let's take another example of how cultures differ in their nonverbal expression of emotion.

Feelings of friendship exist everywhere in the world, but their expression varies. It is
acceptable in some countries for men to embrace and for women to hold hands; in other
countries, these displays of affection are discouraged or prohibited.

As you can see with nonverbal communication, what is considered usual or polite behavior in
one culture may be seen as unusual or impolite in another. One culture may determine that
snapping fingers to call a waiter is appropriate, whereas another may consider this gesture
rude. We are often not aware of how gestures, facial expressions, eye contact, and the use of
conversational distance affect communication. To interpret another culture's style of
communication, it is necessary to study the "silent language" of that culture.

3.1. Gestures and Body Positioning

Gestures are specific body movements that carry meaning. Hand motions alone can convey
many meanings: "Come here," Go away," It's okay," and "That's expensive!" are just a few
examples. The gestures for these phrases often differ across cultures. For example, beckoning
people to come with the palm up is common in the United States. This same gesture in the
Philippines, Korea, and parts of Latin America as well as other countries is considered rude. In
some countries, only an animal would be beckoned with the palm up.

When traveling to another country, foreign visitors soon learn that not all gestures are
universal. For example, the "O.K." gesture in the American culture is a symbol for money in
Japan. This same gesture is obscene in some Latin American countries.

Many American business executives enjoy relaxing with their feet up on their desks. But to
show a person from Saudi Arabia or Thailand the sole of one's foot is extremely insulting,
because the foot is considered the dirtiest part of the body.

3.2. Facial Expressiveness

Facial expressions carry meaning that is determined by situations and relationships. For
instance, in American culture the smile is typically an expression of pleasure. A smile may
show affection, convey politeness, or disguise true feelings. For example many people in
Russia consider smiling at strangers in public to be unusual and even suspicious behavior. Yet
many Americans smile freely at strangers in public places (although this is less common in big
cities). Some Russians believe that Americans smile in the wrong places; some Americans
believe that Russians don't smile enough. In Southeast Asian cultures, a smile is frequently
used to cover emotional pain or embarrassment. Vietnamese people may tell the sad story of

how they had to leave their country but end the story with a smile.

Our faces reveal emotions and attitudes, but we should not attempt to "read" people from
another culture as we would "read" someone from our own culture. The degree of facial
expressiveness one exhibits varies among individuals and cultures. The fact that members of
one culture do not express their emotions as openly as do members of another does not mean
that they do not experience emotions. Rather, there are cultural restraints on the amount of
nonverbal expressiveness permitted. For example, in public and formal situations many
Japanese do not show their emotions as freely as Americans do. More privately and with
friends, Japanese and Americans seem to show their emotions similarly. Many teachers in the
United States have a difficult time knowing whether their Japanese students understand and
enjoy their lessons. The American teacher is looking for more facial responsiveness than what
the Japanese student is comfortable with in the classroom situation.

It is difficult to generalize about Americans and facial expressiveness because of individual

and ethnic differences in the United States. People from certain ethnic backgrounds in the
United States tend to be more facially expressive than others. The key is to try not to judge
people whose ways of showing emotions are different. If we judge according to our own
cultural norms, we may make the mistake of "reading' the other person incorrectly.

3.3. Eye Contact

Eye contact is important because insufficient or excessive eye contact can create
communication barriers. In relationships, it serves to show intimacy, attention, and influence.
As with facial expressions, there are no specific rules governing eye behavior in the United
States, except that it is considered rude to stare, especially at strangers. In parts of the United
States, however, such as on the West Coast and in the South, it is quite common to glance at
strangers when passing them. For example, it is usual for two strangers walking toward each
other to make eye contact, smile, and perhaps even say "Hi," before immediately looking
away. This type of contact doesn't mean much; it is simply a way of acknowledging another
person's presence. In general, Americans make less eye contact in bus stations, for example,
than in more comfortable settings such as a university student center.

Patterns of eye contact are different across cultures. Some Americans feel uncomfortable with
the "gaze" that is sometimes associated with Arab or Indian communication patterns. For
Americans, this style of eye contact is too intense. Yet too little eye contact may also be
viewed negatively, because it may convey a lack of interest, inattention, or even mistrust. The

relationship between the lack of eye contact and mistrust in the American culture is stated
directly in the expression "Never trust a person who doesn't look you in the eyes." In contrast,
in many other parts of the world (especially in Asian countries), a person's lack of eye contact
toward an authority figure signifies respect and deference.

3.4. Conversation Distance

Unconsciously, we all keep a comfortable distance around us when we interact with other
people. This distance has had several names over the years, including "personal space,"
"interpersonal distance," "comfort zone," and "body bubble." This space between us and
another person forms invisible walls that define how comfortable we feel at various distances
from other people.

The amount of space changes depending on the nature of the relationship. For example, we are
usually more comfortable standing closer to family members than to strangers. Personality
also determines the size of the area with which we are comfortable when talking to people.
Introverts often prefer to interact with others at a greater distance than do extroverts. Culture
styles are important too. A Japanese employer and employee usually stand farther apart while
talking than their American counterparts. Latin Americans and Arabs tend to stand closer than
Americans do when talking.

For Americans, the usual distance in social conversation ranges from about an arm's length to
four feet. Less space in the American culture may be associated with either greater intimacy or
aggressive behavior. The common practice of saying "Excuse me," for the slightest accidental
touching of another person reveals how uncomfortable Americans are if people get too close.
Thus, a person whose "space" has been intruded upon by another may feel threatened and
react defensively. In cultures where close physical contact is acceptable and even desirable,
Americans may be perceived as cold and distant.

3.5. Silence

U.S. people are uncomfortable with silence and often use small talk to avoid it. In Asian
countries and in Finland silence is an important part of communication. It is used to show
respect and to give thought to what is being said. Middle Easterners do not appreciate silence
and people of the Netherlands do not use silence they welcome opinions of everyone in the

4. Observations

Culture does not always determine the message of nonverbal communication. The individual's
personality, the context, and the relationship also influence its meaning. However, like verbal
language, nonverbal language is linked to the person's cultural background. People are
generally comfortable with others who have "body language" similar to their own. One
research study demonstrated that when British graduate students imitated some Arab patterns
of nonverbal behavior (making increased eye contact, smiling, and directly facing their Arab
partners), the Arabs felt that these students were more likeable and trustworthy than most of
the other British students.

Non-verbal communication in business occurs on a daily basis. Cooperating people tend to sit
side by side, while competitors will frequently face one another. Crossed legs or folded arms
during a business meeting may signify relaxation or resistance to the ideas being presented.
Eye contact during a business meeting communicates interest, and a manager in a company
may maintain eye contact longer than a subordinate employee does.

When one person's nonverbal language matches that of another, there is increased comfort. In
nonverbal communication across cultures there are similarities and differences. Whether we
choose to emphasize the former or the latter, the "silent language" is much louder than it first


1. Read about cultural differences described by Michelle Zehr, in her Cultural differences in
business communication styles, (on http://www.ehow.com/info_8020031_cultural-differences-
business-communication-styles.html). Can you find such characteristics in Romanian
business culture as well?

Gestures. Hand and arm gestures in business communication can make or break a business
deal. Gestures used in the United States which often have a common meaning amongst
Americans, can be deemed as very offensive to individuals from other business cultures. One
example of cultural differences is the use of pointing a finger to signify someone should look

at something. This gesture especially in Asian cultures signifies calling a dog. As a result,
this gesture is very offensive. In Asian cultures, individuals point with the entire hand, as
opposed to one finger.

Touch. In the United States, you may never have thought twice about shaking the hand of an
individual during an important business meeting. However, in many other cultures, this
simple act of solidarity or friendship is considered inappropriate. In many Middle Eastern
cultures, the left hand is never used, except for personal hygiene. If you were in a meeting
with business professionals in the Middle East, you should never use your left hand to touch
another individual or to pick up objects. This is deemed unsanitary and unprofessional.
Additionally, Muslim cultures frown upon touching the hand of an individual of the opposite

Masculinity and Femininity. In some business cultures, men are seen to be the more
dominating force in making business decisions. As a result, men making business deals may
lead to more success. In Japan, men are seen as assertive, competitive and ambitious. Men are
also designated to be the accumulators of wealth. As a result, men should be making business
deals. However, cultures such as that of Sweden place more emphasis on building
relationships, showing a sense of compassion and improving the general overall quality of
life in a business partnership. This type of culture is seen as more feminine. As a result,
women may be more successful in making a business deal.

Separation of Power. When planning a business meeting or function with certain cultures,
you need to be careful about how you mingle. In cultures including Arab nations and Latin
American countries, there is a distinct separation of power. Those with high levels of power
in a business must be respected. Their ideas should never be questioned, and inferior
employees should not mingle with these individuals on a social basis, even if a function is for
business. This is the exact opposite of the United States. In America, interaction between
superiors and inferior employees is perfectly acceptable. Superiors welcome ideas and can
interact with their employees in a social setting.

2. We pointed out that ones appearance is important in the workplace. How do you
perceive yourself in this area of communication? Are you aware of the non-verbal

messages you send and receive through your physical appearance? Are you satisfied to just
mirror everyone else or do you adopt an attitude of personal excellence?

3. What message does your body language convey? Observe yourself. Do you look at
people when they are speaking to you? Do you look away when speaking to others?

4. Think about how you deal with time in your personal and professional life. Are you
content with the way you manage your time or are there improvements that can be made?

5. How is your handshake: weak or limp, strong or clammy?

3. Verbal communication skills versus non-verbal communication skills

Below you will find top 10 verbal communication tips mentioned by Todd Smith in his book
Little Things Matter (see http://www.littlethingsmatter.com). These skills are important both
in our personal lives and in our professional lives.

Which of them belong to your own profile?

Which of them do you consider you should improve?

Can you attach to each of these verbal skills nonverbal items that fit well in the context?

1. Be friendly. People who communicate with a friendly tone and warm smile almost always
have the edge because we are subconsciously drawn to people who are friendly.

2. Think before you speak. Many people say whatever goes through their minds without
putting any thought into what they are saying. As a result they say things that end up
reflecting poorly on themselves.

3. Be clear. Most of us dont have the time nor do we want to spend our emotional energy to
figure out what someone else is trying to say. People who are indirect in their verbal
communication and who tend to hint at things without saying whats really on their mind are
seldom respected.

4. Dont talk too much. Very few people like to be around someone who talks too much and
dominates the conversation.

5. Be your authentic self. People are attracted to someone who speaks from the heart and is
genuine, transparent, and real.

6. Practice humility. Humility is having a modest view of ones own importance. It is one of
the most attractive personality traits one can possess and is one of the most significant
predictors of someone who is respected. People who speak with humility and genuine respect
for others are almost always held in high regard.

7. Speak with confidence. Speaking with confidence includes the words you choose, the tone
of your voice, your eye contact, and body language.

8. Focus on your body language. When you are engaged in face-to-face verbal
communication, your body language can play as significant of a role in the message you
communicate as the words you speak. Your body language communicates respect and
interest. It puts real meaning behind your words.

9. Be concise. Plan ahead. Constantly ask yourself, How can I say what needs to be said
using the fewest number of words possible while still being courteous and respectful?

10. Learn the art of listening. Being an attentive listener is more important in verbal
communication than any words that can come out of your mouth. You must show a sincere
interest in what is being said, ask good questions, listen for the message within the message,
and avoid interrupting.


Ciubotaru, Maria. (2012). Non-verbal intercultural communication, in


DeLee, Danielle. Importance of Non Verbal Communication in Business available on



Hopkins, Lee. (2004). Nonverbal Communication in Business available on



LeBaron, Michelle. (2003). Cross-Cultural Communication in BeyondIntractability.org,


LeBaron, Michelle. (2003). Bridging Cultural Conflicts. A New Approach for a Changing
World. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

Martin, J. S., Chaney, L. H. (2009). Communication Skills Needed for Successful

Interactions with Americas Largest Trading Partners, Proceedings of the 74th Annual
Convention of the Association for Business Communication, November 4-7, 2009,
Portsmouth, Virginia.

Okun, Barbara F., Fried, Jane, Okun, Marcia L. (1999). Understanding Diversity. A Learning
as Practice Primer. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole Publishing, pp. 59-78.

Papa, Nicole. Non-Verbal Barriers to Communication available on eHow.com


Perkins, P. S. (2008). The Art and Science of Communication. Tools for Effective
Communication in the Workplace, Hoboken, New Jersey:John Wiley&Sons, Inc.

Rus, Flaviu Clin. (2002). Introducere n tiina comunicrii i a relaiilor publice, Iai:
Editura Institutul European, Seria Comunicare.

Smith, Todd. (2010). Little Things Matter, Success Media (November 12, 2010).

Wang De-hua and Li Hui. (2007). Non-Verbal Language in Cross-Cultural Communication

in "Sino-US English Teaching, October 2007, Vol. 4, No. 10, Serial no. 46, available
on the internet at http://www.logosnetwork.net/m1/file.php/4/Wang_Li.pdf.


Upon completion of this chapter, you will
- understand the importance of oral communication style, how national cultural
patterns influence the negotiation process, and the way in which a
presentation/meeting is conducted
- understand such terms as communication styles, communication etiquette, style
of interaction, audience
- distinguish/ differentiate between etiquette/ mannerisms, persuade/ influence/
negotiate, meetings, presentations, negotiations


What oral communication skills do you need in order to turn an intercultural business
meeting into a successful one?

What can be the weak/strong points in organizing and conducting a meeting?

How can a meeting be conducted for maximum efficiency?

What are the elements you have to consider when preparing a presentation?

What skills make a successful negotiator?

1.Communication efficiency

Talking is easy; communication, which means an exchange or communion with another,

requires greater skill. P.S. Perkins in The Art and Science of Communication distinguishes
five levels of communication: (1) intrapersonal, (2) interpersonal, (3) small
group/organizational, (4) public, (5) mass communication, each of them having its particular
place and importance in professional business communication.

(1) intrapersonal communication is about how do you see yourself; self-esteem (how you feel
about yourself) and self-worth (the value you place on yourself in comparison to others);
creating a self-image at work; self-monitoring (Perkins, 2008: 6)

(2) interpersonal communication includes factors of socialization, perception, and diversity;

implies relations based on confidence, trust and mutual support; includes critical thinking,
empathetic listening skills, and ability to contribute; it values communicative attitudes such
as being the person you want to work with; choosing the right people, making the right
connections; making room for the other persons reality

(3) small group/organizational communication implies cooperation, competition; co-

opetition, defined as the need for every person to contribute their individual best to the
collective (Perkins, 2008: 96); leadership communication; communication network;
problem-solving and conflict-resolution communicative skills all used for the beneficial
functioning of the group/organization (Perkins, 2008: 91/chapter 4).

(4) public communication - defined by Perkins (2008: 112) as the act of communicating
publicly in a private or open forum, whether to inform, persuade, or entertain. This form of
communication is needed in various circumstances such as business gatherings, interviewing,
business meetings, or negotiations. Its major actors are the presenter and the audience.

(5) mass communication or the multiple message system that connects members of a society
or group to one another by means of public communication for the purpose of maintaining
cultural values, norms, attitudes, and beliefs. (Perkins, 2008: 135). Its most important tool is
persuasion used by the message creators to influence the receivers to act as desired
(Perkins, 2008: 142)

A skilled communicator should take into account the above mentioned levels on which
communication takes place, make the difference between them, and act appropriately in any
context of communication by applying the most efficient tools/attitudes in each specific
situation. Moreover, when working with other people in a cross-cultural environment one
should pay considerable attention to differences that may appear in communication styles.
According to A. J. Schuler (2003) these may refer to:

Opening and closing conversations. Cultures answer differently to such questions as: Who
addresses whom, when and how? Who has the right or duty to speak first? What is the proper
way to conclude a conversation? Customs may differ with respect to modes of address,
salutations, levels of deference to age or social position, acceptable ways to conclude
gracefully etc.

Taking turns during conversations. Taking turns in an interactive way or listening thoroughly
and without comment, without immediate response are two different approaches of a
dialogue, dependant on cultural habits.

Interrupting. In some cultures interruptions are considered rude.

Use of silence. Some cultures consider silence before a response as a sign of thoughtfulness
and deference, while other cultures experience silence as a sign of hostility. In the West, for
example, twenty seconds of silence during a meeting is an extraordinarily long time, and
people will feel uncomfortable with that.

Appropriate topics of conversation. Some cultures consider vulgar to speak about money.

Use of humor. Humor can help build immediate rapport in the West, but can be experienced
as a sign of disrespect in some Asian cultures.

Knowing how much to say. In some places, less is definitely more, whereas in other places it
is more valued to wrap a rather small point up in a longer preamble. This is not appreciated
by Westerners, who value speaking directly and to the point. On the contrary, there are cases
in which Westerners say too much and damage communication, depending on the context.
Cultural differences also include deference based on age and social standing and influence
how much is appropriate to say.

Sequencing elements during conversation. This implies possible answers for the following
questions: How soon in a conversation is it appropriate to ask for directions? At what point
during a conversation is it appropriate to touch upon more sensitive issues? In all cultures
sensitive issues are addressed in a way that connotes respect to all involved. Sequencing and
timing matter a lot since they connote very different things to the listener, depending on the
specific culture they belong to.

Business people should learn the customs that refer to the making of deals, the transaction of
commerce, the degree to which details are specified in advance. Education before an
intercultural meeting or negotiation is absolutely necessary. A competent cross cultural
communicator needs to develop the ability to adapt to any possible situation. Here are a few
tips that may help you:

Don't take another person's reaction or anger personally, even if they lash out at you in
what seems a personal manner. Another person's mood or response is more likely
about fear or frustration than it is about you as an individual.
You don't have to have all the answers. It's OK to say, "I don't know." If you want to
find out, say so, then follow up to share your findings.

Respond (facts and feelings); don't react (feelings) e.g., "Tell me more about your
concern" or "I understand your frustration" instead of "Hey, I'm just doing my job" or
"It's not my job" (which is sure to cause more irritation). Share responsibility for any
communication in which you are a participant, and realize that sometimes, maybe
often, your own personal reactions may be causing your frustrations about
communicating with others.

Understand that people want to feel heard more than they care about whether you
agree with them. It is strange how many people complain about others not hearing
them, yet they don't listen to others either! You can show that you are listening by
giving someone your complete attention and saying things like:

1. "Tell me more about your concern."

2. "What is it about XXX that concerns you?"

3. "I'm interested in what you've just said. Can you share a little bit about what
lead you to that belief?"

4. "What would have to happen for you to be more comfortable with XXX?"

Remember that what someone says and what we hear can be amazingly different! Our
personal filters, assumptions, judgments, and beliefs can distort what we hear. Restate
what you think you heard and ask, "Have I understood you correctly?"

Acknowledge inconvenience or frustration and offer a timeline, particularly if you
need someone else's cooperation or your activities will affect them. For example, if
you will be updating someone's desktop computer system and need access to her
office, you might say, "I know it's frustrating to have someone in your space at a time
that might not be convenient for you, and I appreciate your cooperation. It'll help us to
keep your system working well. We expect to be in your office at about 3 p.m., and
out by 5 p.m."

Don't offer advice unless asked. This can be tough, particularly if we have experience
that we think might benefit another person. Use respectful expressions such as "One
potential option is..." or "One thing that helped me in a similar situation was X. I'd be
happy to share more about my experience if you think it'd be helpful to you" instead
of "You should do X."

Look for common ground instead of focusing solely on differences. What might you
both be interested in? One way to begin discovering commonality is to share your
underlying intention, for example, "My intention in sharing this is to help you succeed
on this project."

Remember that change is stressful for most people, particularly if your activities
affect them in a way that they aren't scheduling or controlling. Our routines can be
comforting in the midst of what appears to be a chaotic world. So if you are in
someone's space or need him to do something on your timeline, provide as much
information as you can about what you will need from the person and when. If you
can, tell him how what you are doing will benefit him.

Work to keep a positive mental focus. One of the choices we always have is how we
see or experience any given circumstance. People who are considered skillful and
successful, including professional athletes and cultural leaders, work to maintain a
positive mind-set. Ask yourself, "What's great about this?" or "What can I learn from
this?" to help maintain a positive state.

Understand that most people, including you, have a unique, often self-serving,
agenda. This isn't necessarily bad, because it helps us achieve and protect ourselves.
Just don't assume that someone will know or share your agenda, so talking about

what's most important to you and asking what's most important to others, can help
build a solid foundation for conversation.

Improve your listening skill. Most people think they listen well, but the truth is that
most of people don't listen at all; they just speak and then think about what they're
going to say next. Good listening often means asking good questions and clearing
your mind of distractions, including what you're going to say next, whom you're
meeting with next, or what's going on outside.

2.Oral Communication Effectiveness

2.1. Meeting effectiveness

2.1.1. Characteristics

Culture is different in different countries and contexts. In international business environment

it affects how people approach, perceive and contribute towards meetings. International
meetings are an area where differences in cultural values, etiquette, interpretations of
professional conduct and corporate rules are at their most visible and challenging
content/ground to control.

International business meetings require great planning, organization and consideration if they
are to succeed in offering effective outcomes. Most international meetings take on a basic
format and structure whereby an agenda is set and attendants contribute to the topic of
discussion orally. In highly diverse international companies, one can find participants in a
meeting from the four corners of the world. Each will have their own cultural etiquettes,
gestures, mannerisms and ways of expression. Neil Payne in his article Effective
Multicultural International Business Meetings presents several examples of culture
influences that affect business peoples behavior in a meeting. He mentions time, hierarchy,
the purpose of meetings, meeting etiquette and mannerisms, expectations of meetings, group-
size in meetings, multi-cultural meetings, and alternative communication methods in
meetings. He points out the fact that time oriented cultures (i.e. the British, the Germans)
have strict approaches to how meetings run. They plan carefully the start time, the finishing
time and all the different stages in between. Oriental cultures and not only, see the start time
as an approximation, the finish time as non-fixed, and all the different stages in between as
flexible. The hierarchical nature of a culture can have a massive impact on the input given by
participants in an international meeting. For those belonging to hierarchical cultures speaking
ones mind, criticizing ideas, disagreeing openly, giving feedback and reporting problems in
front of the boss or manager are all areas they would feel uncomfortable with. While Western
meetings generally run to a tight schedule with an organized, pre-planned agenda in Oriental
cultures meetings are occasions for building personal relationships and strengthening bonds.

Still, even when intercultural awareness is achieved and appropriately addressed, meetings
might be unsuccessful, owing to some negative attitudes we may prevent if we carefully
examine them. Lisa Girard in her article 7 Deadly Sins of Business Meetings discusses seven
such instances:

1. Meetings that become useless rituals. Companies frequently meet simply because it's time
for their weekly, monthly or annual sales meeting.

2. Meetings that are a one-way conversation. People often tune out monotone lecturers and
mind-numbing PowerPoint presentations.

3. Meetings with lax leadership. In today's "virtual" conference rooms, time is often wasted
waiting for people to join the call and then getting stragglers up to speed on what they

4. Meetings that harp on setbacks instead of strategies. Its about the importance of planning
future strategies more that explaining or analyzing past actions.

5. Meetings that disrupt the most productive hours.

6. Meetings that are held in a bland environment. At the vast majority of meetings,
employees gather around a conference table and keep their gaze focused on the leader at the
head of the table.

7. Meetings that are too formal and rigid. Few meeting leaders have a sense of humor. The
result is a room full of bored, restless employees.

Can you suggest how one can prevent such shortcomings for the effectiveness of
international meetings?

2.1.2. People involved/ participants

In cross-cultural meetings the human factor is also of utmost importance. Therefore being
able to handle different types of people attending the meeting is a skill that should not be
neglected when it comes to the efficiency of a business relationship.

Craig Harrison analyzes ten different such characters that might damage the meeting, if not
carefully conducted.

The Monopolizer thinks he or she is the only one with wisdom on various subjects at the
business meeting. Such a person believes everyone else is there to hear him or her speak - and
so they do - incessantly. They consider that their ideas or beliefs are inherently more
important than those of other employees. The Tangent Talker hijacks the topic of the group by
taking discussions off on tangents - topics unrelated to the issue at hand. The Devil's
Advocate seems to relish taking the opposite tack. Whatever argument is put forth, this person
delights in taking an opposing view. The Cynic has a Masters degree in negativity. They like
the phrase, "it won't work," they are skilled at deflating and defeating whatever motion is in
motion: "Can't be done." "They'll never buy it." "We tried it once and it was a failure." Their
motto: just say no. Fence Sitters are unable to make decisions. Despite being in a deliberative
body, they are conflicted by multiple arguments, and can't "pull the trigger" when it's time to
make a decision in a business meeting. Another type is Pandora's Box Opener who has to
tackle issues that are emotional, touchy or are "hot buttons" for others in the business
meeting. In every business meeting there are topics that are sure to strike a nerve, to provoke
an emotional reaction or enter the group into a quagmire. The Pandora's Box Openers lead the
entire meeting into areas that provoke frustration, animosities, and often resentment too.
Once this box is opened, it's hard to get the issues back into the box. Discussions of salaries,
promotions or personal styles often stir up issues that hijack meetings. The Brown Noser is
obsequious, bending over backwards to ingratiate himself or herself to the boss, the meeting
leader or another power broker. They're so busy currying favor with others, they subvert
whatever true feelings they have about issues. This employee is seen by other employees to
be in the pocket of the person to whom they're cow-towing. Ultimately they are seen for who
they are and become predictable and not trusted. The Attacker deftly mixes negativity with
personal attacks, challenging others' ideas with vigor. Without regard to hurting others'
feelings, the Attacker uses a confrontational style to object to others' ideas and go against the
flow. Sadly, sometimes they don't even realize they're attacking. Then come the Jokers.

Jokers can be meeting monsters. Their constant joking has the effect of diminishing others'
serious ideas or suggestions. Their infusion of humor can belittle others' motions and makes it
difficult for some to be taken seriously. Finally, there are the Robots. These meeting monsters
are actually cell phones, pagers, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and laptop computers.
Each distracts their owner and others, too, as they intrude upon participants' attention spans
during business meetings.

With such a wide range of characters attending the meeting you should study the behavior of
each participant, including your own, to better understand your style of interaction. The
character of your business meetings will surely be affected by the characters in your meeting.

2.1.3. Strategy

There are also "systems strategies" you can apply in order to make meetings more efficient.
For example, you can ensure that no one person is the "head of the table" or in control of the
discussion (and therefore what gets discussed, and how). A circle of chairs welcomes others
to participate fully and contribute ideas that enrich the group. This is called the circle up
strategy. You can also employ the law of mobility: if you find that you are not learning or
contributing in the meeting, use your two feet and walk to a more productive place. This
saves your time and reduces the likelihood of worthless meetings. Don't arrive at conclusions
until you have honestly absorbed multiple perspectives and ideas. When you automatically
conclude that you're right and others are wrong, you eliminate any possibilities for dialogue
and participation, in other words - Suspend judgment. And finally, rather than sticking to a
formulaic meeting style (agenda, flip chart, one meeting leader and a task list), conduct your
meeting in a manner that works best for the group.

Meetings should involve meaningful and respectful communication. You have to consider
each participant's motivation and interests in order to allow them to take the solutions
discovered during the meeting out into the organization in positive and lasting ways.
Maintain your curiosity about what is happening, why it's happening and how you fit into it
all. This allows you to gather more information, which can expand understanding, reduce
stress and eliminate the "instant assumptions" and resulting judgments that we humans
normally (and all too often) make.

2.2. International presentations

Making a presentation in front of international audiences is more challenging than a
homogeneous local audience. It is well known a classical example quoted by many
researchers: if the world were a village of 1,000 people, it would include: 584 Asians, 124
Africans, 95 Europeans, 84 Latin Americans, 52 North Americans, six Australians and New
Zealanders, and 55 people from the former Soviet republics. They would speak more than
200 languages and reflect an astounding mix of different cultures. Fortunately, you would
most likely never get such a mixed audience. Remember, what works in one culture doesn't
always work in another.

How can you make your presentation a success among people from different parts of the
world? Rana Sinha considers that the audience behavior may be influenced by many factors
such as: culture, profession, gender, age, state of mind, general mood, reasons for being in
the audience. The way the audience receives information is influenced by culture. Many
Europeans (especially Scandinavians and Germans) and Japanese prefer to receive
information in detail, with lots of supporting documentation. They like a presenter to be
systematic and clear in presentation. American and Canadian audiences like a faster pace, and
many Asian and Latin cultures prefer presentations with emotional appeal. Culture is also
responsible of how audiences respond to presentations: the Japanese show concentration and
attentiveness by nodding the head and closing the eyes occasionally. In Germany and Austria
listeners show their approval by knocking on the table instead of applauding. In most areas of
the world applause is accepted as a form of approval while whistles in many parts of Europe
indicate disapproval. Handling questions at the end of a presentation differs across cultures:
Brits and Americans ask challenging questions; in Finland or in Asian cultures the audience
are mostly silent or ask just a few polite questions this should be taken as a sign of respect,
not as a lack of interest. Above all, the thing you should not forget when making a
presentation is that each and every member of your international audience is a fellow human
being who needs to get relevant information from what you say. And another very important
thing: effective communicators are trained, not born so a lot of practice will turn you into a
confident speaker/presenter.

P.S. Perkins (2008: 116) points out several characteristics of skilled presenters: they are
message-conscious rather than self-conscious, they acquire active listening skills, they
organize their ideas, have a knowledgeable vocabulary, they are aware of nonverbal codes
(paralanguage included), they focus on the clarity of words, have a good repertoire of

subjects they are familiar with, they are comfortable with multicultural audiences, and they
generally enjoy the process of human communication. And a last element of a successful
presentation speakers should know their audience and the occasion they are required to
speak two vital ingredients to public speaking success.

2.3. Intercultural Negotiation

2.3.1. Characteristics

As the world becomes increasingly connected, people both at home and in travels abroad,
must consider the important issue of intercultural negotiation. In a negotiating process, two or
more parties who consider they need to be jointly involved in an outcome, but who initially
have different objectives, seek by the use of arguments and persuasion to resolve their
differences in order to achieve a mutually accepted solution (see Alan Fowler 2000).
Researchers mainly identified two main types of negotiating styles: the problem-solving
approach (PSA) and the competitive approach (CA) (see Graham 1985; Mintu-Wimsatt and
Gassenheimer 2000; Vida 1999; Williams 1998). The former stresses the actions you can take
for a negotiation to be successful, the latter points to the intercultural communication skills
you should develop in order to get the desirable outcome in the negotiation process.

There are two basic rules to be considered when negotiating: 1. do not negotiate unless you
can obtain some direct or indirect advantage by doing so, and 2. a negotiator should never
give away an advantage without getting something profitable in return.

The priorities of any negotiation are: (1) To avoid taking a fixed position in an argument
because the negotiator may need to move from it and (2) The negotiators should know
exactly their goals and what range of outcomes they are prepared to accept. The negotiating
process involves three stages: the preparation (plans, issues, details), the actual negotiation
process (interaction), and the implementation of the agreement. Contribute to a successful
negotiation by using SARAH a technique that improves and eases the negotiation process:

S smile

A active listening

R repeat comments

A act with empathy

H handle the subject matter with an appreciation of the other negotiators feelings

All cultures have their own preferred styles and strategies for dealing with and managing
conflict. Yet it is quite difficult to be culture-specific when discussion how to deal effectively
with cross-cultural conflicts. Nevertheless, there are some general skills involved in cross-
cultural negotiation and conflict management that can be highlighted.
A basic requirement for effective conflict management and negotiation is to know as much as
possible about the other culture(s). Although experiential knowledge is preferable, research
of the culture, norms, values, history, society etc. can be very helpful. The most significant
feature of good cross-cultural relations, as most cross-cultural sources will indicate, involves
avoiding stereotypes. Although certain generalizations may be fairly assessed in regard to
how certain cultures deal with conflict, individual differences should always be considered as
paramount. In fact, some cultural specialists suggest that all conflicts are intercultural to an
extent, since each individual person has their own personal history and experience, their own
set of beliefs, values and assumptions, and ultimately, their own set of survival skills.
Consequently, we may say that each culture has its own distinctive negotiation style,
different negotiation behaviors which are highly dependent on the context of communication.
Therefore the distinction between high and low context cultures is relevant and operational
when it comes to approach different negotiation situations. Low context cultures (i.e. the
USA, Canada, Germany, Switzerland) use explicit, verbally expressed messages while high
context cultures (i.e. Japan, China, Brazil, Mexico, Spain, Italy, Middle Eastern Arab
countries) rely heavily on the context (background, values, position in society, associations).

The interactive part of a cross-cultural negotiation develops in two stages: 1. A non-task

related interaction (establishing rapport between the members of negotiating teams, face-to-
face interaction), and 2. A task-related interaction, concerned with the business of
negotiation. This latter stage involves an exchange of information regarding the needs and
preferences of negotiators, the use of persuasion and bargaining strategies, concession
making and a final agreement. (see Antonis C. Simintiras 1998)

The most important skills a business person needs in the negotiation process are: Persuading,
Influencing and Negotiating. These skills are presented in detail by the Careers and
employability service of the University of Kent. (see http://www.kent.ac.uk/careers/sk/persuading.htm). In
their opinion a distinction should be made between the terms:

Persuading involves being able to convince others to take appropriate action.

Negotiating involves being able to discuss and reach a mutually satisfactory agreement.
Influencing encompasses both of these.

These skills are important in many jobs, especially in areas such as marketing, sales,
advertising and buying, but are also valuable in everyday life.

Persuading skills can be important in a job interview, but the tips they provide are valuable in
negotiating settings as well. We will select here the most important of them:
Focus on the needs of the other party. Take time to listen to them carefully and find
out about their interests and expectations. What does this show? ( interest, trust,
respect ) What will this entail? (outline the benefits of your proposal in terms they
Argue your case with logic. Do careful research on your ideas and those of your
competitors (if there are any) and make sure that any claims you make can be verified.

The more hesitant language you use such as "isn't it", "you know", "um mm" and "I
mean" the less people are likely to believe your argument.

Use positive rather than negative language: instead of saying "You're wrong about
this", say "That's true, however ...", "That's an excellent idea, but if we look more
deeply ....." or "I agree with what you say but have you considered ...."

Subtly compliment the other party. For example: "I see that you've done some really
excellent research into this". Even though they may realize this is being done,
evidence shows that they will still warm to you and be more open to your proposals.

Mirroring the other person's mannerisms (e.g. hand and body movements). A study at
INSEAD Business School found that 67% of sellers who used mirroring achieved a
sale, compared to 12% who did not. People you mirror subconsciously feel more
empathy with you. However, it can be very embarrassing if the other person detects
conscious mirroring so it must be very subtle. You need to leave a delay of between
two and four seconds before the mirroring action.

Try to remember the names of everyone you meet. It shows that you are treating them
as an individual.

P.S. Perkins (2008: 144) identifies three reasons to persuade: 1. to take some type of action,
2. to change a strong attitude or belief, 3. to motivate you to maintain a certain belief or
weaken a current belief, and three ways to do it that refer to: 1. facts and reasoning (logic), 2.
speaker credibility (ethics), and 3. appealing to some basic emotion, need, want, or desire.

In negotiating you should make the difference between negotiating to win and negotiating
jointly. The former involves pursuing your own interests to the exclusion of others: I win:

you lose! and persuading someone to do what you want them to do and ignoring their
interests. It is unproductive because you might get short term gain, but you will build up long
term resentment which can be very disruptive if you ever need to work with these people
again. The latter (joint negotiation) involves coming to an agreement where everyone gets
what they want, reaching a mutually satisfactory agreement: win-win. It implies mutual trust,
based on honesty and integrity from both parties. Both sides work together to come up with a
compromise solution to suit everyone's best interests and each party tries to see things from
the other's perspective.

The basic skills you should acquire for successful negotiations are mainly connected to the
ability of being persuasive. You can reach this target by keeping the attention of others,
explaining clearly the benefits of your argument, developing coherently a line of reasoned
argument, expressing your points concisely, and understanding the concerns and needs of the
person you are dealing with. On the next level of negotiating efficiently you have to gain
support along the bargaining process. The skills that help you attain this positive attitude are:
emphasizing how costs and problems can be minimized, handling objections, challenging the
points of view expressed by others, and getting other people to support your views. Finally,
the highest and most effective level of negotiating proficiency involves the ability of
developing strategies. In order to reach this target you should develop the capacity of using a
range of approaches and strategies to gain support for ideas, of giving examples of when your
idea has been used successfully in some other context, making concessions when required to
reach agreement (that is work for a win-win situation), and last but not least, of forming long
term relationships.

All in all, among the most important intercultural negotiation skills you should give careful
consideration to the following:

Empathy, which means you should be able to see the world as other people see it and to
understand the behavior of others from their perspectives.

Ability to demonstrate advantages of what one proposes so that counterparts in the

negotiation will be willing to change their positions.

Ability to manage stress and cope with ambiguity as well as unpredictable demands.

Ability to express ones own ideas in ways that the people with whom one negotiates will be
able to objectively and fully understand the objectives and intentions at stake.

Sensitivity to the cultural background of others along with an ability to adjust ones objectives
and intentions in accordance with existing constraints and limitations.

2.3.2. The Successful Intercultural Negotiator

Successful intercultural negotiators are always aware of the fact that people do, indeed, feel,
think and behave differently, while at the same time, they are equally logical and rational.
Stated differently, competent intercultural negotiators recognize the differences between
people while simultaneously appreciating the intrinsic rationality behind such divergent
feelings thoughts and behaviors. That is to say, individuals, groups, communities,
organizations and even nation states possess diverse values, beliefs and assumptions that
make sense from their own perspective. Thus, effective intercultural negotiators are sensitive
to the fact that each person perceives, discovers, and constructs reality the internal and
external world in varied yet meaningful ways. They understand that difference is not
threatening; indeed, it is positive, so long as the differences are managed properly. If
negotiators are motivated to search for information on which to build acceptable agreements
and are flexible in how that search is conducted, cultural differences can be bridged.

Successful negotiation requires a sense of timing, creativity, keen awareness and the ability to
anticipate the other partys next move (see James R. Silkenat et all, The ABA guide to
international business negotiations). Communication and cooperation are two important
conditions for the successful outcome of a negotiation.

Intercultural Intelligence can dramatically improve your negotiation success. Negotiations

can easily get complex when you work in a multicultural environment. Globally, there are
now more than 50,000 NGOs, 60,000 Multi-National Corporations, most governments are
dealing in intercultural environments and there are now more than 200 million expats across
the globe. In order to become a successful negotiator, you should be aware of the fact that
possessing information about your counterparts culture is not enough; your individual
characteristics can influence the cross-cultural negotiation (Vida 1999; Maddox 1993) as

well. Elements like openness and sensitivity to others, cultural competence, ability to relate to
others and modify behavior according to the situation should be considered key competencies
in intercultural negotiating. In addition, you should give careful consideration to the
following tips:

study your counterpart, gather the right market intelligence, set up a meeting in a
neutral place or one that suits your counterpart, and choose your own interpreter
should you need one.
try to understand yourself and other people, identify the strengths and weaknesses
of all those involved.

try to understand what is happening below the surface.

try to differentiate the people sat around the table and to find out what is important
to them, what are their motivators and de-motivators and what are yours

Ed Brodow (2013) provides a list of top ten negotiation tips that may help you become
successful negotiators:

1. Don't be afraid to ask for what you want. He considers this negotiation consciousness that
is, successful negotiators know that everything is negotiable. A successful negotiator is
assertive which means that you should ask for what you want and refuse to take NO for an
answer. You should express your feelings without anxiety or anger and let people know what
you want in a non-threatening way. You should make the difference between being assertive
and being aggressive. You are assertive when you take care of your own interests while
maintaining respect for the interests of others. When you see to your own interests with a lack
of regard for other people's interests, you are aggressive. Being assertive is part of negotiation

2. Shut up and listen. Borrow points out that the other negotiator will tell you everything you
need to know on condition that you listen carefully. He suggests that you can become an
effective listener by allowing the other person to do most of the talking. Follow the 70/30
Rule listen 70 percent of the time, and talk only 30 percent of the time. Encourage the other
negotiator to talk by asking lots of open-ended questions questions that can't be answered
with a simple "yes" or "no."

3. Do your homework. You should gather as much relevant information prior to your
negotiation. You should consider questions such as: What are their needs? What pressures do
they feel? What options do they have? By finding answers to them, you can make accurate
decisions based on understanding the other side's situation. The more information you have
about the people with whom you are negotiating, the stronger you will be.

4. Always be willing to walk away. You should not lose your ability to say NO says Brodow
and he calls that Brodow's Law. His advice is never negotiate without options. In other
words, if you recognize that you have other options the other negotiator will sense your inner

5. Don't be in a hurry. Brodow observes that whoever is more flexible about time has the

6. Aim high and expect the best outcome. Brodow considers that successful negotiators are
optimists. If you expect more, you'll get more. Sellers should ask for more than they expect to
receive, and buyers should offer less than they are prepared to pay.

7. Focus on the other side's pressure, not yours. When you focus on your own limitations,
you miss the big picture Brodow observes. He advises the successful negotiators to ask,
"What is the pressure on the other side in this negotiation?" and states that you will feel more
powerful when you recognize the reasons for the other side to give in. He describes the
situation as it follows: Your negotiation power derives in part from the pressures on the
other person. Even if they appear nonchalant, they inevitably have worries and concerns. It's
your job to be a detective and root these out. If you discover that they are under pressure,
which they surely are, look for ways to exploit that pressure in order to achieve a better result
for yourself.

8. Show the other person how their needs will be met. Successful negotiators always look at
the situation from the other side's perspective. Instead of trying to win the negotiation, seek to
understand the other negotiator and show them ways to feel satisfied.

9. Don't give anything away without getting something in return. Unilateral concessions are
self-defeating. Whenever you give something away, get something in return.

10. Don't take the issues or the other person's behavior personally. Brodow observes that
negotiations fail because one or both of the parties get sidetracked by personal issues
unrelated to the deal at hand. Successful negotiators focus on solving the problem, which is:
How can we conclude an agreement that respects the needs of both parties?

(you will find detailed information about the art of negotiating in Ed Brodows book
Negotiation Boot Camp)

2.3.3. Cross cultural negotiation styles

The Japanese, for example, think very highly of rites, being a nation deeply influenced by the
traditional Chinese culture, especially by the Confucian ideas. In negotiations, they are
particular about an equal or near equal membership of the other bargaining group. If not, they
will either feel slighted, even insulted or have doubt in the final say of the small membership.
The Japanese also have an age-long prejudice against women. If too many business females
are in the other group, they will feel uneasy or annoyed. In their biased point of view, women
should stay at home, nursing the kids, tending to household chores and waiting on their
husbands rather than sit at the negotiation table. This male-chauvinism may be traced to the
Japanese acculturation of the Chinese feudal ethical codes, to the three cardinal guides ruler
guides subjects, father guides son, husband guide wife. Another characteristic of the Japanese
in negotiation is that they habitually dont give clear and straight forward answers. They may
keep on saying yes, yes. However, their yes doesnt mean their acceptance to the term is
offered, but rather their understanding of what is said. They keep on saying Yes only for rites
sake. Still worth mentioning there is that the Japanese have more trust in personal rapport
than in business contracts.

This presents a sharp contrast to the Americans. So when doing business with the Japanese,
you should take time and pains to establish true personal rapport and friendships. Dont count
too much on contracts, they are pieces of waste paper in the eyes of the Japanese once both
sides are at odds.

The United States is known as a melting pot with peoples from a great variety of cultures
pouring into this pot. Though the different cultures are not entirely melted in this pot, some
broad generalizations can still be drawn about Americans. Americans are looked on as rugged
individuals who are aggressive on the negotiation table and seek to stand out above the

crowd in their business affairs. They are generally considered straightforward, get-to-the-
point business people. They are frank, light-hearted, confident, and risky in their pursuit of
material gains. They value time, efficiency and laws very much. But they dont care very
much for formality, rituals, and social rules. They are impressive for their package deal
manners on the negotiation table. They are frankly expressive and like to crack jokes,
sometimes to the extent of appearing disrespectful to the other group. All these character
traits and business styles of the Americans are the natural results of a young nation, a great
variety of cultures and a universal language.

The Russians are good at playing tricks in business negotiations. They will always try to
bring down a proposed price, be it ever so low. They will try to persuade you to let off the
price for a good reputation. They like to play cat and mouse with you, saying that your rival
is proposing a much lower price and that your offer is in no way acceptable. They may even
get to their feet and turn away from the table. However, you neednt take it to heart. They will
come back, for sure. If they can get what they desire at a lower price elsewhere, they will not
waste their tongue with you.

The Arabs are a typically religious group. Most of them tend to be stubborn and stiff,
suspicious and conservative. In business negotiations, they usually take things in a leisurely
manner and are often deliberately mystifying. They are good at bargaining. When they dont
want to accept a proposed price, they simply pay no attention to it. They may even, in times
of real need, bring the negotiation to an abrupt halt or break their previous promises by the
excuse that it is the holy order of Allah. The wealthy Arab businessmen are usually friendly
and hospitable. They may rise from the negotiation table to greet a friend, which is commonly
unacceptable in many other cultures. But the Arabs think that they should be friendly to all
their guests. In Arab countries (in Japan as well) the direct negotiations are combined with
social activities. One purpose of these activities is to demonstrate hospitality, but also to
determine whether you are the sort of person with whom they want to do business.

Other countries also have their respective culture. If you want to negotiate successfully with
the members from these countries, you must show your respect to their culture. (see Huang

But it is not the national cultural patterns only to be taken into consideration when it comes to
successful international negotiations. Organizations as well have patterns of values, beliefs,

and expectations shared by the members of the organizations (Van Maanen and Schein,
1979). Consequently, we witness a phenomenon of environmental adaptation that shapes
individual behavior in interaction within the organization. These values, beliefs, and norms of
the organizations represent an invisible power, influencing activities within an organization.
Taking into account these characteristics, the organizational culture can be categorized into
bureaucratic and supportive culture. Bureaucratic cultures tend to be rule intensive, non-
innovative, non-cooperative, and slow to change. The roles and obligations of participants are
usually contractual in nature and are set out in advance. Rewards are only provided in
exchange for increases in performance by organizational members. Such organizations are
less flexible and adaptable. In contrast, supportive organizations are more flexible and
adaptable, ensuring by this attitude an efficient environment for the problem solving approach
in the process of negotiation.


1. Read about The intercultural communication challenges of skype meetings (Sherwood

Flemming, http://sherwoodfleming.com). Discuss about the efficiency of such meetings.

2. Argue pro or against the following assertions:

- When we speak our native languages we are able to multitask in our minds: we listen
easily, formulate future assertions, generate opinions etc.
- When we use a second language it is impossible to multitask in our minds: we are
distracted by the lack of understanding; we are more focused on listening

3. Comment on the following:

In business you dont get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate. (Chester L. Karass)

Let us move to the era of confrontation to the era of negotiation. (Richard M. Nixon)

If you are planning on doing business with someone again, dont be too tough in the
negotiations. If you are going to skin a cat, dont keep it as a house cat. (Marvin S. Levin)

My father said: You must never try to make all the money thats in a deal. Let the other
fellow make some money too, because if you have a reputation for always making all the
money, you wont have many deals. (J. Paul Getty)

We dont point a pistol at our own forehead. That is not the way to conduct negotiations.
(Benjamin Netanyahu)

Any negotiation has a limit. Otherwise, war is irrelevant. (Toba Beta)

The single and most dangerous word to be spoken in business is no. The second most
dangerous word is yes. It is possible to avoid saying either. (Lois Wyse)

He who has learned to disagree without being disagreeable has discovered the most valuable
secret of a diplomat. (Robert Estabrook)

Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate. (John F. Kennedy)

During a negotiation, it would be wise not to take anything personally. If you leave
personalities out of it, you will be able to see opportunities more objectively. (Brian Koslow)

Negotiating means getting the best of your opponent. (Gaye Marvin)

Quotes by Ed Brodow:

If you don't ask for what you want, don't expect God, Uncle Sam, or the Tooth Fairy to do it
for you.

There's an old adage: 'Once you ask for something, be quiet. The next one who talks loses.'
Odds are, they'll fill the uncomfortable silence you've created with some concessions.

Negotiation is the process of overcoming obstacles in order to reach agreement. The obstacles
are your position and my position.

Satisfaction is the key element in every successful negotiation. Satisfaction means that you
get what you need, not necessarily what you want.

People are more likely to do what you want them to when given the opportunity to talk about

"If you can train yourself to keep your mouth shut most of the time, its easy to be a great
listener, and a great negotiator.

Always be willing to walk away. Dont place yourself in a position where you accept a less
than satisfactory outcome, just to close a deal.

4.Cultural differences and negotiating behavior go hand in hand. Try to understand your
negotiation counterpart better by answering these questions:

1. What is your negotiation goal a contract or a relationship?

The purpose of a negotiation is seen differently around the world. This can be a signed
contract between the parties or the creation of a relationship between the two sides.

2. What negotiation attitude fits you: win-lose or win-win? Do you see

negotiation as a struggle?

Win-win negotiators see deal-making as a collaborative, problem-solving process. Win-lose

negotiators view it as confrontational.

3. What style do you prefer when negotiating: informal or formal? How do you
prefer to address your counterparts? Do you use anecdotes?

It is always safer to adopt a formal posture and move to an informal stance.

4. Do you prefer direct or indirect communication? Do you expect a clear and

definite response to your proposals and questions? Do you pay attention to
gestures, vague comments, other signs that may.. Do you interpret
directness as aggressiveness? Do you view indirectness as a sign of
5. Sensitivity to time high or low? How much time do you devote to reach the
goal of your negotiation? Do you agree that time is money and try to rush it?

6. Emotionalism high or low? Do you show your emotions at the negotiating
table? Display of emotions.

7. What kind of agreement are you in favor with: general or specific? A detailed
contract (see the Americans) or a general principles (Chinese model) contract?

8. What about the building of an agreement: bottom up or top down? Does it start

from an agreement on general principles and proceed to specific items, or does it begin with
an agreement on specifics, such as price, delivery date, and product quality, the sum total of
which becomes the contract. French prefer to begin with agreement on general principles,
while Americans tend to seek agreement first on specifics. For Americans, negotiating a deal
is basically making a series of compromises and trade-offs on a long list of particulars. For
the French, the essence is to agree on basic principles that will guide and indeed determine
the negotiation process afterward.

9.Team organization: One leader or group consensus? In any negotiation, it is

important to know how the other side is organized, who has the authority to make
commitments, and how decisions are made. One extreme is the negotiating team
with a supreme leader who has complete authority to decide all matters. Many
American teams tend to follow this approach. Other cultures, notably the Japanese
and the Chinese, stress team negotiation and consensus decision making.

10. Risk taking: high or low? Are you willing to o take risks-- to divulge
information, try new approaches, and tolerate uncertainties in a proposed course
of action? (the Japanese are risk-averse, the Americans are risk takers)

5.When negotiating inter-culturally your aim should be to identify specific negotiating traits
affected by culture and to forecast the possible variation that each trait or factor may take.
With this knowledge, you may be better able to understand the negotiating styles and
approaches of counterparts from other cultures. Equally important, it may help you to
determine how your own negotiating style appears to those same counterparts. Based on
your work experience, can you name any specific negotiating traits affected by your

6. Individual attributes associated with international negotiating include such skills as:
cognitive flexibility, adaptability, tolerance for ambiguity, positive self-image, outgoingness,
extroversion, non-ethnocentrism, cultural sensitivity, and intercultural competence (Zakaria,
2000). These skills are partly inherent but partly learned skills. Can you place the above-
mentioned skills in the two categories? Can you add some other skills to the list?

7.A strategy for successful negotiations is suggested bellow. Discuss it and try to improve it
taking into account your work experience.
Listen carefully to the arguments of the other party and assess the logic of their
Clarify issues you are not clear about by asking how, why, where, when and what

List all the issues which are important to both sides and identify the key issues.
Identify any personal agendas. Question generalisations and challenge assumptions.

Identify any areas of common ground.

Understand any outside forces that may be affecting the problem.

Keep calm and use assertive rather than aggressive behaviour. Use tact and diplomacy
to diffuse tensions.

Remember: NO is a little word with big power!

Use both verbal and non-verbal persuasion skills. Use open, encouraging body
language such as mirroring, not defensive or closed.

Know when to compromise. Offer concessions where necessary, but minor ones at
first. Distinguish between needs: important points on which you can't compromise
and interests where you can concede ground.

Allow the other party to save face if necessary via small concessions.

Make sure there is an agreed deadline for resolution

Decide on a course of action and come to an agreement.

The final agreement needs to be summarised and written down at the conclusion of
the negotiations.

Plan for alternative outcomes if you can't reach agreement.

8.What are the most common areas of misunderstandings in negotiations between a

Western and an Oriental culture? Can you add to the list below?

- Time is money/time is flexible

- Get-down-to-business attitude/ get-to-know-your-business-partner attitude
- Being direct/being polite, diplomatic and indirect

9.Go to the following internet link: http://leadershipcrossroads.com/negintbiz.htm. You will

find information about Negotiating International Business by Lothar Katz. You will have free
access to a comprehensive reference guide for international negotiation with many countries
around the world. By reading it, you will find answers to questions like:

How is negotiating internationally different from doing it back home? How do I start right?
What will make me effective in a specific country? Which negotiation techniques can I use
and which ones should I avoid? How do I effectively build relationships with my foreign
counterparts? How much after-work socializing is expected and even necessary? What is
expected of females?

Write an essay in which you address all the questions above.

10.Choose a country, imagine you have to prepare a meeting and initiate negotiations with
a potential business partner from that country. How would you behave? What will be the
differences you should pay special attention to?


1.Read Intercultural communication: Business negotiation in Romania by Irina Budrina.
You will find the article on http://www.romania-insider.com/
Do you agree/disagree with the profile of the Romanian business person framed by the

2.Case study

The Panama Canal Negotiations (http://www.negotiations.com/case/canal-route/)

This case study reveals how different negotiation tactics can be employed to negotiate and
conclude a better international agreement. Identify the negotiating tactics and discuss their

The completion of the Panama Canal is one of the worlds great engineering feats. The
negotiations to complete and build this vital connector between two oceans spans decades.
The cost in human lives, suffering, and capital staggers the imagination. It all began in 1847
when the United States entered in a treaty with New Granada (later to be known as
Colombia), and which allowed the U.S. a transit passage over the Isthmus of Panama. The
treaty guaranteed Panamas neutrality and recognized that Colombia would have sovereignty
over the region.

Nothing really occurred with this development and ultimately, a French company called the
Compagnie Nouvelle du Canal de Panama acquired the contract to build the canal in 1881.
By 1889, the Compagnie had gone bankrupt and had lost roughly around $287 million U.S.
along with approximately 20,000 lives in the process. It is also in 1889 that the U.S. has
become convinced that the canal passage was absolutely vital to their interests. They
appointed Rear Admiral John Walker to head the Commission and to choose the most viable

Naturally, the U.S. was interested in the Panama route already started by the French. The
French company which had been heading for bankruptcy, and seeing the writing on the wall
before their bankruptcy in 1889, had entered into negotiations with the U.S. The French
company was eager to extricate themselves from the project. At the time, their holdings were
extensive and included land, the Panama Railroad, 2,000 buildings, and an extensive amount

of equipment. They felt their total holdings should be valued around 109 million U.S., but
Rear Admiral Walker estimated them to be not greater than about 40 million U.S., a
significant difference.

As negotiations progressed, the Americans began to hint that they were also interested in the
possibility of building an alternative canal in Nicaragua. The French countered with the ploy
by claiming that both Great Britain and Russia were looking at picking up the financing to
complete the canals construction. It was subsequently leaked to the U.S. press, much to the
French companys pique, that the Walker Commission concluded that the cost to buy out the
French company was too excessive and recommended the Nicaraguan route.

A couple days later after this news, the president of Compagnie Nouvelle resigned. The
resulting furore caused the stockholders to demand that the company be sold to the U.S. at
any price they could get. The Americans became aware that they could now pick up all the
French holdings for 40 million dollars. However, the Walker Commission had not just been a
ploy by the Americans because the Nicaraguan route was actually a serious proposal that had
a lot of backing in the U.S. Senate. President Roosevelt had to engage in some serious
political manoeuvrings to get everybody on board of the Panama passage. The Walker
Commission changed its recommendation to favour Panama as the canal route.

But the story doesnt end there. Next, the U.S. signed a new treaty with Colombias charge
daffairs which gave the U.S. a six mile area across the Isthmus and agreed to financial
remuneration that was to be paid to Colombia. The Colombian charge daffairs had signed the
treaty without communicating with his government. The treaty was rejected by Colombia. In
the meantime, revolution against Colombian authority was afoot in Panama. Since they
believed they had signed a legitimate treaty, Roosevelt sent warships to the area to negate the
Colombians, and thus secured U.S. interests, and offered aid to the Panamanians in their
quest to separate from Colombia. Panama succeeded in their revolt and became a republic. In
1914, the Panama Canal was opened. (available on http://www.negotiations.com/case/canal-

(see http://www.negotiations.com/case/canal-route/ This page's contents may be re-published

in full or part - we ask only that you include an honest html link back to this site, preferably
to our negotiation skills training page.)


Brodow, Ed. (2013). Ten Tips for Negotiating in 2013, available on

Chaisrakeo, Sunanta, Mark Speece. (2004). Culture, intercultural communication
competence, and sales negotiation: a qualitative research approach, in The Journal of
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Christopher, Elizabeth M.(1996). Negotiating Skills for Business, Kogan Page Ltd.
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David A. Victor. Cross-cultural / International Communication. [Online] Available:

Fowler, Alan. (2000). Negotiating Skills and Strategies, Beekman Books inc.

Girard, Lisa. (2012). 7 Deadly Sins of Business Meetings http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/224151

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Perkins, P. S. (2008). The Art and Science of Communication. Tools for Effective
Communication in the Workplace, Hoboken, New Jersey:John Wiley&Sons, Inc.

Salacuse, Jeswald. (2005). Negotiating: The top ten ways that culture can affect your
negotiation, in Ivey Business Journal Online, Mar/Apr 2005, 1.

Schuler, A. J. (2003). Cross cultural communication, in http://www.schulersolutions.com

Silkenat, James R. Jeffrey M. Aresty, Jacqueline Klosek (2009) The ABA guide to
international business negotiations, American Bar Association.
Simintiras, Antonis C., Andrew H. Thomas. (1998). Cross-cultural sales negotiation,
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Sinha, Rana. Intercultural Factors when Making International Presentations,


The Art of Negotiating: Psychological Strategies for Gaining Advantageous Bargains.

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Williams, M. R. (1998). The influence of salespersons customer orientation on buyer-seller

relationship development, The Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing, Vol.
13, No. 3, pp.271-287.

Wyborn, John, David D. Martin. (1998) One Stop Negotiation, ICSA Publishing Ltd.

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global workforce, in International Journal of Manpower, vol. 21, No. 6, pp. 492-


Upon completion of this chapter, you will
- understand the role of ethics in intercultural business communication
- understand such terms as communication ethics, engagement
- distinguish/ differentiate between ethics, morality, altruism


What is ethics?

Can we apply the same ethical dimensions or framework to all cultures, or each culture
has its own standard?

What is altruism (as a possible motive for engagement)?

What are political and civic engagement? What seems to be the main difference between


As the occasions for ambiguity in moral reasoning and moral responsibility multiply in a
culturally diverse but highly interconnected and interdependent global environment, ethics is
a subject which confronts communication scholarship at a variety of levels of interactional
analysis. Current communication research on the subject is confined, though, almost
exclusively to international business interactions, particularly to those of transnational
corporations (TNCs). For example, there is relatively little research that directly addresses the
ethics of diplomacy and negotiation in contemporary global interactional processes.

Martin et al. (2002: 363) define ethics as the same as morals, or considerations of what is
considered right and wrong. (Hall, 2005: 334) defines ethics as the moral standards by
which actions may be judged good or bad, right or wrong. Johannesen, one of the leading
writers in the field of communication ethics, contends that, more than cultural values - or
what is important to a culture - such as individualism/collectivism, ethical judgments are

more about degrees of rightness and wrongness in human behavior (in Martin et al., 2002:
363). We will make the distinction that morality refers to the right or wrong of any behavior
in and of itself. As a subset of morality, ethics deals with rightness and wrongness
specifically in our interaction with others.

All of us make decisions about what is right and wrong every day of our lives. Do I cheat on
the exam? Do I return the $5 bill I found in the parking lot of the gas station? Do I copy my
friends CD instead of buying my own? If he asks me if he looks fat in that shirt, and he
really does, do I tell him so? Do I cast a vote on the Internet survey for my friends or
students video, even if its really not the best of the videos in the competition, just so my
friend might win the contest?

And, of course, there are more weighty ethical issues! If I see racism occur, do I confront it,
or do I remain silent? Do I lie for my company? Do I sell research and ideas that I know may
not be based in fact or that, if sold, might work against some population?

All of us are guided by some ethical principles, even if we are not aware of them. The
problem is, if we have not really thought about what ethics guide us, are we really guided by
the best principle?

Perhaps one of the biggest debates in the field of intercultural communication is whether we
can apply the same ethical dimensions or framework to all cultures, or whether each culture
has its own standard. The latter view, that each culture determines for itself what is right and
wrong, was held by most anthropologists and inter-culturalists for a long time, and still held
by many (e.g., Shuter, 2003).

There are two main approaches in discussing ethics within the cultural context:

Cultural relativism: Each culture determines on its own what is right or wrong.

Meta-ethic: There is some overarching ethical ideal or system that can be applied to all

The choice between these is not as easy as it first seems. In a postmodern, multicultural
world, we want to say every culture should adopt its own ethical stance. But this raises
questions about practices that are held by cultures at different times in history, like:

Human sacrifice, even if the sacrifice is willing
Slavery, even if those enslaved feel that it is right that they be enslaved or be serfs
of some royalty

Wife-burning, where widows willingly throw themselves on their husbands funeral


Oppression of women in terms of denial of education, or forcing to wear veils, etc.

Of course, as the last instance shows, these issues are often difficult. In many cases, human
rights activists come to countries to enlighten them only to find that the women feel
protected and fully accept as right for them the cultural standards others want to change!

John R. Baldwin (2013) in Ethics: Can we determine right and wrong across cultures? Social
Action and Civic Engagement: Can we make a difference? considers the following scenarios,
based on the discussions of specialists in the field:

A. There is NOT a universal ethic

In his article Ethics, culture, and communication: An intercultural perspective Robert Shuter
(2003: 453-454) argues that there is no easy answer for ethical questions and that we need to
re-evaluate how we even treat ethics in intercultural communication: Because an intra-
cultural [within-culture study of a single culture] analysis uncovers deep structures in a
society and its communication, it obviates easy cultural answers such as those traditionally
offered about intercultural ethics: Be empathetic, understand that people are different - such
values vary from society to society, ad infinitum. In truth, one could attempt to follow all of
these intercultural caveats and still reject the ethical principles that regulate a societys
communication and its relationships.

That is, in contrast to most intercultural scholars today, Shuter believes that each culture
determines its own ethics for everyday. He centers his essay around different types of ethics:

Communicator ethics: That which contributes to the well-being of others, to their

happiness and fulfillment as human beings (Nilsen, in Shuter, p. 449)
Message ethics: The right or wrong of communication behaviors (aspects of the

Receiver/audience ethics: What ethical guidelines guide those who receive the

His main argument is that the Western, Judeo-Christian ethics emphasizes free choice, with
humans at the center of the world. Honesty, truthfulness, and giving choice to others are
privileged. However, other ethical systems, such as Hindu and Confucian systems focus on
harmony over honesty in many instances. His point is that we should consider each culture in
its own right to determine what communication is ethical.

B. There is a universal ethicbut what is it?

The first approach is that there is some ethical principle that can be found to guide behavior
across cultures. This is the sort of idea that guides the Geneva Convention standards on
appropriate warfare, Human Rights groups (and nations) who work across national and
cultural borders, and so on. Some writers look across cultures to try to find the similarities
between them all (for example, most cultures have an ethic against unwarranted killing,
though cultures may differ on what warrants a killing. For many cultures and countries, one
of the highest forms of human rights violation is the U.S. use of the death penalty).
Interestingly, most intercultural scholars today believe or write as if there is some universal
guideline for ethics. Few would state that anything a culture does (like human sacrifice or
slavery) is equally right as any other behavior. The question is what is the universal guideline
and who gets to determine it?

2. Classical approaches to ethics - The Five Goldens

Hall (2005) presents five golden approaches, (see Hall from E. Griffins A First Look at
Communication Theories).

(1)The golden purse (ethical egoism): As it sounds (ego for I), this approach is based
on what works best for me or my group (organization, country, etc.). This approach considers
a weighing of the advantages and disadvantages of a decision and choosing what is best for
me. The statement in Hall, the one who has the gold makes the rules is true in many cases.

(2)The golden consequence (utilitarianism): If something has utility that means it is
useful or pragmatic. Here is a question which may help you learn this approach - what
works? The difference between this and egoism is that this approach is focused on what
works for the most people involved. That is, it seeks the greatest good for the greatest
number of people. One might lie, assassinate someone, even drop a Hydrogen bomb on a
city, if it is felt that this will benefit more people in the long run (this was the principle used
to justify the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in WWII). What benefits people in one
situation may not benefit people in another situation, so things are contextually right or

(3)The golden law (categorical imperative/divine right): This approach suggests that there
is a single right or wrong that does not differ by context or situation. Emanuel Kant
believed that something was either right or wrong (one of two categories), and that we must
do what we know to be right (imperative). We determine what is right through the use of
logic, for example, the logical question our parents asked us, What if everybody behaved
this way? Augustine, an early Christian, believed also that there was a single right or wrong,
but that it was determined through the scriptures rather than through logic (divine right).
Thus, both believe in a golden law, but for different reasons.

(4)The golden rule: Also originally based in religious philosophy, the Golden Rule states, do
unto others as you would have them do unto you. Interestingly, this is a rule or principle that
appears in many religions. The platinum rule might go a step further in both interpersonal
relationships and in intercultural communication! Rather than treating others as you want to
be treated, treat them as you think they would want to be treated.

(5)The golden mean: Finally, Aristotle believed that the best choices lie between extremes
in any situation, and that extremes should be avoided. The golden mean refers to the
average or mean between extreme behaviors.

If a universal ethic can be determined (a single ethical system that might apply to all
cultures), it will likely come from either studying all cultures to find out principles they have
in common, from logic, from dialogue, or from external standard to which all people can

2.Ethics and worldviews

Ninian Smart in his book Worldviews: Crosscultural Explorations of Human Beliefs,
compares different religious ethics. His discussion is useful when we talk about world views.
His main point is that we cannot divorce a view of ethics from (religious) world views.

How are ethical systems, such as we have described above (e.g., utilitarianism) related to
specific views of the world (e.g., scientific humanism)? One of the questions at the end of
the chapter suggests that Smart believes that ethics based only on humanistic and not
religious principles will be insufficient.

Martin et al. (2002) offer their own three principles for ethical communication.

(1). The Humaneness Principle: deals with treating others as humans, that is, with respect
as persons. Embedded in this are various other principles that would deal with treating others
humanely, such as peace, honesty/accuracy, recognizing uniqueness of other groups, and
empathy. This principle, as stated in this text, combines ideas from two different perspectives
- the humaneness principle (e.g., Hatch), and the peace principle (e.g., Kale). By Hatchs
view of the humaneness principle, it would be unethical to cause or allow human suffering.
Thus, to see suffering and not do anything to address it, be that poverty, racism, sexism, or
some other suffering, would in fact be unethical.

(2). The Dialogic Principle: the core of this principle is human relationship and, in relation
to this, interaction with others (dialogue). It regards gaining an understanding of the
perspective of the other before making any ethical decision - relational empathy, caring for
others. Guidelines for this principle include for example, authenticity, inclusion,
presentness, a spirit of mutual equality, and a supportive climate (Martin et al., 2002: 365).
Milton Bennett, for example, suggests the platinum rule, Do unto others as they themselves
would have done unto them (in Martin et al., 2002: 366). Power is a problem, because
groups with higher power in a situation often lead people not to want to, or need to,
understand the other persons perspective; or people in the dominant group might perceive
theirs to be equality in ability to dialogue, while people in the minority group may not
perceive the same freedom. The point here is to understand others perspective from their
point of view, from their power position, and from their contextual perspective. This can
only happen through dialogue with them.

(3). The Principle of speaking with and to: This principle seems very similar to the
dialogic principle just above. The main point here is for scholars who write about other
cultures: Scholars must not simply represent others, but must speak with them, to be
critical (in the sense of carefully evaluating their perspective, not necessarily in the sense of
critical theory) about what they write, realizing their own role in their writing. Specific
guidelines deal with self-reflexivity, listening, and dialogue. The last two principles, as you
see, could not be distinguished from the dialogic principle. Perhaps what this perspective
adds is the notion just to treat our representation of other cultures and perspectives critically.

3. Civic and Political Engagement

How we relate to others also involves the very practice of our profession and education.
Some have argued that in the United States, they are moving away from involvement with
others, bowling alone, in the words of Robert Putnam (2000), or engaging in a heightened
individualism that works against social involvement and social capital (Bellah et al., 1985).
Recently, universities have turned or returned to the goal of educating students not only to be
successful in their careers, but to be citizens engaged with the world around them. We might
even consider such engagement to be ethically responsible or imperative.

What are some specific behaviors one could engage in for political or civic engagement,
especially as these relate to culture, difference, intolerance, etc?


1.Be able to recognize the main statement of these ethical stances: ethical egoism,
utilitarianism, divine right, categorical imperative, cultural relativism, golden mean

2. What is a communicative approach? Dialogic approach? Humaneness principle?

3. What are some stances that guide your ethical stance?

4. Smart believes that ethics based only on humanistic and not religious principles will be
insufficient. What do you think?

5. Can you tell the main difference between the three principles of ethical communication
presented by Martin et al. (2002)?


1.Look at some of the specific religious systems. Take notes on some key ideas. How might
the religious systems (e.g., Theravedic Buddhism, Islam, Christianity) impact how people
who follow those religions see what is right and wrong in human interaction?

2. Describe an ethical dilemma in which you have been involved (preferably make it an
intercultural or interethnic dilemma).

3. Watch a movie from India, East Asia (e.g., Korea), or the Middle East that has an ethical
dilemma in it. To what degree do you see the different ethical stances discussed by Smart
played out?

4. Look on-line for an intercultural ethical issue. This could be an issue faced by intercultural
travelers (like, should I offer a bribe to the police officer to not give me a ticket, since this is
what is generally understood in this culture?) to an ethical issue that straddles international
borders (such as a human rights issue or the rights or responsibilities of one government or
organization to intervene in the human rights of another culture). Approach it from the 5
golden stances; choose your own stance and describe which of the above, if any, influence
you (are you a cultural relativist or a universalist?)

5. After working through this course and thinking about these ideas, what could you, as a
person, do to make this world a better place in terms of intercultural and intergroup
communication? How might you incorporate the concepts of empathy, or even implicature
into your own life, concretely and practically?


Intercultural Communication

Case #1: Intercultural Sales and Marketing
Your group consists of an intercultural communication firm that specializes in both
intercultural training and research. Nestl Corporation, an international food conglomerate,
has hired your group to supervise research in Africa, Asia, and South America. Your goal is to
design research to uncover the values and appropriate and credible communication behaviors
in different cultures. The corporation will use this information to develop media and
interpersonal sales strategies to use in the marketing of infant formula in these nations. What
will you do? What ethical choices will guide your decision?

Case #2: Intercultural Media Production

You have landed a job with a very prominent world health organization. The agency is
currently seeking a wide financial support base in the United States and Europe to fund
efforts to reduce starvation. You have visited the area that your company works in, and you
know that many people struggle with daily nutritional and housing needs. However, the
people in their country tend to keep their housing areas and their children neat and clean. You
find an extreme case that looks much more like abject poverty than the average home in the
area for which you are raising funds. You must prepare advertising copy with photos. What
will you do? What ethical choices will guide your decision?

Case #3: Intercultural Research:

This case is based on a real-life study presented by some scholars at the 1994 Speech
Communication Association national conference (including a principle writer of intercultural
textbooks). Let's say that as a researcher, you are invited by a maquiladora (foreign-owned
plant in Mexico) to do a value study of the Mexican workers and the German and American
managers. You come to understand that the research is primarily for the purposes of the
managers in developing personnel relations practices and strategies with the employees.
Should you do the research? What are the bounds of what you will or will not do? What
ethical principles guide you as you do your work?

Case #4: Intergroup Research:

You are interested in studying a religious group that you feel promotes a view that is
unhealthy, weird, or strange (this could be a group that advocates that gays and lesbians give
up homosexuality through reparative therapy, or it could be a Zen Buddhist group that

seeks to convert individuals, or it could be a Central Illinois neo-Nazi group that recruits
women and children, or any other context you may have in mind). You want to research the
group to uncover how its practices really work against the group and may be harmful to
society at large. You decide to go undercover to do research as a participant observer
Should you do the research? What are the bounds of what you will or will not do? What
ethical principles guide you as you do your work?

Case #5: Everyday Communication: Media Use

You find that you really like international music. A friend tells you that he has found a great
source to get pirated international music on-line. You know you could go through Amazon or
the local record distributor to find the latest CD from .. But you also know that
international copyright police will never find you if you copy a CD off the Internet or burn
one from one that a friend has lent you. What will you do? What ethical choices will guide
your decision?

Case #6: Read about Four Principles in Ethical & Intercultural Communication by Asha
Kalyani, eHow Contributor, and discuss it.

You must try to understand other cultures to experience ethical and intercultural

The Business Dictionary defines ethical standards as "Principles that when followed, promote
values such as trust, good behavior, fairness, and/or kindness." In order to establish good
communication with people of other cultures, it is essential to understand their ethical
framework. In order to learn ethical intercultural communication, you must expect people of
other cultures to think differently, be willing to learn culturally appropriate behavior and (at
least to some extent) practice what their cultures consider ethical.

1. Expect Differences
o Ethical principles are not the same across cultures. Rather, ethics are culturally
informed. "The right thing to do" is not just instinctive in humans. Many
aspects of what is "good" are taught (consciously and subconsciously) by a
person's culture. So, if you want to establish ethical intercultural
communication with people of another background, prepare yourself to see the

world differently. Do not expect that what seems good to you will also seem
good to them; understand that they may view some things as bad that you view
as fine or good. For example, while American culture teaches that
individuality is a good thing and that "standing on your own two feet" is a
position you should strive for, many other cultures value the group more than
the individual. For example, in most African cultures, being part of a strong
family support system is considered much more important and valuable than
standing alone as an individual.

Exemplify the Universal

o Although different cultures will have varying expectations and standards as to

what is ethical, there are some ethical standards that are universal. So, by
striving to abide by ethical standards that are universally received, you can
take the first step in communicating and connecting well with people of
another culture. According to William Howell in his Ethics of Intercultural
Communication, "Two principles that are universal are that no action is ethical
if it harms persons, and the action that benefits persons accumulates ethical
quality." Act in such a way that you do not intentionally bring harm to anyone,
and always keep others' best interests in mind.

Learn their Culture

o To really communicate well interculturally, you must ask the question: "What
makes a 'good' person in your culture?" Talk with people in the target culture
to discover the traits of an ethical person. What attitudes and actions does a
good person possess? Does a good person set aside his personal work to take
care of his parents when they are elderly? Does a good person control his
anger at all times? Does a good person practice abstinence in certain areas?
You will find, as you look into someone else's culture, that the things that
make a "good" person in your culture are not the same things that comprise a
"good" person in every culture.

Empathize Through Action

o As you learn the ways of another culture, the best way to establish good
intercultural communication is to act in a way that is considered ethical in that
culture. Do and say the things that will express that you have the best interest
of those around you in mind. Enjoy the food people prepare for you. If there
are certain respectful gestures associated with greeting people older or more
prestigious than yourself (or everyone), use them. Learn at least enough of the
language to greet people and ask how they are doing in their native tongue.
Wear clothing that is culturally appropriate. Respect family organization and
methods of doing education and business. On every level of life and society,
share in the way people think and act as much as you are able to. This
willingness to adopt the standards of another culture is the best way to
establish ethical and intercultural communication.

Read more: http://www.ehow.com/info_8517417_four-principles-ethical-intercultural-



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Putnam, R. D. (2000). Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American community. New
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