Differences between Communication in various Cultures
The cultural aspect is core to communication, as it affects most elements of communication. These include how loudly to talk to people, the personal space while communication, how to show respect and politeness during communication, when to laugh, among others. Therefore, the way different communities communicate either verbally or non-verbally is wholly dependent on their cultures and socialization in the community. This paper therefore, focuses on the differences in both verbal and non-verbal communication between different cultures, basing on examples.
Non-verbal communication, same as body language, is a crucial part of communication, which highly varies between cultures. This includes how people use touch, gestures, and eye contact when communicating. This varies depending on the type of culture. Use of gestures varies in different cultures. For instance, the use of fingers or hands to mean, “Come here,” is used differently. In the United States, most people use this gesture while communicating with other people, but this might appear offensive in some cultures. In other cultures, this gesture is used to beckon dogs or other domestic animals. Additionally, while it is acceptable to point at people or at things with one finger in the United States, in other cultures, including the Asian cultures, find this offensive. Instead, these prefer pointing at things using the entire hand (Samovar, Porter and McDaniel 32).
Touch is another form of non-verbal communication, which also differs in different communities. In the United States, a person might show affection or friendliness to a child by patting them on the head. In most Asian cultures, this is overly inappropriate. Most Asians hold the belief that, the head is a sacred part of the body, and therefore, should not be touched. In most cultures of the Middle East region, the left hand should not be used for touch, as it should remain hygienic. On the other hand, cultures that are Islam-oriented prohibit touch between two people of the opposite sex, during communication.
Eye contact during communication is perceived differently by different cultures. In the United States, eye contact is encouraged, as it shows that one is attentive and honest during communication. However, in most cultures, such as, the Native American, Vietnamese, Hispanic, African, Asian, among others, eye contact is highly discouraged, as it signifies rudeness. In these cultures also, women maintaining eye contact when addressing men are thought to have sexual interest in the men, therefore, this is discouraged (Samovar, Porter and McDaniel 39).
In verbal communication, aspects such as volume of voice, power of words, and interruptions, among others, differ significantly in different cultures. With regard to the volume of one’s voice during communication, the people in Japan and Canada are known to maintain low volumes during normal communication. These and other cultures that embrace low voice volume, believe that raising of voice during communication shows one is angry, or quarrelling. On the other hand, people in Latin America are used to speaking with each other in loud voices, even though they are not quarrelling (Samovar, Porter and McDaniel 42).
Interruptions during communication are acceptable in some cultures and unacceptable in others. In the Anglo-Saxon countries, it is wrong to interrupt a person while they are talking; instead, one has to wait for their turn in order to speak. Interrupting is considered rude. On the contrast, in Latin America, interrupting a person as they speak is allowed. It is not considered rude, but it is expected. In most Asian cultures, after a person is done speaking, the other one has to pause before responding (Samovar, Porter and McDaniel 55).
With regard to power of words, different cultures define differently the same words. Therefore, a word used to mean good in one culture, might be hurtful in another culture. Therefore, each culture determines painful and soothing words differently. In addition, the use of titles while addressing people varies between cultures. In cultures where people value titles, addressing a person using the wrong title might be offensive to them.
In conclusion, communication is dependent on culture, thus the differences between communications in different cultures. This is an aspect, which makes it challenging for a person to adapt fast to a new community, with different culture. However, spending a considerable time in the new community makes a person adapt gradually to the new communication style. Although communication varies in different cultures, it best suits the particular community, and fulfils their communication needs.
Samovar, Larry, Porter, Richard and McDaniel, Edwin. Communication Between Cultures. New
York: Cengage Learning, 2007.
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