|NONVERBAL COMMUNICATION||COMMUNICATION STYLES||
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PERSONAL SPACE (proxemics)
The comfort zone for physical distance between people varies.
Example: The comfort zone for Latinos tends to be closer than North Americans.
The meaning of gestures may vary.
Example: The OK gesture in the U.S. (thumb and index finger form a circle) is obscene in Brazil.
GESTURES ACCOMPANYING SPEECH (illustrators)
Different nationalities have their own style of gestures accompanying speech.
Example: In general, North Americans employ fewer gestures than Italians.
EMOTIONAL EXPRESSION (affect displays)
The extent and circumstances under which emotional expression is acceptable varies.
Example: Emotional outbursts are much less acceptable in China than the U.S.
PAYING ATTENTION INDICATORS (regulators)
These include head nodding, throat clearing, and eye focus on the speaker.
Example: Head nodding in Japan may not signify agreement but may mean, "Yes. I understand what you are saying."
Standards for acceptable dress, and the extent of fashion consciousness vary.
Example: Italy is a more fashion conscious society than the U.S.
EYE CONTACT (oculesics)
The intensity and extent of eye contact varies. Example: Cambodians tend to maintain less eye contact than North Americans. The intensity of eye contact of French and Arabs tends to be much greater than North Americans.
TOUCHING BEHAVIOR (haptics)
The extent to which touching is acceptable varies.
Example: Latinos and Italians tend to touch more than North Americans (who tend to touch more than Chinese).
VOLUME OF VOICE (vocal qualifiers)
Acceptable speaking volume varies.
Example: Chinese speaking volume tends to be softer than North American.
The extent to which societies mask smell varies.
Example: U.S. society, to a much greater extent than others, employs widespread use of deodorants and mouthwashes; baths and showers are taken daily.
CONTROLLED BY / HARMONY / CONTROL
The extent to which societies appreciate what lies beyond control, working with what already exists, and taking control of your own destiny, varies.
Example: Generally, the U.S. is a highly optimistic "can do" society. A U.S. motto is "where there's a will there's a way." Other societies may feel they lack quite this much control over events.
INNER DEVELOPMENT / RELATIONSHIPS / PRODUCTIVITY
One's primary sense of self ranges from viewing yourself philosophically, in relation to others, or to your role as a producer.
Example: Three responses to "Who are you?"
"I'm the VP of Marketing."
"I'm Uncle Lin."
"I'm a humanist."
ELDERS / YOUTH
The extent to which youth and youthfulness is valued varies.
Example: Asian companies may not have much confidence in young, high level U.S. executives.
WOMEN / MEN
The extent and form of equality between men and women varies.
Example: During Operation Desert Storm U.S. female soldiers were not permitted to drive vehicles in Saudi Arabia. Women have held the highest political office in the U.K., Sri Lanka, and India but not the U.S.
HIGH CONTEXT / LOW CONTEXT
The extent to which meaning is mostly communicated through words varies.
Example: Chinese, and other high context societies, employ silence and context (as well as words) to convey meaning.
INDIRECT / DIRECT
The extent to which directness is valued varies.
Example: While the U.S. tends to value directness, Chinese, due to considerations of face (a person's feelings), tend to be more circumspect in conveying some messages.
EXPRESSIVE / INSTRUMENTAL
The extent to which communication is task oriented varies.
Example: U.S. workplace communication is strongly task oriented. In Italy, workplace communication is also task oriented but has a stronger relationship building component.
DEDUCTIVE / INDUCTIVE
The extent to which problems are approached with an emphasis on using mental processes to arrive at solutions varies.
Example: French problem solving tends to place a strong emphasis on using thought (logic, theoretical principles) over a U.S. style which tends to stress more fact gathering and experimentation.
SYSTEMATIC / LINEAL
The extent to which problem solving is holistic varies.
Example: The general U.S. style is to first break problems down to their smallest parts and then solve for each part. Chinese style tends to place greater emphasis on a consideration of the interrelationship of the different components of the problem.
SCHEDULES ARE LESS IMPORTANT / MORE IMPORTANT
The extent to which staying on schedule is valued varies.
Example: The U.S. strongly values staying on schedule. A contrast style is Italy where relationship building and other factors may have a higher priority.
MANY THINGS AT ONCE / ONE THING AT A TIME
The parceling of time for work tasks varies.
Example: Work meetings in Latin America may be very free form with many different conversations going on at the same time. The U.S. style tends to be one conversation and one speaker at a time.
PAST / PRESENT / FUTURE
Societies vary in the amount of emphasis placed on tradition.
Example: The U.S. places an intrinsic value in change, innovation, and the future. Other societies, Latino for example, place more of a premium on history and tradition.
PARTICULARISTIC / UNIVERSALISTIC
The extent to which societies go by the book as opposed to a consideration of the extenuating circumstances of each case varies.
Example: It's midnight. The stoplight is red but there are no other cars around. You "particularistically" drive through the red light!
AUTOCRATIC / COLLEGIAL
The extent to which workplaces are top down varies.
Example: Compare "my way or the highway" to "what's your input?" Compare "Who does he think he is telling me how to do my job?" to "Why is he asking me? If he doesn't know what to do he shouldn't be the boss!"
ORDER / FLEXIBILITY
The extent to which individuals feel threatened and uncomfortable in situations where there are no clear cut rules or precedents varies.
Example: Brainstorming is a valid business exercise in the U.S. that may be considered immature or irrational by Germans.
GROUP / INDIVIDUAL
The extent to which individualism is valued and practiced varies.
Example: The U.S. places high value on individual achievement whereas Japan places greater emphasis on group achievement.
|Mark Friedman, president of Third-Culture, teaches and consults in business and culture. He speaks Chinese, Malay/Indonesian, French, Italian, and Czech. He can be reached at (978) 828-3629 or firstname.lastname@example.org|