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Communication Tools for Understanding Cultural Differences
Transcript of Communication Tools for Understanding Cultural Differences
Alesia "Alie" Lanier
Understanding each other is very important.
Effective communication is the key to making progress in a conflict.
Self-knowledge and self-awareness are needed, and without them, the normal approaches to meaning-making and communication will never be clear.
Cultural fluency is needed also. Cultural fluency means understanding what culture is and how it works.
High-context and low-context communication, and Individualist and communitarian conceptions of self and other are the tools to examine in relation to communication and ways of seeing the self in relation to others.
The two tools above help by showing how different groups of people make sense of their worlds. The tools are not reliable guides to every member of a particular group, since culture is frequently evolving and changing as people within groups and the contexts around them change.
Communication Tools for Understanding Culture
Do I tend to "let my words speak for themselves," or prefer to be less direct, relying on what is implied by my communication? (low-context communication)
Do I prefer indirect messages from others, and am I attuned to a whole range of verbal and nonverbal cues to help me understand the meaning of what is said? (high-context communication)
Questions to understand this distinction between high-context and low-context communication
Individualism and Communitarianism is the second dimension important to conflict and conflict resolution.
One way to discern communitarian or individualist starting points is to listen to various forms of greetings.
There are many exceptions to cultural patterns and everyone uses different starting points depending on the context, noticing the intersections of ways of making meaning is usually a useful tool into conflict dynamics.
Individualism and Communitarianism
Combining Starting Points: High-Context/Low-Context and Individualism/Communitarianism
High-context communication often corresponds with communitarian settings.
Low-context communication often occurs in individualist settings.
Indirect communication that draws heavily on nonverbal cues may be preferable in that type of setting, because it allows for multiple meanings, saves face, leaves room for group input into decisions, and displays interdependence.
In individualist settings, low-context communication may be preferable because it is direct, it expresses individual desires and it initiatives, it displays independence, and it clarifies the meaning intended by the speaker.