For Group Communications, or Intro. to CMMU class -
Culture and Verbal Communication
For this paper, I have once again chosen a topic that I have a great deal of interest in. I find it absolutely fascinating how something like culture can so dramatically affect the communication that may or may not take place between individuals of different cultures. In this paper, I will examine the differences between high- and low-context cultures, and the problems that can arise during communication between members of different cultures.
Before looking at the differences between high- and low-context, we must first determine just what they are. To begin we must clearly define context. Context is the information that surrounds an event; it is inextricably bound up with the meaning of that event. The elements that combine to produce a given meaning - events and context - are in different proportions depending on the culture.
The cultures of the world can be compared on a scale from high to low. According to Edward Hall, in his book Beyond Culture, low-context cultures use language primarily to express thought, ideas and feelings as clearly and logically as possible. To understand what is being communicated one must look at the spoken words. Put simply, in a low-context culture, what is said is what is meant. Conversely, in a high-context culture, there is a usage of subtle cues, often nonverbal with the aim of maintaining social harmony. The communicators from these cultures learn to determine what is truly being expressed by examining nonverbal behaviors, context of the message, history of the relationship, and the social rules governing interaction.
Japanese, Arabs, and Mediterranean peoples, who have extensive information networks among family, friends, colleagues and clients and who are involved in close personal relationships, are considered high-context. As a result,