How Culture Affects Communication

how does culture affect business communication

How Culture Affects Communication

Understanding how culture affects Communication

Comprehending the verbal and nonverbal meanings of a message is difficult even when communicators are from the same culture.

When they come from different cultures, special sensitivity and skills are necessary.

Negotiators for a North American company learned this lesion when they were in japan looking for a trading partner. The North American were pleased after their first meeting with representatives of a major Japanese firm. The Japanese had nodded assent throughout the meeting and had not objected to a single proposal. The next day, however, the north Americans were stunned to learn that the Japanese had reject the entire plan. In interpreting the nonverbal behavioral messages, the north American made a typical mistakes. They assumed the Japanese were nodding in agreement as fellow North Americans would. In this case, however, the nods of assent indicated comprehension-not approval.

Every country has a unique culture or common

heritage, joint experience, and shared learning that produce its culture. Their common experience gives members of that culture a complex system of shared values and customs. It teaches them how to behave; it conditions their reactions. The more you know about culture in general and your own culture in particular, the better able you will be to adopt an intercultural perspective.

So today, I will outline some key dimensions of culture; look at them from various points of views and contrast with other cultures.


Context is one of the most important cultural dimensions, yet it is among the most difficult to define. In a model developed by cultural anthropologist Edward T. Hall, context refers to the stimuli, environment, or ambience surrounding an event. Hall arranged cultures on a continuum, shown in Figure 1.7,from low to high in relation to context. Our figure also summarizes key comparisons for today’s business communicators.

Communicators in low –context.


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