We are all individuals, and although you can’t assume that two individuals from the same culture will respond in precisely the same manner, generalizations are valid to the extent that they provide hints on what you will most likely experience during an intercultural exchange. Not only do we face language barriers, but assumptions in behaviors and mannerisms can lead to further errors in the communication process. Egocentrism, assuming others will interrupt your actions in the same cultural context as your own, is a source of the breakdown in message creation and interpretation (PSU WC, 2020, L.4).
Cultural differences influence global Communication; even the choice of medium used to communicate may have cultural overtones. While there are many models of Communication, the basic process involves encoding and decoding a message through a channel between a sender and a receiver (Moran, Abramson, & Moran, 2014). The determining factor in medium preference is depended on whether the country falls into a high-context or low-context culture. High-context cultures leave much of the message undefined; to be interpreted through context, nonverbal cues, and between-the-line interpretation of what is verbally communicated (Moran, Abramson, & Moran, 2014). High-context is looking for meaning and understanding in what is not said, observing body language, in silences and pauses. Japan is one country that uses high-context Communication, and when speaking to a low-context communicator, it can be perceived that they are leaving out information. In contrast, low-context cultures expect messages to be explicit and specific, emphasizing the sending and receiving of accurate messages directly and by being precise with spoken or written words (PSU WC, 2020, L.4). The United States is a low-context communication country, and such can appear to be speaking down to a high context communicator.
Adding to the complexity of intercultural communications, you may consider the sense of time. Running late in some countries isn’t seen as rude, but as a given; in these cultures, time is polychronic. Polychronic cultures approach time as flexible, and the quality of the work outweighs the timeframe (Moran, Abramson, & Moran, 2014). On the other hand, monochronic cultures view time as rigid and emphasize promptness(Moran, Abramson, & Moran, 2014). They also tend to be task-oriented, whereas people from polychronic cultures are people-oriented. Cross-cultural methods to time influence doing business internationally and should be an important consideration before seeing another’s action as inconsiderate.
In summary, communicating in one’s own culture can be complex, add to this another language and learned a set of behaviors and you see you are navigating a minefield of social misunderstandings. As we will further explore the differences between cultures in this course I hope to learn how to properly interpret intercultural communication, as it is a large part of what I do every day.
Moran, R. T., Abramson, N. R., & Moran, S. V. (2014). Managing cultural differences. London: Routledge.
Pennsylvania State University. (2020). Leadership in a global context – OLEAD 410. Lesson 4: Global Communication, Penn State World Campus. Retrieved from