Avoid Problems Of Cross Cultural Communication English Language Essay

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Culture is the continum within which all communication takes place. Communication needs a certain platform shared by the sender and the receiver. Culture is the platform which makes sharing of cultural codes, values, icons, and symbols possible and meaningful. The medium of communication is after all a system of cultural codes that the sender borrows to express his/her ideas. The receiver must understand these codes in terms of the culture from which they have been borrowed and it is only then that s/he would derive maximum sense from it.

Culture plays a major role by adding significance to apparently arbitrary conventions, Cultural conventions determine the way we communicate, how we communicate and what we communicate. If the conventions are broken, communication suffers a disjunction and there is great scope for ambiguity. Familiarly with the cultural codes enhances communication skills and allows people in that cultural context to exchange massages that are clear and more complete.

Different culture-specific cues are called cultural variables. These bring in the social and cultural variations in the way we talk, dress, and conduct business, or even how we conduct ourselves.

Cross-cultural communication is a field of study that looks at how people from differing cultural backgrounds communicate, in similar and different ways among themselves, and how they endeavour to communicate across cultures.

Understanding Cultural Diversity

Different cultural contexts bring new communication challenges to the workplace. Even when employees located in different locations or offices speak the same language there are some cultural differences. In such cases, an effective communication strategy begins with the understanding that the sender of the message and the receiver of the message are from different cultures and backgrounds.

Funda mental Patterns of Cultural Differences…

Different Communication Styles

The way people communicate varies widely between, and even within, cultures. One aspect of communication style is usage of the language. Across cultures, some words and phrases are used in various different ways.

Another major aspect of communication style is the degree of importance given to non-verbal communication. Non-verbal communication includes not only facial expressions and gestures but it also involves seating arrangements, personal distance, and sense of time.

Different Attitudes Towards Conflict

Some cultures view conflict as a positive thing, while others view it as something to be avoided. In fact, face-to-face meetings are recommended as the way to work through whatever problems exist.

Different Approaches of Completing Tasks

From culture to culture, there are different ways of completing different tasks. Some reasons include different access to resources, different judgments of the rewards associated with task completion, different notions of time, and varied ideas about how relationship-building and task-oriented work should go together.

Different Decision-Making Styles

The roles individuals play in decision-making vary widely from culture to culture. Individuals' expectations about their own roles in shaping a decision may be influenced by their cultural frame of reference. Like Indians take decisions very late whereas countries like Japan, U.S.A. believe in quick decision making techniques.

Different Attitudes Toward Disclosure

In some cultures, it is not appropriate to be frank about emotions, about the reasons behind a conflict or a misunderstanding, or about personal information. Keeping this in mind when we are in a dialogue or when we are working with others. When we are dealing with a conflict, be mindful that people may differ in what they feel comfortable revealing. Questions that may seem natural to us may seem intrusive to others. The variation among cultures in attitudes toward disclosure is also something to consider before we conclude that we have an accurate reading of the views, experiences, and goals of the people with whom we are working.

Different Approaches to Knowing

Differences among cultural groups occur when it comes to the ways people come to know different things. Recent popular works demonstrate that our own society is paying more attention to previously overlooked ways of knowing. Indeed, these different approaches to knowing could affect ways of analyzing a community problem or finding ways to resolve it.

The world is a colorful landscape of different languages, skin colors, and different cultures. It's important to develop an appreciation for different cultures in order to become a well-rounded person who is sensitive to the unique qualities of others. One way to develop this appreciation is to try to learn about other cultures around the world.

As I work for a multinational IT company and have been transferred to Japan for five years on a project.

There are several ways to become knowledgeable about the culture of Japan and one of them is through information available on the Internet. I would also like to read books on Japanese culture, etiquette, food habits and about verbal and non verbal communication

Some basic features of Japanese Culture gathered from different sources:

Harmony is the guiding philosophy for the Japanese in family and business settings and in society as a whole.  This need for harmonious relationships between people is reflected in much Japanese behaviour. They place great emphasis on politeness, personal responsibility and working together for the universal, rather than the individual, good.  They see working in harmony as the crucial ingredient for working productively

Since the Japanese strive for harmony and are group dependent, they rely on facial expression, tone of voice and posture to tell them what someone feels. 

They often trust non-verbal messages more than the spoken word as words can have several meanings. Frowning while someone is speaking is interpreted as a sign of disagreement. 

Most Japanese maintain an impassive expression when speaking. 

Expressions to watch out for include inhaling through clenched teeth, tilting the head, scratching the back of the head, and scratching the eyebrow.

Non-verbal communication is so vital that there is a book for 'gaijins' (foreigners) on how to interpret the signs!

It is considered disrespectful to stare into another person's eyes, particularly those of a person who is senior because of age or status. 

In crowded situations the Japanese avoid eye contact.

The Japanese are very conscious of age and status and as such everyone has a distinct place in the hierarchy, be it the family unit, the extended family, a social or a business situation.  In a social situation, the older persons will be served first and their drinks will be poured for them.

The Japanese believe that turning down someone's request causes embarrassment and loss of face to the other person. If the request cannot be agreed to, they will say, 'it's inconvenient' or 'it's under consideration'. The Japanese will try never to do anything to cause loss of face. 

Knowing these key Japanese customs, I'll get closer to the locals and representatives of different business groups of japan

1. Addressing Someone With Respect

Bowing is nothing less than an art form in Japan, respect pounded into children's heads from the moment they enter school. For tourists like me a simple inclination of the head or an attempt at a bow at the waist will usually suffice.

2. Table Manners

- If I am in a dinner party and receive drinks, I must wait before raising the glass to my lips. Everyone will be served, and someone will take the lead, make a speech, raise his drink, and yell "kampai!" (cheers).

- If I ever receive a small wet cloth at Japanese restaurants. Then I must use this to wash my hands before eating, then I must carefully fold it and set it aside on the table.( Do not use it as a napkin, or to touch any part of your face).

- Slurping noodles or making loud noises while eating is OK! It shows that a person is enjoying the food..

- Raise bowls to mouth to make it easier to eat with chopsticks, especially bowls of rice.

- Just before digging in, whether it be a seven-course dinner or a sample at a supermarket, it's polite to say "itadakimasu" (I will receive).

3. No Tipping

There is no tipping in any situation in Japan - cabs, restaurants, personal care. To tip someone is actually a little insulting; the services you've asked for are covered by the price given, so there is no need to pay more.

4. Chopsticks

Depending on the restaurant a person decide upon for any evening, chopsticks are required.

If for some reason one is not too adept with chopsticks, try to learn before passing through immigration. It's really not that hard.

5. Thresholds

Take off shoes at the entrance to all homes, and most businesses and hotels. Usually a rack will be provided to store your shoes, and pair of guest slippers will be sitting nearby; many Japanese bring a pair of indoor slippers just in case, though.

6. Masks

Sterilized masks, like the ones we have see in the emergency room, are commonly used by salarymen, office ladies, and municipal workers to protect other people from their germs.

7. Conformity

Drawing attention to yourself as an individual is a huge no-no: don't blow nose in public, try to avoid eating while on the go, and don't speak on cell phone in crowded public areas like trains or buses.

The main problem with this is that foreigners simply can't avoid standing out; we stick out like sore thumbs no matter how long we've been here, or how much we know about Japanese culture and society.

8. Bathing

Public bathhouses are alive and well in Japan. Unlike in western cultures, the Japanese bath is used after you have washed and rinsed, and feel like soaking in extra-hot water for 10, 20, 30 minutes. It's an acquired taste to be sure, but can be very relaxing. The honor is given of using the bath first, usually before dinner. One must be extra careful so as to not dirty the water in any way; the sanctity of the ofuro (bath) is of utmost importance.

9. Speaking English

Japanese will generally assume you are a native English speaker until you prove otherwise. -

Although one may speak some or fluent Japanese, the default language of choice is English. Many Japanese will insist on using their own English language ability, however limited, to converse with foreigners, in spite of the fact that the person on the opposing end may have more knowledge of the local tongue.

10. Safety

Every Japanese person I have met warns me to be safe in my travels, to take care of my belongings. Every foreigner tells me not to worry, nothing can go wrong, nothing will be stolen.

However, Japan's low crime rate is evident when I saw businessmen who have missed the last train sleeping outside on a park bench, or a group of 5-year-old boys walking by themselves for over a kilometer to make the starting bell at school.

Japan Appearance

International Business Dress and Appearance  One must dress to impress.

International Business Dress and Appearance  For men, they must wear dark conservative attire. Business suits are most suitable.

International Business Dress and Appearance  Shoes should be easy to remove, as one will be expected to do so often.

 International Business Dress and Appearance  One must avoid using large hand gestures, unusual facial expressions and any dramatic movements.

International Business Dress and Appearance  Avoid the "OK" sign; in Japan it means money.

International Business Dress and Appearance  Pointing in not acceptable.

International Business Dress and Appearance  One must not blow one's nose in public

International Business Dress and Appearance  Personal space is valued

  A smile can have double meaning. It can express either joy or displeasure.

International Business Dress and Appearance  The Japanese are not uncomfortable with silence.

Japan  Behavior 

http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/images/international-business-etiquette.gif   Drinking is an important part of Japanese culture. It is a way to relieve business stress.

http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/images/international-business-etiquette.gif  One must never pour a drink oneself, allow someone else to do it.

  Most business entertaining is done in restaurants or bars after business hours.

http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/images/international-business-etiquette.gif  Let the host order the meal and pay.

http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/images/international-business-etiquette.gif  Japanese rarely entertain in the home. If one is invited to the home of Japanese host, he should consider it a great honor and display a tremendous amount of appreciation.

http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/images/international-business-etiquette.gif  If one is invited to a social event, It is the custom to be "fashionably late."

  If one has to take one's host out, he must insist upon paying. The Japanese will refuse but insist.

http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/images/international-business-etiquette.gif  It is perfectly acceptable to slurp one's noodles. Doing so will exhibit enjoyment of food. To do otherwise, indicates that the meal was not a pleasant one.

  One must not openly display money.

http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/images/international-business-etiquette.gif  Number 14 is bad luck, because in Japanese it sounds like the word 'shuh-shuh', which sounds like the word for death.

  Gift giving is very important both business and personal gifts. Gifts should always be wrapped. Gifts should be given and accepted with both hands.

http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/images/international-business-etiquette.gif Gifts should be given at the end of a visit.

THERE ARE 10 STRATEGIES THAT HELPS IN MAKING CROSS-CULTURAL COMMUNICATIONAL EFFECTIVE…….

http://www.nynj-phtc.org/images/top10-400-white.jpg

Japan Appearance

International Business Dress and Appearance  Those who dress according to their status or position impress the Japanese. Dress to impress.

International Business Dress and Appearance  Men should wear dark conservative attire. Business suits are most suitable.

International Business Dress and Appearance  Casual dress is never appropriate in a business setting.

International Business Dress and Appearance  Shoes should be easy to remove, as you will do so often. Slip-ons are the best choice.

International Business Dress and Appearance  Women's dress should be conservative. Little emphasis should be placed on accessories. They should be minimal.

International Business Dress and Appearance  Women should not wear pants in a business situation. Japanese men tend to find it offensive.

International Business Dress and Appearance  Women should only wear low-heeled shoes to avoid towering over men.

International Business Dress and Appearance  A kimono should be wrapped left over right to do otherwise symbolizes death.

International Business Dress and Appearance  Remember the Japanese phrase "The nail that sticks up gets hit with the hammer" when considering your choices for attire in Japan.

International Business Dress and Appearance  Avoid using large hand gestures, unusual facial expressions and any dramatic movements. The Japanese do not talk with their hands and to do so could distract your host.

International Business Dress and Appearance  Avoid the "OK" sign; in Japan it means money.

International Business Dress and Appearance  Pointing in not acceptable.

International Business Dress and Appearance  Do no blow your nose in public

International Business Dress and Appearance  Personal space is valued. Because the Japanese live in such a densely populated area, they value their personal space.

International Business Dress and Appearance  A smile can have double meaning. It can express either joy or displeasure. Use caution with your facial expressions. They can be easily misunderstood.

International Business Dress and Appearance  The Japanese are not uncomfortable with silence. They use it to their advantage in many situations. Allow your host to sit in silence.

 

Japan Behavior 

http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/images/international-business-etiquette.gif  The word for toasting is kampai, pronounced 'kahm-pie'. When toasting the glass is never left unfilled. Drinking is an important part of Japanese culture. It is a way to relieve business stress.

http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/images/international-business-etiquette.gif  Never pour a drink yourself; always allow someone else to do it for you.

http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/images/international-business-etiquette.gif  Most business entertaining is done in restaurants or bars after business hours. Often in karaoke or "hostess bars." Businesswomen should not attend "hostess bars."

http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/images/international-business-etiquette.gif  Let the host order the meal and pay. Business may be discussed at dinner during these events.

http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/images/international-business-etiquette.gif  Japanese rarely entertain in the home. If you are invited to the home of your Japanese host, consider it a great honor and display a tremendous amount of appreciation.

http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/images/international-business-etiquette.gif  If you are invited to a social event, punctuality is not expected. It is the custom to be "fashionably late."

http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/images/international-business-etiquette.gif  If you do take your host out insist upon paying. The Japanese will refuse but insist. They will prefer that you choose a Western-style restaurant when entertain them.

http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/images/international-business-etiquette.gif  Key phrases to learn are "itadakimasu" at the beginning of dinner, and "gochisou-sama-deshita" at the end. It is polite use these phrase and it will show you host that you have enjoyed the meal.

http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/images/international-business-etiquette.gif  "Sumimasen" (excuse-me) is a very useful term to add to your vocabulary along with the phrase "kekko desu" (I've had enough).

http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/images/international-business-etiquette.gif  It is perfectly acceptable to slurp your noodles. Doing so will exhibit your enjoyment of your food. To do otherwise, indicates that your meal was not a pleasant one.

http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/images/international-business-etiquette.gif  Do not openly display money. It is rare to see it given from person to person in Japan. It is important to use an envelope to pass money.

http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/images/international-business-etiquette.gif  In Asia the number 14 is bad luck, because in Japanese it sounds like the word 'shuh-shuh', which sounds like the word for death.

http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/images/international-business-etiquette.gif  Tipping is not expected.

http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/images/international-business-etiquette.gif  Gift giving is very important both business and personal gifts - See international business gift giving section.

http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/images/international-business-etiquette.gif  Style is tantamount. The gift itself is of little importance, the ceremony surrounding it is very important.

http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/images/international-business-etiquette.gif  Always wrap gifts. The selection of the wrapping paper is critical. Do not give anything wrapped in white as it symbolizes death. Do not use bright colors or bows to wrap the gift. It is better to have the hotel or the store wrap the gift to ensure that it is appropriate.

http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/images/international-business-etiquette.gif  Do not surprise the recipient with the gift. Give your host some warning during the evening that you intend to give them a present.

http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/images/international-business-etiquette.gif  Give the gift with both hands and accept gifts with hands.

http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/images/international-business-etiquette.gif  Generally, gifts will not be opened in your presence. If your host insist that you open the gift do so gingerly. They take pride in gift wrapping, show that you appreciation the effort.

http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/images/international-business-etiquette.gif  Do not give gifts in odd number or the number four, as odd numbers are bad luck and four sounds like the word for death in Japanese.

http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/images/international-business-etiquette.gif  Gifts should be given at the end of a visit.

http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/images/international-business-etiquette.gif  Do not admire anything belonging to your host too closely. The Japanese strive to please; you may be rewarded for your admiration.

http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/images/international-business-etiquette.gif  The most popular gift giving occasions in Japan are oseibo, which falls at the end of the year and O-chugen which falls during the middle of the year.

http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/images/international-business-etiquette.gif  Good gift ideas include top choice beef, fruit and alcohol such as brandy, quality whiskey and Bourbon along with excellent wines. They also appreciate gifts from high-end department stores like Saks and Neiman Marcus.

http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/images/international-business-etiquette.gif  The Japanese frown on open displays of affection. They do not touch in public. It is highly inappropriate to touch someone of the opposite sex in public.

 

Japan Communications 

http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/images/international-business-etiquette.gif  In Japan, business cards are called meishi. Japanese give and receive meishi with both hands. It should be printed in your home language on one side and Japanese on the other. Present the card with the Japanese language side up.

http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/images/international-business-etiquette.gif  The card will contain the name and title along with the company name, address and telephone number of the businessman. In Japan, businessmen are call "sarariman." A sarariman who does not have a

http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/images/international-business-etiquette.gif  Take special care in handling cards that are given to you. Do not write on the card. Do not put the card in you pocket or wallet, as either of these actions will be viewed as defacing or disrespecting the business card. Upon receipt of the card, it is important to make a photocopy of the name and title of the individual in your mind. Examine the card carefully as a show of respect.

http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/images/international-business-etiquette.gif  In a business situation, business cannot begin until the meishi exchange process is complete.

http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/images/international-business-etiquette.gif  The customary greeting is the bow. However, some Japanese may greet you with a handshake, albeit a weak one. Do not misinterpret a weak handshake as an indication of character.

http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/images/international-business-etiquette.gif  If you are greeted with a bow, return with a bow as low as the one you received. How low you bow determines the status of the relationship between you and the other individual. When you bow keep your eyes low and your palms flat next to your thighs. The business card should be given after the bow. This is very important to remember.

http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/images/international-business-etiquette.gif  In introductions use the person's last name plus the word san which means Mr. or Ms. The Japanese prefer to use last names. Do not request that they call you by your first name only. If you are uncertain about the pronunciation of a name, ask for assistance.

http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/images/international-business-etiquette.gif  Understand that the Japanese prefer not to use the word no. If you ask a question they may simply respond with a yes but clearly mean no. Understanding this is critical in the negotiation process.

http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/images/international-business-etiquette.gif  In Asia the number 4 is bad luck, because in Japanese it sounds like the word 'shuh-shuh', which sounds like the word for death.

 

The Japanese and 'Face'

. Saving face is crucial in Japanese society.

. The Japanese believe that turning down someone's request causes embarrassment and loss of face to the other person. 

. If the request cannot be agreed to, they will say, 'it's inconvenient' or 'it's under consideration'. 

. Face is a mark of personal dignity and means having high status with one's peers. 

. The Japanese will try never to do anything to cause loss of face. 

. Therefore, they do not openly criticize, insult, or put anyone on-the-spot.

. Face can be lost, taken away, or earned through praise and thanks. 

Harmony in Japanese Society

. Harmony is the key value in Japanese society. 

. Harmony is the guiding philosophy for the Japanese in family and business settings and in society as a whole.

. Japanese children are taught to act harmoniously and cooperatively with others from the time they go to pre-school. 

. The Japanese educational system emphasizes the interdependence of all people, and Japanese children are not raised to be independent but rather to work together. 

. This need for harmonious relationships between people is reflected in much Japanese behaviour. 

. They place great emphasis on politeness, personal responsibility and working together for the universal, rather than the individual, good. 

. They present facts that might be disagreeable in a gentle and indirect fashion.

.  They see working in harmony as the crucial ingredient for working productively. 

Japanese Non-Verbal Communication

. Since the Japanese strive for harmony and are group dependent, they rely on facial expression, tone of voice and posture to tell them what someone feels. 

. They often trust non-verbal messages more than the spoken word as words can have several meanings. 

. The context in which something is said affects the meaning of the words. Therefore, it is imperative to understand the situation to fully appreciate the response. 

. Frowning while someone is speaking is interpreted as a sign of disagreement. 

. Most Japanese maintain an impassive expression when speaking. 

. Expressions to watch out for include inhaling through clenched teeth, tilting the head, scratching the back of the head, and scratching the eyebrow.

. Non-verbal communication is so vital that there is a book for 'gaijins' (foreigners) on how to interpret the signs!

. It is considered disrespectful to stare into another person's eyes, particularly those of a person who is senior to you because of age or status. 

. In crowded situations the Japanese avoid eye contact to give themselves privacy. 

Japanese Hierarchy

. The Japanese are very conscious of age and status. 

. Everyone has a distinct place in the hierarchy, be it the family unit, the extended family, a social or a business situation. 

. At school children learn to address other students as senior to them ('senpai') or junior to them ('kohai'). 

. The oldest person in a group is always revered and honoured. In a social situation, they will be served first and their drinks will be poured for them.

 

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