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Module 6 Notes - Module 6 A key variable in how people from...

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Module 6 A key variable in how people from different cultures communicate has to do with how directly or indirectly things are communicated. Most of us are familiar with these variables, as we know some people in our own cultural group who communicate more or less directly than others. However, in our culture as in other cultures, there are patterns and norms relating to this variable. In other words, people from a given cultural group will tend to communicate on average using a certain level of directness or indirectness (we're talking about AVERAGE here; as usual with these variables, there are exceptions due to personality differences and situational demands). Many writers on intercultural communications characterize Asian societies as favoring a more indirect communication style, related to the notion of saving face and social harmony. Though characterizing a whole society this way is a bit simplistic, there WILL be more situations in Asian societies where it will be appropriate to communicate indirectly in comparison to the USA. In the USA , individuals tend to favor in many situations a more direct style of communication. Expressions such as “spell it out”, “get it all out on the table”, “don’t beat around the bush”, and “he’s a straight shooter” summarize the value placed on direct communications in many situations (this is not to say US Americans never value diplomatic language and indirectness, just that a direct style is more normative in more situations compared to other places). As illustrated by the cartoon about the two businessmen talking about prices, in a situation where two people from different cultures have different preferences for how directly they communicate, there may be misunderstandings when these people talk with each other. Therefore, while the second meaning of "candor" below may be a positive thing in the USA, it may not have this positive effect in many contexts in Japan or China. This is not to say you won't hear clear, direct, and frank discussion in Japan or China, just that there will be many situations there where candor is not as appreciated as much as in the USA. candor •\ kan-d r, - d r\• noun ˈ ə ˌ ȯ 1. ability to make judgments free from discrimination or dishonesty 2. the quality of being honest and straightforward in attitude and speech Direct vs indirect is just one example of how verbal communication styles can differ across cultural spaces
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In this section, we examine some of the key variations in how people from different cultures communicate via spoken speech. Please remember 4 key cautions when reading these materials: within any given cultural group, there might be many subgroup (subcultural) or individual differences any single person might modify their communication styles depending on the situation when you speak of a culture having this trait or that, think of the trait as a continuum, with different cultures "having" or practicing the trait along a scale: it's rarely a black and
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