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Communication in Cultural Context, Essay Example

Pages: 2

Words: 455

Essay

Communication helps us learn about cultures whether our own or a foreign culture because communication is the process of exchange of ideas and information. Communication styles also reflect cultural values. For example, individualistic cultures encourage assertive and competitive communication styles while collectivist cultures encourage cooperative and group-oriented communication styles. Similarly, individualistic cultures generally rely on low-context communication style which is direct and explicit while collectivist cultures rely on high-context communication style which is indirect and quite implicit. Thus, it is clear that communication styles do reflect the characteristics of the host culture(Wood).

Communication also helps keep cultural values alive. Americans tend to be assertive in their ideas which reflect their cultural value of individuality. Similarly, the use of words that reflect cultural values become a common occurrence. The phrases such as “let’s not waste time” reflect the importance of time in America and similarly, the phrase “the early bird gets the worm” reflects positive attitude towards risk in American culture. At the same time, communication can also become a source of cultural change as is evident by the changing attitudes towards gays. Similarly, Japanese management practices have been translated into English language and have influenced organizational cultures in America(Wood).

An online article explores the possibility that since different cultures have different communication styles, the communication style among married couples may alsovary across cultures. The article focuses on a study by Hannah C. Williamson of the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeleswho studied American and Chinese couples to determine whether cultural differences also mean differences inrelationship and communication patterns among married couples in U.S. and China. Williamson hypothesized that American couples would demonstrate higher levels of positivity than Chinese couples because American culture value intimacy and romantic expression over social expectations of extended family harmony as compared to Chinese culture. However, she found that both American and Chinese married couples demonstrated almost equal levels of positivity.

But Williamson did find that Chinese wives held more overall negative attitudes towards their husbands as compared to American wives which also impacted relationship satisfaction among Chinese wives. Williamson believes this is because Chinese culture is collectivist, thus, cultural norms discourages wives from directly expressing their feelings to their partners. This hesitation to express oneself also negatively affects communication between Chinese couples. In contrast, American culture encourages direct and open communication which may be why American couples enjoy more satisfied relationships. Thus, a culture does influence how couples interact with each other including their communication pattern (Good Therapy).

References

Good Therapy. Does Culture Determine Communication Style and Relationship Satisfaction? 26 March 2012. 25 October 2012 <http://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/culture-communication-relationship-satisfaction-0326123/>.

Wood, Julia T. “Adapting Communication to Cultures and Social Communities.” Communication Mosaics: An Introduction to the Field of Communication. 6. Wadsworth Publishing, January 1, 2010. 158-178.

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