How Does Culture Affect Communication?

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Culture impacts the ways in which people communicate as well as the strategies they use to communicate. The different life experiences people have based on cultural norms also affect the interpretation they have of messages delivered by others.

Culture forms a paradigm through which a person views or experiences the world. Someone in the United States may communicate from a different perspective than someone from an undeveloped nation, for instance. An American may complain about job pressures and social constraints, while an immigrant worker talks about opportunities and freedoms provided by work. Such different points of view can make it difficult for the two workers to share openly.

Many industrialized countries, including the United States, Britain and Canada, tend to rely more heavily on electronic technology for communication as it becomes available. In Japan, face-to-face communication remains the ideal, in spite of access to advanced technology.

In the U.S. work setting, efficiency and productivity are often goals with business communication. In many South American countries, business communication is a blend of small talk and work talk. The goal is to build rapport prior to or while doing business. It is important for American business leaders to slow down and take the time to establish relationships with global business partners.