Module 03 - Communicating across Cultures
How does culture affect business communication? LO 3-2
In every single aspect!
Culture influences every single aspect of business communication:
how to show politeness and respect, how much information to give,
how to motivate people, how loud to talk, even what size paper to
use. PP 3-9 shows the dimensions of culture.
Values, Beliefs, and Practices
Help students understand that our values and beliefs are influenced
by culture. What is “right” or “wrong” often depends on our cultural norms. Yet, we may
assume that all cultures share the same value system.
Even if we surround ourselves with people of the same culture, there is opportunity for conflict.
Perhaps the best way to minimize conflict is to focus on the similarities among people, rather
than the differences.
Teaching Tip: Have the students break into groups of 4-5 and list all of the things
they do on a daily basis that might be culturally influenced. These can include their
choice of clothing, food, books, music, and leisure pursuits. Once the students agree
on a list, have them discuss the variations within each category. For instance, why
might some students like rock, while others might like hip hop, while others might
like country? Despite the variety, what fundamentally links our choices? Beyond
superficial elements, such as style, how truly different are these beliefs and
practices? What makes them similar?
Communication that doesn’t use words takes place all the time as
illustrated on PP 3-11 through PP 3-13. Body language, the size of an
office, or how long someone keeps a visitor waiting—all these
communicate pleasure or anger, friendliness or distance, power and
Students must understand that nonverbal signals can be misinterpreted
just as easily as can words. But unlike words, distinctions among norms may be less clear.
Facial expressions—even smiling—are culturally learned behaviors and can differ accordingly.
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