Communication- Cultural Influences Essay

1941 Words May 19th, 2008 8 Pages
Write an essay about the social context of communication and how cultural influences shape how people communicate with each other

In today’s 21st Century society through our day-to-day lives we encounter many different people from many different cultural backgrounds. It is almost inevitable that we will have to communicate with at least one other person on any given day. Whether this is at work, at school, while out shopping, or even when talking on the telephone, communication is vital in order to ensure that our wants and needs can be met and also to voice an opinion. As “different cultures have different approaches to communication” (Thompson, 2003 pg. 29), there will often be times when our interpretations of something communicated
…show more content…
Language usage can have an effect on cross-cultural communication. Take for example the word ‘Yes’. In New Zealand and most other western cultures the word ‘Yes’ in response to a question generally means ‘certainly’ or ‘definitely’, whereas in other cultures such as the Chinese culture the word ‘Yes’ means ‘OK, I want to respect you and not offend you’, it doesn't necessarily show agreement (Clark, G. 1999)
Non-verbal communication is an important aspect of communication, which can have large impact on intercultural communication. Non-verbal communication is basically the sending and receiving of messages without the use of verbal codes. Some of the time these messages are consciously sent and received, such as waving goodbye to a friend who is leaving on a plane for example, but most of the time the speakers/listeners are unaware of the messages. One must be careful when interpreting non-verbal communications from other cultures and be aware that specific gestures may mean something different if not completely opposite in a different culture. Take for example in New Zealand European culture direct eye-to-eye contact is seen as respectful and showing interest in the persons speaking, whereas in Maori and Pacific Island cultures eye contact is viewed as offensive or aggressive (Massey University, 2008), while in other cultures such as Japanese or African eye contact is avoided to show respect.
Another important aspect that can affect

Related Documents