Communication is the process of creating and sharing information with one another. Rapid changes in technology, transportation and immigration are making the world into a small-intersected community, where understanding how different cultures communicate is extremely important. In order to achieve effective intercultural communication we have to understand how different cultures communicate.
Communication styles differ by how power is distributed within an organization. There are essentially two types: hierarchical, and democratic. In a hierarchical structure the most power is held by the highest ranking individual, where as in a democratic ...view middle of the document...
They value relationships over schedules. The focus is on the present. In cyclical time cultures, time manages life and humans must adjust to time. The cycle of life controls people and they must live in harmony with nature and subscribe to the repetitive patterns of life. Cultural concepts of time represent strong normative forces affecting the behaviours and cognitions of the communicators.
The past decade has brought many advances in technology. These advances are affecting the way cultures communicate and do business. Nowadays, it is not possible to study communication without considering an electronic communication.
To examine intercultural communication, four countries from four continents have been selected: Canada, Brazil, Germany and Japan. The study of these differences and similarities in communication will help people to work and socialize in the global world.
Power: Hierarchical vs. Democratic Cultures
North American businesses have relatively democratic organizational patterns, which allow a free flow of information. “No matter what their job descriptions, workers in more democratic cultures may consider themselves colleagues with differing levels of responsibility. North American organizations do not distinguish people by ranks or jurisdiction and respect equality. Ideas, suggestions, and complaints are sent to anyone by anyone and both upward and downward directions are used within an organization.
In Brazil, individualism is upheld by hardship in the economy, creating a social hierarchy that does not respect the rules of equality found in democratic frameworks, like that of Canada. Brazil is aristocratic in its culture and politics. People of high rank maintain an authoritative distance. In business decisions are made by the highest ranking individual. This steep hierarchy discourages input from those at lower levels to those at higher levels. Furthermore, information slows down as it moves up the levels of authority eventually reaching the decision maker who is overloaded with information. On the way down, information moves quickly.
Japan is also observed to have a hierarchical organizational structure. “The Japanese prefer a strict hierarchy in their organizations, and that promotion in Japanese government and businesses is usually based on seniority.” The Japanese culture’s preference for a clearly defined hierarchy is closely related to the Confucian thought. Japanese believe that clarifying who is in charge is a good way to preserve harmony; therefore, organizational situations where there is a defined hierarchy are more comfortable. To those from Confucian cultures, losing face—personal dignity, can be devastating and involves not only embarrassment but also profound shame. Germany respects authority and hierarchical differences. Germans are autocrats, who prefer formal communication when conducting business. Autocratic leaders give order in a certain manner, which shows directness and straightforwardness....