Term Paper: Intercultural Communication Explain How Differences

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Intercultural Communication

Explain how differences in the perception of time and the use of space affect intercultural and co-cultural communication.

Imagine this scenario. You arrive for an afternoon meeting at the scheduled time. You have just suffered a long flight from New York to Paris. Forty-five minutes later, the representatives from your organization's French branch sally into the conference room. They are still discussing the delightful new cafe they discovered, where they have enjoyed a two-hour lunch. 'Why didn't they leave on time for our carefully scheduled meeting,' you rage inside, 'how could they be so inconsiderate?' Later, when you explain your ire to a French friend, he does not understand why less than an hour was so important to you.

Imagine another scenario. You are meeting the representatives of a Japanese organization your business hopes to embark upon in a joint venture. The two of you offer your hands to shake. They do so, gently, while you and your colleague give a firm handshake, to show that you mean business. You sit close by these representatives at the table, to show your friendliness, but they seem standoffish. You leave the meeting feeling as though things did not go well, that the two of you did not make a good impression. Yet despite their apparent dislike for American closeness in physical gestures of friendship, you note that many Japanese citizens happily pack themselves into loaded commuter trains.

These experiences illustrate some differences in how different cultures value time, such as American's premium upon time equating money, versus the French value upon leisure and quality of life, or the different protocols regarding personal space that vary between and within cultures depending on different situational contexts. A largely Muslim nation like Morocco might be quite flexible about the beginnings of meeting times, given its French colonial history but the times for prayers to Mecca are inflexible. Even within the United States, a Southerner might be taken aback by what he sees as an impatient, 'in your face' New Yorker. Thus cultural awareness is important, so that cultural norms are not read as rudeness or ingratitude and impede real understanding between nations or regions.

What are the differences in behavior exhibited by people who come from cultures that have different activity orientations?

Activity orientations refer to the culture's degree on emphasis in 'doing' and 'being.' This stress upon what someone does is almost immediately apparent in a cocktail party in the United States. "What do you do?" is the first question everyone is asked, as if vocation is synonymous with identity. Pragmatic, logical, and forward-thinking approaches and an emphasis on getting things done are the hallmarks of American business and in American society' doing one's job is synonymous with doing something of measurable value. Someone who does not work, such as a homemaker, will often say that he or she… [END OF PREVIEW]

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