Posts Tagged ‘Communication’
Individualism – Collectivism and Accountability in Intergroup Negotiations
However, for those who place a high emphasis on collectivism, cooperative behavior and harmony with others, especially with persons with whom one is similar, is normative and is likely to ensure positive evaluations in accountable negotiations.
In the low-accountability condition, those who had high levels of collectivism reported less cooperative intentions and behavior, and achieved lower outcomes, as compared to representatives with low levels of collectivism.
However, the current research suggests that negotiators’ behavior depends both on the nature of the negotiation situation, as well as on negotiators’ collectivism. Applying this to cross-cultural investigations, this suggests that broad generalizations about the negotiation styles of cultural groups, which does not take situations into account, are likely to be inappropriate.
Michele J. Gelfand / University of Maryland at College Park
Anu Realo / University of Tartu, Estonia
Journal of Applied Psychology , 1999, Vol. 84, No. 5, 721-736 – retrieved 08.12.2011 from http://www.bsos.umd.edu/psyc/gelfand/index.html
Interpersonal Communication Theory of Schulz von Thun (Four Sides Model)
Friedemann Schulz von Thun (*06.08.1944) enlarges the Watzlawick Model of communication by adding two more layers: the Self Revealing Layer and the Appeal Layer. These four Layers shape the Square of Communication (Kommunikationsquadrat):
Content Layer (CL) aka Sachebene (facts)
Relationship Layer (RL) aka Beziehungsseite (what I think of you)
Self Revealing Layer (SRL) aka Selbstkundgabe (who I am)
Appeal Layer (AL) aka Appellseite (what I want you to do)
Get his material here or download a pdf from Schulz von Thun directly here. For more information please visit his website http://www.schulz-von-thun.de/ or check his portrait at the Akademie für Konflikttransformation.
German users may refer to additional information on his website.
Deutschsprachige Besucher finden hier weiterführende Informationen.
“Muender und Ohren” / Tongues and Ears – Applications of Schulz von Thun`s Theories
Chinese Ears and Chinese Tongues
„Words cannot express a thought completely“ noted Confucius about the I Ging. He was aware of the limitations of language. For expressing a thought, Confucius needs the impression (picture), the character (logograph) and finally adds his finding (or taking action).
Chinese characters are logographs. That logographs derived from images or pictographs. Some Chinese logographs are still similar to the pictograph. Read more about Chinese and western characters at Logographs and Phonographs – Visualisation of Language
Logographs are not meant to express a thought precisely or distinguish different approaches. A single character can have different meanings, so it needs a lot of imagination, or active listening to understand a message. Sentences need to be “encoded” or interpreted by the recipient. (See E.T. Hall – High Context Cultures.) To understand the specific content it needs additional information (context).
Chinese Sender / Chinese Tongue
Content Layer (less distinct) In Chinese culture the Content layer needs additional information to understand. It is influenced by other layers more than in German culture. When the Content Layer leaves space for different interpretations (in respect of other layers), it harbors the risk of misinterpretations. Words are chosen more carefully for leaving enough space for the recipients.
Relationship Layer (highly distinct) How a content is delivered may also indicate the relationship between the sender and recipient. For making sure, that the CL is completely understood, the RL must be taken into account. The same content can have very different meanings depending on the recipient. Relationships have a long perspective (Long Term Orientation) and should be treated with priority.
Self Revealing Layer (less distinct) Harmony in Asia means a well structured hierarchical system in a “natural balance”. In order to keep this balance, a Chinese sender tends to avoid the Self Revealing Layer. Stressing the Self Revealing Layer indicates a deep gap between the sender and recipient or used as harsh critic. (It is still perilous in most parts of Asia to express personal political ideas in public.)
Appeal Layer (highly distinct) Since the Relationship Layer plays such a dominant part in communication, personal wishes are not clearly said but expressed in appeals.
Chinese Recipient / Chinese Ears
Content Layer (less distinct) The unspoken additional context leaves space for different interpretations. A Chinese recipient would not react spontaneously to certain words, but rather to situations. Words itself represent only limited information for Chinese recipients. A Chinese recipient usually adds different sources for information (body language, situation, sound,…) by himself. The Content Layer is only one layer of others and represents only a part of the message. Other layers may play a more important part in understanding a message.
Relationship Layer (highly distinct) The way the content is sent plays an important role to understand the content itself. The content depends on the estimated value for the recipient and can vary.
Self Revealing Layer (less distinct) The way the sender stresses the Self Revealing Layer points at the recipient, and not to the sender. When stressed, than for pointing at the recipient, and not to the sender.
Appeal Layer (highly distinct) The Appeal Layer is highly developed in Chinese culture. The “Chinese Appeal Ear” notices all indirect expressed wishes to balance the relationship. It helps to understand the Content Layer and corresponds with the relationship Layer. Neglecting the Appeal Layer can lead to deep conflicts in relationships.
German Ears and German Tongue
German language is meant to express information very precisely. Grammar includes different conjugations and declinations for transporting as much information as possible in the most efficient way. It does not need additional information (context) to understand a specific message (See E.T. Hall – Low Context Cultures.)
German Sender / German Tongue
Content Layer (highly distinct) A German sender expresses himself as clearly as possible to avoid misunderstandings. In opposite to Chinese senders, language is not regarded as a source of misunderstandings. Abstract information can be expressed comparatively well defined. Clear words are regarded as honest and true. The Content Layer is also used for expressing “the unspeakable”. Criticism is widely used to show how much the sender cares.
Relationship Layer (less distinct) Relationships are shown in deeds and not in words. Being punctual or keeping promises is widely felt as a sign of sympathy, respect and honesty. Neglecting settlements can cause severe damage on a relationship.
Self Revealing Layer (highly distinct) Expressing (and/or discussing) personal thoughts and moods is often felt as “being close to someone”. It is essential for any relationship to share those personal matters. Different opinions are respected or appreciated.
Appeal Layer (less distinct) German senders usually do not respect the recipient’s situation. Messages are clear and usually do not content hidden messages. Therefore Germans are respected as trustful and honest, but also naive and awkward.
German recipient / German Ears
Content Layer (highly distinct) Germans tend to stress the Content Layer in communication. A German recipient focuses on this layer most, neglecting other layers. The content of a message can be understood without or a minimum of additional information. Small Talk is often seen as unpleasant and inefficient. Often German senders “hide” other layers within the Content Layer. Emotions or “unspeakable messages” are drawn into the Content Layer. “True and honest” words can be felt as insult, and often enough meant this way.
Relationship Layer (less distinct) The Relationship Layer is not very distinct in German culture. A relationship is often shaped on the Content Layer. Authenticity and reliability make a person trustful. Keeping settlements is a good way to show respect and/or sympathy.
Self Revealing Layer (highly distinct) German culture is highly influenced by the idea of individuality. Sharing very personal thoughts can be a good way to approach other individuals. A German recipient needs this information to establish a relationship. A person holding back personal thoughts is regarded as not trustful, hiding something or “being fishy”.
Appeal Layer (less distinct) On the Appeal Layer the German recipient is mostly numb. The ability of “active listening” is not much developed. It is hard for a German recipient to understand implicit messages. Not corresponding on the Appeal Layer is often felt as “cold” or impersonal.
(Adopted/translated from Lei Wang/Cologne, Münder und Ohren, 2008)
Communication Theory of Paul Watzlawick (*25.06.1925 + 31.05.2007)
Watzlawick defined 5 different Communication Postulates (Axioms)
- One cannot not communicate. Even silence already contains a message.
- Human being communicate both digitally and analogically.
- Relationship has content and a relationship aspect. Facts and data is transported on the “Content Layer”. How this message should be understood is transported via the “Relationship Layer”. The relationship layer is mostly is unconsciously transported by body language (especially facial expressions), gestures or the tone. Encoding and decoding of these information plays an important part in communication.
- The nature of a relationship depends on how the two parties punctuate the communication sequence.
- All communication is either symmetrical or complementary. Every communication string is circular. It is an interaction between two or more partners. Behavior is a reaction on a previous situation. It also is impulse, boost or reduction of further actions. If previous behaviors or messages dominate the way we communicate, it can cause conflicts.
(received 12.02.2014 at http://www.colorado.edu/communication/meta-discourses/Theory/watzlawick/)
Read more about the development of Watzlawick`s ideas by Schulz von Thun here.
Cultural Aspects of Information Management in China (Abstract)
Chinese culture is a collectivist culture which stresses the interdependence and long-term mutual obligations between individuals and organizations. People are expected to follow group values and initiatives. As found in the study of western ecommerce diffusion in China, Chinese people prefer small group based operations with emphasis on long-term relationship, interorganizational collaboration and re-negotiation. Another ecommerce study also indicates that collectivist features like clubs, chat rooms and family themes have a higher percentage occurrence on Chinese websites than on US domestic websites.
Chinese collectivism, however, differs substantially from those prevailing in other Asian countries. They are individualistic collectivism where small group or family value is emphasized, rather than society oriented. In contrast to Japanese society, which may be considered as a block of granite, the Chinese resembles a tray of loose sand, where every grain is a family.
This opinion is consistent with the finding of Martinsons and Westwood (1997) that the Chinese power structure is perhaps best represented by a series of concentric circles or “family” with the patriarch in the center. The traditional family values are emphasized in this circle. The Chinese collectivism can be either an inhibitor or enabler of IS practices. Most information is gathered and processed in Chinese environment is intended to support the top managers of various small circles, which results in many independent systems and data that are hard to integrate or share. Such behaviors actually make Chinese collectivism a negative factor in ERP implementation. From above analysis, Chinese collectivism may be seen as individualistic collectivism.
Hierarchical Power Structure
Chinese management philosophy is characterized by centralized authorities as well as directive and hierarchical structures due to the long power distance and paternalistic tendency. The position of top management in Chinese business is overwhelming. No other champion is needed because such a champion would be seen as a challenge to the authority of top management, which often leads to power conflicts. And both top managers and lower level staffs are not comfortable with empowerment because they are accustomed to the practice that key decisions are made by top management. It is also natural that Chinese business leaders use their authorities to facilitate modifying subordinates behaviors in change management.
Unfortunately, Chinese top managers do not appear to realize the importance of IT and IT management. Consequently, they commit less on IT management. Problem arise when Chinese managers rarely accept knowledge input from their subordinates, and when the IT decisions by top management are seldom made with due consultation with end users This may be helpful to speed up IT decision and IT implementation, but such bureaucratic and arbitrary organizational culture is seen as one important cause of IT project failures.
The hierarchy management structure also helps to explain the correlation between power and information in China. Information control is one of the predominant sources of power in China. Critical information in China is selectively preserved instead of being distributed widely. Information is often treated as an individual property and critical information controlled by individual can be used to preserve discretionary power in Chinese organization. It is quite obvious in e-government practices in China where branches of government purposely hold back some information and obstruct large-scale information sharing in order to keep their power and interests.
Uncertainty tolerance is the extent a person feels comfortable in unstructured situations. It is commonly accepted that there are two different cultures, namely, uncertainty avoiding culture and uncertainty accepting culture.
The former tries to minimize uncertainly by taking strict laws and regulations, or risk control measures. The later tolerates ambiguous situation, and tries to live peacefully with it.
The majority of the studies, however, argue that the Chinese culture is uncertainty tolerant. Martinsons (1997) and Lam et al(2005) show that East Asians, especially Chinese people are more comfortable with unclear information. This corresponds with the informal communication path among Chinese that relies more on personal experience. They keep more information among themselves, rather than explicitly express it. It is common in China that you need to guess the “true” meaning of conversation beside the surface information, because Chinese people like to use allusion to tell something they think you should know and would understand.
Based on authors’ own understanding about uncertainty tolerance as native Chinese, the uncertainty avoidance mentioned in the literature is mainly because of the importance of information for the power, rather than unable to tolerate the uncertainty. So the idea that Chinese culture is uncertainty tolerant is supported. Contrary to the traditional thinking that Chinese people are more conservative in regard to change, the literature demonstrates that Chinese people’s attitude seems to be more positive toward change and towards new technology when they come to experience it.
Both Collis (1995) and Brown et al(1998) conclude that people from China hold more positive attitudes on change and new technologies than those from countries that they compare, namely, UK, US and Japan.
Intuitive Decision Making
The way that Chinese people make decisions or solve problems is relatively unstructured compared with westerners “the Chinese’s decisions are comparatively implicit, relying on analogical and correlative thinking, rather than on rational and analytic thinking”. Although Chinese managers refer to information or data to support decision making process, only a few data analysis is used even when deciding the most important issues.
The entrepreneurial model of strategy making that relies on personal knowledge and intuition rather than objective criteria or formal and quantitative method is dominant in Chinese decision making. Therefore, “the decision making process usually involves few people and takes short time to make”.
The decision making of Chinese people is also characterized to be highly contextual. Regulation and rules may play important role in directing the decision, but in most situations, Chinese people like to adopt “the individual-policy-for-individual-issue approach”, which means that the executors of rules usually can find some room for themselves to make flexible decisions.
Cultural Aspects of IS in China
Xiang-Hua Lu / School of Management, Fudan University
Michael S H Heng / National University of Singapore
Download the full pdf here.
The PACIS (Pacific Asia Conference on IT Systems) has tons of other interesting material and is worth a visit.
The I Ging – structure in East Asian Collectives (Natural Order)
This Matrix defines the Relationship Layer (Ranking/Relation) and the Appeal Layer (Distance/Approach). Still many Asian companies follow this structure.
Download an introduction to Hofstede`s theories as pdf here.
High Context Communication and Low Context Communication
The context gives additional information, which is necessary to encode the whole situation / background of a given information.
(retrieved 10.05.2014 at http://my.ilstu.edu/~jrbaldw/372/Values.htm)
An example for High Context Communication would be the question, where my (the editor’s) black pepper is. A high context information would be: above my micro-wave. Those people, who know me, my apartment and my kitchen can immediately find the pepper. Their context is to know who I am, where I live, where my kitchen is and where micro-wave. Without the context (additional information) there is not enough information to encrypt the proper meaning.
In high context communication an information can have different meanings according. It needs additional information to encode (understand). Speaking in examples is also a high context information.
- Less verbally explicit communication, less written/formal information
- More internalized understandings of what is communicated
- Multiple cross-cutting ties and intersections with others
- Long term relationships
- Strong boundaries- who is accepted as belonging vs who is considered an “outsider”
- Knowledge is situational, relational.
- Decisions and activities focus around personal face-to-face relationships, often around a central person who has authority.
(quoted from Culture at Work http://www.culture-at-work.com/highlow.html)
(retrieved 12.09.2013 at http://www.culture-at-work.com/highlow.html)
High Context Communication is also common in many Western countries
“The table sheds light on just how difficult it can be for a foreigner to understand what the British really mean when they’re speaking – especially for those take every word at face value. Phrases that prove the trickiest to decipher include ‘you must come for dinner’, which foreigners tend to take as a direct invitation, but is actually said out of politeness by many Britons and often does not result in an invite. The table also reveals that when a person from Britain begins a sentence “with the greatest respect …’, they actually mean ‘I think you are an idiot’.” (Alice Philipson in The Telegraph 02 Sep 2013)
|WHAT THE BRITISH SAY||WHAT THE BRITISH MEAN||WHAT FOREIGNERS UNDERSTAND|
|I hear what you say||I disagree and do not want to discuss it further||He accepts my point of view|
|With the greatest respect||You are an idiot||He is listening to me|
|That’s not bad||That’s good||That’s poor|
|That is a very brave proposal||You are insane||He thinks I have courage|
|Quite good||A bit disappointing||Quite good|
|I would suggest||Do it or be prepared to justify yourself||Think about the idea, but do what you like|
|Oh, incidentally/ by the way||The primary purpose of our discussion is||That is not very important|
|I was a bit disappointed that||I am annoyed that||It doesn’t really matter|
|Very interesting||That is clearly nonsense||They are impressed|
|I’ll bear it in mind||I’ve forgotten it already||They will probably do it|
|I’m sure it’s my fault||It’s your fault||Why do they think it was their fault?|
|You must come for dinner||It’s not an invitation, I’m just being polite||I will get an invitation soon|
|I almost agree||I don’t agree at all||He’s not far from agreement|
|I only have a few minor comments||Please rewrite completely||He has found a few typos|
|Could we consider some other options||I don’t like your idea||They have not yet decided|
(retrieved 30.09.2013 at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/10280244/Translation-table-explaining-the-truth-behind-British-politeness-becomes-internet-hit.html)
A good manual is an example of low context communication / information. No other information is necessary to understand it. In low context communication an information has only one single meaning. No additional information is necessary to encode (understand) the meaning.
- Rule oriented, people play by external rules
- More knowledge is codified public, external, and accessible.
- Sequencing, separation–of time, of space, of activities, of relationships
- More interpersonal connections of shorter duration
- Knowledge is more often transferable
- Task-centered. Decisions and activities focus around what needs to be done, division of responsibilities.
(received 10.05.2014 at http://www.culture-at-work.com/highlow.html)
High Context vs. Low Context
Take a look how members of high and low contextual cultures see themselves and their opposites:
|High Context Communication
||Low Context Communication
|High Context claims Low Context
||Low Context claims High Context
For an example how a low context culture interacts with a high context culture as the Chinese, please visit GlobThink: http://globthink.com/2009/06/24/indirect-communication-and-indirect-leadership-in-asia/ Unfortunately this link is broken / not existing anymore (reviewed 12.12.2012)
Applications of Hall`s Theories about the Context
Website Design in High and Low Context Cultures
|Parameter:||Tendency in HC Cultures||Tendency in LC Cultures|
|Animation||High use of animation, especially in connection with images of moving people||Lower use of animation, mainly reserved for highlighting effects e.g., of text|
|Promotion of values||Images promote values characteristic of collectivist societies||Images promote values characteristic of individualistic societies|
|Individuals separate or together with the product||Featured images depict products and merchandise in use by individuals||Images portray lifestyles of individuals, with or without a direct emphasis on the use of products or merchandise|
|Level of transparency||Links promote an exploratory approach to navigation on the website; process-oriented||Clear and redundant cues in connection with navigation on a website; goal-oriented|
|Linear vs. parallel navigation on the website||Many sidebars and menus, opening of new browser windows for each new page||Few sidebars and menus, constant opening in same browser window|
High Context Cultures
Low Context Cultures
(…) Meanwhile, it’s rolling out a new social media campaign, asking consumers to share favorite moments at the store, and it made a massive ad buy on Baidu, China’s main search engine, this weekend. The new togetherness message doesn’t mean China is phasing out global slogan “I’m Lovin’ It.”
“What we’ve done is give a layer of context to the ‘it’ — why are you lovin’ it?'” said Agatha Yap, senior marketing director for McDonald’s China.
(retrieved 21.05.2014 at http://adage.com/article/global-news/mcdonald-s-a-local-touch-chinese-store-decor/292702/)
M;rs. Martina Wuertz published “A Cross-Cultural Analysis of Websites from High-Context Cultures and Low-Context Culture“, which gives an interesting idea of applications of Hall`s model. Download pdf “Cross-Cultural Analysis of Websites from High-Context Cultures and Low-Context Culture” here.
For more info about website design in different cultures see how AM+A used Hofstede`s framework for analysing website design in different cultures/countries. Download pdf here or visit the website http://www.amanda.com
Monochrone / Polychrone Times
Western cultures intend to have a monochrone time (mono=single / chrone=time). Time is used as a single line, where all events are lined up. Asian and African cultures intend to have a polychrone conception of time (poly=different / chrone=time). Events happen simultaneously in a polychrone conception of time.
Dialogue – when two time systems collide
Mr. Paul Rosen is the international sales representative for his computer equipment company. His most recent trip takes him to China,where he is scheduled to meet with his Chinese counterpart, Patrick Chang.
Mr. Rosen and his training team arrived in Beijing three days ago for a scheduled appointment with Mr. Chang. However, Mr. Chang has not yet met with Mr. Rosen or his team. Finally, a call to Mr. Rosen’s hotel room indicates that Mr. Chang is prepared to meet with him. When Mr. Rosen arrives at the location, he is asked to wait outside Mr. Chang’s office. As he waits, he notices many people entering and leaving Mr. Chang’s office at a very quick pace. The hallways of this building are a hustle and bustle of activity, with people shuffling in and out of many rooms. Finally, after several hours, Mr. Rosen is called in to meet Mr. Chang.
Mr. Rosen: Ah, Mr. Chang, it’s so good to finally see you. Gosh, I’ve been waiting for days. Did you forget our appointment?
Mr. Chang: Hello, Mr. Rosen. Please sit down. Everything is fine?
Mr. Rosen: Actually no … (Phone rings) … the problem is …
Mr. Chang: Excuse me … (Takes the phone call and speaks in Chinese. After several minutes he concludes the phone conversation) Yes, now … everything is fine?
Mr. Rosen: Well, actually, I’ve got a small problem. You see, the computer equipment you ordered…(A staff person enters the room and hands Mr. Chang something to sign.)
Mr. Chang: Oh, excuse me… (signs the document) Yes, now, everything is fine?
Mr. Rosen: As I was saying … all of the computer equipment you ordered is just sitting on a ship at the dock. I need your help in getting it unloaded. I mean, it’s been there for two weeks!
Mr. Chang: I see … This is no problem.
Mr. Rosen: Well, if it sits in the heat much longer, it could be damaged. Could I get you to sign a worksgroups to have it unloaded by Friday?
Mr. Chang: There is no need for that. The job will get done.
Mr. Rosen: Well, could we set up some kind of deadline? You see, I have a staff of people here waiting to train your people on the equipment. I need to let them know when it will be ready. How about this Friday? Could we do it then? My people are here now, and they’re waiting to begin training.
Mr.Chang: Dont worry. We have been living quite well without those equipment for years. If necessary, we could wait for several weeks. That’s not the problem.
There is little chance that Mr. Chang will sign any kind of workgroups for Mr. Rosen. Mr. Rosen is also distressed by the constant interruptions. To Mr. Chang, Mr. Rosen is in too much of a hurry. Mr. Rosen is monochronic, whereas Mr. Chang operates from a polychronic time orientation.
Proxemics is the theory, that people from different cultures have different (imaginary) spaces around them. Link: http://www.edwardthall.com/
See more about E.T.Halls Concept of Personal Space at E. T. Hall – Proxemics (Understanding Personal Space)