Impact of High Context and Low Context Cultures on Communication
Dear Mr. Alfred, here is the report you asked for about the effect of high context cultures and low context cultures on the communication and interaction among the individuals. Undoubtedly, there is a huge impact of cultural differences on the communication process and in this regard, it is important for the people to know about the cultural behavior of the members of the society. The information about the low and high context cultures gives important information about the type of people and their cultural practices, which makes it easier for others to interact with them. The cultural differences are sometimes considered as a huge barrier to effective communication because of the differences in the cultural practices and linguistic differences. In this regard, it is wise to get knowledge about different cultures, and for this purpose, this memo has been represented to you.
It has been witnessed that the terms high context and low context are used in order to describe the cultural differences among the societies.
Within the high context cultures, the society or the people have close as well as strong relations and connections with each other that last for a long time. In this type of context, the cultural behavior must not have to be made explicit because the people know about the cultural behaviors of each other due to the long term interaction. An easiest example of a high context environment can be your own family .
On the other hand, the low context includes the groups or societies where the members have a lot of connections but for a shorter period of time. These connections are majorly due to any specific objective or reason, and ends right after the objective has been accomplished. In such contexts, the members have to make their cultural behaviors explicit because the other members need to know how to behave accordingly
Characteristics of High Context
Implicit verbal communication
Less written or formal information
Internalized understanding of communication among the members
a number of cross-cutting ties among people
Strong and long lasting relationships
determined boundaries about who is belonging and who is an outsider
Decisions are preferred to be made face-to-face or a central authority makes the decisions
Examples of High Context
Small religious gatherings, party with close friends, family functions, dining out with family or friends, and sleep over at friend’s place, etc.
Characteristics of Low Context
People behave according to rules
Preference is given to knowledge sharing and transfer
Relationships do not last longer
On purpose relationships
The decisions are made by emphasizing on the needs of the situation, and the decision making responsibility is divided among members
Examples of Low Context
A supermarket, a café, a gym, an airport, or a hotel, etc.
It has been witnessed that all the societies are a mix of both low and high contexts as a number of members have different objectives of interacting with others. It is not much important to mention whether a person belongs to a high context or a low context, but the important thing is to become able to understand a specific situation and responding to it accordingly.
Following are some of the recommendations that can help in reducing the communication barriers due to cultural differences:
Exposing and telling about the cultural practices to others
Understanding the importance of cultural diversity
Dealing with tolerance
Respecting other cultures
Understanding the cultural practices in order to avoid any kind of conflict
Increasing self-awareness about other cultures
Attending workshops to know the basics of other languages used by the members
Finally, it can be said that the high and low contexts impact the process or communication among the members because in high contexts, the purpose is to build relationships and make them last longer. On the other hand, in the low context cultures like United States, the emphasis is on the transfer or exchange of communication. Apart from this, while making the decisions in the high context cultures, the aim is to protect the relationships, but in the low context cultures, the major focus is on the outcome of the decisions. In the end, it can be said that the communication tactics that work well for a high context culture may fail in the low context culture and vice versa.
Lastly, I would like to thank Mr. Oluwole for helping me out and guiding me throughout this work. I am hopeful that you will like my explanation regarding the different cultures and their impact on communication. In case you have any questions, feel free to contact me.
High and Low Context. (2003). Retrieved July 2015, from http://www.culture-at-work.com/highlow.html
Krizan, Merrier, P., Logan, J. P., & Williams, K. S. (2010). Business Communication. Cengage Learning.
Marin.edu. (2015). High-context and Low-context Culture Styles. Retrieved July 2015, from http://www.marin.edu/buscom/index_files/Page605.htm
Samovar, L., Porter, R., & McDaniel, E. (2009). Communication Between Cultures. Cengage Learning.