Is your communication process influenced by your personal culture and how that may influence your
Do you think you have an accent?
Does where you were raised have an influence your communication?
Special phrases, colloquialisms, slang, etc.
Take a few minutes and see if you can identify characteristics in your written communication that may not be
readily understood by someone from a “different” culture.
The text identifies three factors that can affect culture.
Although the Internet age has reduced or even removed the physical characteristics of a particular
region, many idiosyncrasies persist that are particular to a specific area
The region’s climate may be temperate – extremely warm or extremely cold – which will influence
Events of history may have influenced the tone and meaning of communication
Is there a particular gender or class bias?
Religious beliefs and denomination can have a somewhat invisible yet powerful in language,
status and what is believed and/or rejected
Can body language, or non-verbal communication influence what is communicated?
Do you “talk with your hands?
What do you do with your hands while talking?
Do you look people in the eye when you talk?”
Do you tend to stare, or look at the ground?
What about your handshake? Firm, wimpy, or what?
The text also presents views and practices that can impact human relations.
These views and practices, which may be very different from yours or mine:
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In the US, time is something to be “managed”, and being “on time” is important
In other cultures, time is more casual, more relaxed, the pace of communication is less formal
In some cultures, people stand close to each other that we may be used to in the US.
Standing in line and waiting “your turn” is more prevalent in the US
Some cultures are not as concerned about natural body odors
Also, some cultures believe that that one’s breath is a natural part of communication
Not all cultures are as frank as in the US. “Speaking one’s mind” is seen as something natural.
“Saving face” – not being seen as “wrong” – is of critical importance to some cultures
A person’s class is extremely critical in many cultures, though hot very important in the US
Certain information is not considered available when there’s a perceived difference in class.
In our country, a person’s race, religion, and gender can sometimes get in the way of effective
communication – when talking “down’ to someone is something to be eliminated
Our country tends to follow what’s called Protestant Work ethic, emphasizing hard work on the road
It can be counter productive to assume that everyone looks at “work” in the same way
Expression of emotions
There are some major differences between cultures concerning the expression of emotions
Everything from laughing, using crude expressions, speaking with passion or emotion are just a few
differences that can influence the effectiveness of communication
The text presents more information about the danger coming from cultural insensitivity, as it states,
“One of the most sensitive issues in cross-cultural communication is the extent to which generalizing
about a culture perpetuates”
Do you ever stereotype? Of course you do, as do I. The key to increasing the efficiency of your
communication is to identify and recognize our bias, and not let it crush the validity of another person’s
The text goes on to ask, what is meant by “adapt your English to your audience”?
Write or talk simply and clearly
Don’t get too fancy with the words you use, especially with BIG words (don’t try to impress, focus on
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Make sure you frame your questions carefully, ones that favor “open questions” – ones that don’t
favor yes or no answers
Asking if someone understands your question is key
Don’t assume – confirm
The text provides an excellent overview of what’s labeled as Low-Context culture or High-Context culture
Tend to express themselves in concrete, direct and explicit ways
A straightforward approach is valued, forthright – nothing sneaky or implied
This context tends to emphasize a more physical approach; eye movements, the tone of voice,
expecting the receiver to interpret what’s not actually communicated in words, etc.
One final note: culture can be of value in adding richness to one’s communication. Problems can occur
when cultural differences become obstacles to ensuring clarity on the part of the sender of the message,
and understanding on the part of the receiver.
We’ll be considering the types, channels, and differences with the communication that takes place in a
Upon completing this chapter, you will be able to adapt your language to specific readers and to select the
most effective words for your communication purpose. To reach this goal, you should be able to:
1. Explain the role of adaptation in selecting words that communicate.
2. Simplify writing by selecting familiar and short words.
3. Use slang and popular clichés with caution.
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5. Use concrete, specific words with the right shades of meaning.
6. Avoid misusing similar words and use idioms correctly.
7. Use active verbs.
8. Use words that do not discriminate.
We all have a bias or two, created by our culture, our geography, our family of origin, and the environment in
which we were raised. There’s nothing wrong with having a bias or two – as long as you strive to recognize
what they are, and you are aware when you consciously discriminate.
The text provides some suggestions for selecting words. They include use familiar words, limiting words that
are not understood by everyone or are colloquialisms.
You should prefer short words, rather than try to impress with lofty phrases.
Use slang and popular clichés with caution, and use technical words and acronyms appropriately.
Use precise language, and get to the point. In that vein, select words for appropriate usage, recognizing that
there are geographical and nationality concerns.
Prefer active verbs that communicate affirmative and absolute meaning.
By all means avoid overuse of camouflaged verbs, such as using a verb as a noun.
For example, instead of “an arrangement was made to meet for breakfast, you should say, “we arranged to
meet”, or instead of “Control of the water was not possible,” you should say, “They could not control the
Nowadays we recognize the phrase PC, or politically correct. This is especially true in business
communication as we strive to use “general-neutral” words, being especially careful to not use words that
discriminate by gender.
The text goes on to say that the most troublesome words are he/his/him when you are referring to both
sexes.Presentation II 2/7/18, 08)04
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You can avoid this conundrum, as follows: reword the sentence to eliminate the offending word, another is to
make the reference plural, and finally substitute gender-neutral terms – “he or she”, he/she, and s/he.
Stereotyping can occur when the writer is not cognizant of any one of the following:
Race, Nationality or Sexual orientation
Use common sense when faced with focusing on differences on the part of the recipient of the message
The group is often ignored as one that may be the subject of discrimination – especially as the
population is continuing to age
Disabilities come in many forms, and it is not always evident – it can include disabilities that are not
physical but mental or emotional
These categories of stereotyping are often beyond one’s awareness and it’s incumbent upon us to be extra
diligent when responsible for communication in the business world. Once an organization is identified as one
that overtly discriminates, it’s hard to overcome that label.
What is your generation label, and in what ways might your generation influence how you communicate –
read, write, speak and listen? There are several definitions given to different “generations” but in general
they are defined as follows:
Generation Z Born after 1994
Millennial Generation Born between 1977 and 1994
Generation Y Born between 1977and 1989
Generation X Born between 1965 and 1976
Boomer Generation Born between 1945 and 1964
Depression/Traditional Generation Born before 1945
Generational influences on communication are usually hidden, as the words or phrases used seem to be
common to everybody. Each year new words are added to dictionaries due to the increase of new ways of
It’s helpful to be aware of phrases, terminology or slang that identifies with a particular generation. The
public is quick to label certain types of “generation speak” as they make buying or selling decisions.
(The site Teaching Across Generations (http://www.aacom.org/docs/default-source/2016-AnnualConference/teaching_across_generations.pdf?sfvrsn=2)
, while focusing on education, provides an excellent
comprehensive overview of this subject.)Presentation II 2/7/18, 08)04
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