Cultural Differences Essay Example

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Cultural Differences

Cultural Differences


Organizations are made up of social beings that are meant to interact when undertaking certain activities. The mode of interaction depends on the issue at hand in such a way that it can be a formal one or a casual one. A formal interaction is meant for official purposes or business while an informal interaction is mainly meant for socializing and making friends. During the interaction, communication has to take place between two or more interacting parties. In communication, all parties have to understand the message sent across. Also, the message should be channeled through the appropriate channels using recommended formats. In an organization, communication can either be at an individual level between the personnel, between staff and customer or with another organization. Good communication techniques can strengthen a company as well as the relationship with parties outside the organization. For this case in point, an organization top management has received complaints from its customers. The customers allegedly receive poor treatment from the management and staff. The management has an opinion that such issue must have developed due to cultural differences or religious differences. This paper will discuss the areas in cultures that create a difference and how staff can deal with cultural differences to avoid sensitive customers.

Culture in most cases provides a source of identity for many individuals from different societies. This sense of identity that cultural aspects generate tends to indoctrinate and cement some traits that are culturally linked. However, some aspects of culture may differ from among cultures hence creating a challenge in communication and various forms of interaction. The differences occur regarding social structures, order and stability, social integration, communication, perception, value systems, motivation and social stratification. These aspects of culture can have an effect when it comes to intercultural communication.

Cultural differences in non-verbal communication

Communication can be effected in many ways either by verbal or non-verbal communication. Non-verbal communication can be by sign language was written or images that contain a certain message that another party understands and interprets accordingly. According to Rising and Carbonell (2006), body language is one important component of non-verbal communication as well as verbal communication. Culture can create a difference in how body language is used or interpreted. Body language may involve facial and arm gestures, touch and eye contact. Gestures may vary from one culture to another in such a way that a given gesture may have different interpretation across cultures. For instance, one culture might use a finger gesture to call someone yet such gesture is only used to call pets in other communities. Applying such, gesture may turn out to offend another person thus provoking anger and cutting communication links.

Eye contact is another gesture whose cultural opinion and perception varies across cultures. For instance, among most of the western cultures maintaining eye contact is highly regarded as one showing interest, attentiveness and respect. However, most of the Asian cultures decode the direct eye contact as a sign of disrespect especially in communication that involves individuals of different ages or sexes. Specifically direct contact between women and men can draw a series of misinterpretation. Other gestures such as touching or patting can be provocative in some cultures especially when there is a significant difference in age or sex (Rising & Carbonell, 2006). Gestures among communities may also vary in terms of the
design of handshakes, hugs and postures used when communicating. Different cultures are likely to interpret such gestures differently with some bearing the gestures, and others find the gestures insulting.

Order and Stability

According to Livesey & Lawson (2008), many cultures have specifications on how they expect individuals to behave when associating with other. Such variations are evident among cultures and religious affiliation. Different individuals from different cultural backgrounds end up interpreting certain behaviors differently. The inconsistency in this interpretation among cultures may be a source of discomfort or breakdown in communication. Different culture attaches some norms to regulate social interaction to maintain order and stability.

Value Systems

Different cultures affect different values to certain behaviors and characteristics. It may be discovered that some cultures can understand and comfortably accept sign language while some cultures may view such incidents as insulting. In addition, some cultures attach certain values and distance to cross-sexual interactions while others create no significant barriers among between individuals of different sexes. For instance, some of the Asian cultures have an established religion that prohibits handshakes among individuals of certain age groups bearing different sexes. It is the countrary to some cultures where handshakes are considered an important gesture that triggers effective communication (Livesey & Lawson, 2008).

Verbal communication

Among the systems that cultures attach strict value are communication and interaction systems. Different cultures definitely have different styles they apply for effect verbal communication. The difference is in not only the use of different languages in communication but also the aspect of tonal variation, loudness and speed of delivery (Rising & Carbonell, 2006). For instance, most of the Asian cultures often seem to adopt a high tone when communicating. Some cultures can perceive these as a quarreling tone even if the speaker is not quarreling. Some cultures treasure poetic languages and excellent tonal variation that may not necessarily apply to other cultures. Some cultures expect messages to be brief and straight to the point while others prefer in-depth explanation. An example of such cultural difference is between the western cultures that are considered low-context and the Eastern cultures that are considered high context (Quigxue, 2003). Especially in organizational situations, marketers may find a challenge in convincing different people from different cultures given that they also have a culture that internally dictates how they socialize.

Cross-Cultural Communication in Business

Communication is an essential component for the success of any business or organization. Effective communication ensures efficient flow of information enhances decision-making, encourages social interactions and consultation. Personnel within an organization should understand how to balance various tools and means of communication (Crossman, Crossman, Bordia, & Mills, 2011). According to Crossman, Crossman, Bordia, & Mills (2011), such balance will help addressing issues related to cultural diversity and inter-cultural communication, organizational communication and establishing the power of discourse in communication.

Organizations have to enhance its personnel understanding on the concept of cultural differences and effective communication. The organization personnel has to learn to be patient on how to create a balance that will ensure effective and comfortable communication style with customers or the organization’s partners.

According to Thomas, Kinast, & Machl (2010), there are basic rules that apply to intercultural communication. The personnel of the organization have to maintain a low profile while communicating to make the customers feel important. Praising the listeners and apologizing for any for a form of incompetence will make the customers feel even more respected. Also, personnel should avoid many instances of speaking up as well as maintaining minimal use of gestures to avoid offending the customers just in the case where gestures are misinterpreted (Thomas, Kinast, & Machl, 2010). Such competencies among the personnel can effectively be incorporated and indoctrinated to the personnel through continuous training and seminars. Personnel should also be trained on the psychological interpretation of certain moods that customers might have. Some customers might have a nasty mood that can increase aggressiveness. The personnel should also undergo intensive training on how to control emotional during daring situations like when insulted by a customer. Maintaining cool can often be challenging, but such values can slowly get into the culture of an organization. Also, communication within the organization should be enhanced. It is possible that some situations related to the customer complaint are a result of inefficient internal communication (Thomas, Kinast, & Machl, 2010). However, if communication is enhanced, cases can quickly get an audience of top management for strategic action before they get out of hand.


Communication, especially in an organization, is an essential component that can drive an organization to success or failure. However, communication may be challenging between people from different cultures. Cultural differences may create variations in how individuals perceive sign or gestures, verbal communication techniques such as tonal variation and value systems. Aspects such is body language may exhibit variations when interpreted across cultures. Organizations can like the one in question can overcome intercultural communication challenges through training and capacity building of personnel. Training should aim at improving personnel interpersonal skills and psychological interpretation of moods.


Crossman, J. B., Crossman, J., Bordia, S., & Mills, C. (2011). Business communication for the global age. North Ryde, NSW: McGraw-Hill.

Livesey, C., & Lawson, T. (2008). Culture and Identity. AS Sociology foe AQA. Retrieved on December 3rd, 2015 from

Quigxue, L. (2003). Understanding Different Cultural Patterns or Orientaion Betweeen East and West. Investigation Linguistics, Vol IX: Retrieved on December 3rd, 2015 from

Rising, B., & Carbonell, G. A. (2006). Culture and Communication. College of Management Georgia: Retrieved on December 3rd, 2015 from

Thomas, A., Kinast, E. U., & Machl, S. S. (2010). Handbook of Intercultural Communication and Cooperation: Basics and Areas of Application. London: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.