How Does Culture Affect Meaning and Communication

Topics: Cross-cultural communication, Culture, Geert Hofstede Pages: 8 (2284 words) Published: June 27, 2013
Assessment 1: Assignment – Essay
MAN302 Professional Communication
TITLE: How does cultural effect meaning and communication

Intro
Nowadays we live in what is considered a “global village”, over time we have collectively worked towards this end. The need and desire to create a closer global community is not only seen as a technological advantage but an economic benefit. The world as we know it gets smaller every day, thanks to a new generation of social media applications such as facebook or twitter, which links vast communities together; communities and cultures are no longer cut off or remote. Take facebook for example, it has over 1 billion users, if it were a country it would be the third largest by population. (www.imf.org/external/np/speeches/2013/012313.htm) Whether you live and work in remote Antarctica or bustling Hong Kong, technology and the studies of inter-culture communication ensures that people, governments and organizations can work effectively together in a harmonious and beneficial way. Naturally, this is an ideal situation, but as experience tells us, nothing is ever as simple.

This essay explores how cultural differences effect meaning and communication. In doing so it will look at the definition of culture, what it is, and how it affects meaning. Furthermore, it will look at the acclaimed Dutch researcher, Geert Hofstede’s four dimensions of corporate culture as a framework to define and categorize cultural differences. Finally, it will raise potential problems raised in the field of inter-cultural communications and provide suggestions to overcome them.

What is culture?
Currently there are over “7 billion human inhabitants living on this planet. Each of these earth dwellers comes from a specific culture. (geography.about.com/od/obtainpopulationdata/a/worldpopulation.htm) As the world becomes smaller, not physically, but by the use of new media and technology, as they traverse earth looking for new or better opportunities, so must they face the modern conundrum of understanding firstly, what is culture, and secondly, how the differences between cultures effect meaning and communications.

Without an understanding of different cultures, the potential for misunderstanding is high, with the ever-present possibility of a breakdown in relationships and opportunities. (Dostine, 2008, pg 58) text book suggests that all humans can be broadly defined by our culture. In essence, we are all born into a culture that over time has been passed down from previous generations, bestowing a rich history, significant culture defining traits such as its religion, its values and ethics, its ceremonies, rites and rituals, languages, customs, laws and business practices. Moreover, verbal and non-verbal communications practices that differ from one culture to the next. Therefore, suffice to say that the more we know about each other’s cultures the more effective our communication and co-habitation of the planet will be.

How does cultural effect meaning?
At the best of times, communication between individuals can be somewhat challenging. Add to that mix, communicating with people from another cultures and suddenly, the propensity for misunderstanding and in some cases offence can very easily take place as a result of the differences between the cultural backgrounds, understanding and meaning between the sender and receiver can be in stark contrast. This can be due to the increase in variables in the communication mix, therefore making global interaction more complex. Furthermore, people’s perception or way of thinking, hearing or seeing can vary quite extensively from one culture to the next.

It could be strongly argued that it would be highly advantageous for both parties to be aware of the differences and therefore the potential for problems that arise from inter-cultural communication. Nowadays, many multi-national organizations, governments and educators have training and...

References: About.Com 2013, Current world population. Viewed 6 June 2013
http://geography.about.com/od/obtainpopulationdata/a/worldpopulation.htm
Dostine, A 2008, Professional Communication: Unit Guide, Cengage, North Sydney, Australia
Geert Hofstede & Gert Jan Hofstede, Dimensions of national cultures. Viewed 3 June 2013
http://www.geerthofstede.nl/dimensions-of-national-cultures
Hansen C D & Lee Y, 2009 The cultural context of human resources development, Macmillan
Lagarde, C, 2013 International Monetary Fund (IMF) A new Global Economy for a new generation. Viewed 5 June 2013 http://www.imf.org/external/np/speeches/2013/012313.htm
The Economist 2008, Geert Hofstede. Viewed 5 June 2013
http://www.economist.com/node/12669307
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