Cultural Communications Standards

Written by Jesse

Topics: Uncategorized

If you have military experience, college, or sufficient time in corporate America, Europe, Australia, or New Zealand you will have learned that the responsibility for ensuring clear communications rest with the presenter. Responsibility that the information being presented is heard, understood and if appropriate agreed to, rest with the person presenting the information or agreement.  This however is not the standard in many parts of the world, including Latin America and Asia. Knowing this and other communications standards that are contrary to what is the norm in more Anglo countries will go a long way in saving you from many misunderstandings.

First, there will be no solicitation of feedback. Here in Chile this is referred to as ‘silencio otorga’; silence is assent or agreement. It is possible for someone to present information and not solicit feedback or ask any questions to ensure you understood, and even if you did not hear them, it will be assumed that you heard, understood and possibly agreed to what was being said. They had an exception that your were listening or able to hear and without objection from you, any later misunderstanding that arises from this are your fault.

Open ended ideas. We actually have this in English but the fault of misunderstanding rest with the presenter again and not with the one receiving the idea; again, this is not the case elsewhere. Example: your boss says, ‘Give me that thing.’ If you don’t object and select the wrong thing that was one of the several selectable ‘things’; you are wrong. Blame for this misunderstanding is on you.

Understanding the cultural norm for acknowledgment and agreement will go a long way to saving you much headache when doing business, living or simply traveling abroad.

2 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Megan says:

    Short, sweet, and super helpful! Even though I don’t do any international work on a day-to-day business, this really helps me to understand some of the communications barriers with individuals I work with that grew up in other cultures.

    Thanks!

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