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Cross Cultural CommunicationPosted on October 19th, 2013 No commentsBy Meaghan Wallace When transitioning to a new culture, it is important to consider the way in which that culture typically expresses itself. Described as a spectrum, the ways in which different cultures express themselves would have Expressive on one end, Reserved on the other and Variable in the middle. Emotionally Expressive Cultures In an emotionally expressive culture, people are generally described as loud and open. They tend to have more physical contact than their more reserved counterparts and less personal space. It is generally easy to read how emotionally expressive people are feeling which can help to navigate communication once you have learned the signs. Regions which are typically described as emotionally expressive include Latin America, the Mediterranean, parts of Africa and the Middle East. Emotionally Reserved Cultures In an emotionally reserved culture, people are generally described as quiet and sometimes aloof. They tend to have less frequent physical contact, reserving anything more than a handshake for immediate family and close friends. It is generally difficult to read their emotions, which can leave their more expressive counterparts at a loss for how to navigate communication until they develop a close relationship. Regions which are typically described as emotionally reserved include Eastern Asia and Northern Europe. Variably Expressive Cultures A variably expressive culture will lie somewhere on the spectrum between expressive and reserved. People from these cultures will have developed their own cultural norms for expression and physical contact and research on these cultures will be key to your understanding of cues in communication. Regions which are typically described as variably expressive include North America, Australia, New Zealand and parts of Africa and Western Europe. When planning a transition to another culture, it is important first to take a close look at how your culture expresses itself and if you express yourself in this manner. Some questions to ask yourself are:
- What do you perceive as strengths of your style of expression?
- How do you interact with people who are more expressive than you?
- How is this different from how you express yourself with people who are less expressive than you?
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- Are they typically more or less expressive than you?
- How does this make you feel?
- Have you interacted on a regular basis with people from this culture before?
- How did those interactions go?