Communication Style and Cultural Features in High/Low Context Communication Cultures : a Case Study of Finland, Japan and India

5045 Words21 Pages
Communication Style and Cultural Features in High/Low Context Communication Cultures: A Case Study of Finland, Japan and India

Shoji Nishimura1, Anne Nevgi2 and Seppo Tella3
1 Waseda University, Japan
2 Department of Education, University of Helsinki
3 Department of Applied Sciences of Education, University of Helsinki

Abstract
People from different countries communicate in ways that often lead to misunder-standings. Our argument, based on Hall’s theory of high/low context cultures (1959, 1966, 1976, 1983), is that these differences are related to different communication cultures. We argue that Japan and Finland belong to high context cultures, while In-dia is closer to a low context culture with certain high context cultural features.
…show more content…
Cultural issues mean certain societal factors, such as the country’s status, history, religion and traditions. Cultural issues also include Hofstede’s (2008) individualism vs. collectivism dimension.

Communication style in a high vs. low context culture

In HC cultures, communication style is influenced by the closeness of human rela-tionships, well-structured social hierarchy, and strong behavioural norms (Kim et al., 1998, p. 512). In a high context (HC) culture, internal meaning is usually embedded deep in the information, so not everything is explicitly stated in writing or when spo-ken. In an HC culture, the listener is expected to be able to read “between the lines”, to understand the unsaid, thanks to his or her background knowledge. Hall (1976, p. 91) emphasised that “a high-context communication or message is one in which most of the information is either in the physical context or internalised in the person, while very little is in the coded, explicit, or transmitted part of the message”.

In an HC culture, people tend to speak one after another in a linear way, so the speaker is seldom interrupted. Communication is, according to Gudykunst and Ting-Toomey (1988), indirect, ambiguous, harmonious, reserved and understated. In an HC culture, communication involves more of the information in the physical context or internalised in the person; greater confidence is placed in the non-verbal aspects of communication than the verbal aspects (Hall,

More about Communication Style and Cultural Features in High/Low Context Communication Cultures : a Case Study of Finland, Japan and India

Get Access