Cross-Culture Communication

Since we’re living in a multi-cultured country, it is good to know what differences we are facing when communicating with people with different backgrounds. I actually would like to do more research about local cultures in Indonesia, but haven’t got a chance to do it. At the time being, let’s read about international issues. Adopted from wiki. Really interesting, though.

Following are further descriptions of the distinctive aspects of each of the 15 cultural groups videotaped. Certainly, conclusions of statistical significant differences between individual cultures cannot be drawn without larger sample sizes. But, the suggested cultural differences are worthwhile to consider briefly.

Japan. Consistent with most descriptions of Japanese negotiation behavior, the results of this analysis suggest their style of interaction is among the least aggressive (or most polite). Threats, commands, and warnings appear to be de-emphasized in favor of the more positive promises, recommendations, and commitments. Particularly indicative of their polite conversational style was their infrequent use of no and you and facial gazing, as well as more frequent silent periods.

Korea. Perhaps one of the more interesting aspects of the analysis is the contrast of the Asian styles of negotiations. Non-Asians often generalize about the Orient; the findings demonstrate, however, that this is a mistake. Korean negotiators used considerably more punishments and commands than did the Japanese. Koreans used the word no and interrupted more than three times as frequently as the Japanese. Moreover, no silent periods occurred between Korean negotiators.

China (Northern). The behaviors of the negotiators from Northern China (i.e., in and around Tianjin) were most remarkable in the emphasis on asking questions (34 percent). Indeed, 70 percent of the statements made by the Chinese negotiators were classified as information-exchange tactics. Other aspects of their behavior were quite similar to the Japanese, particularly the use of no and you and silent periods.

Taiwan. The behavior of the businesspeople in Taiwan was quite different from that in China and Japan but similar to that in Korea. The Chinese on Taiwan were exceptional in the time of facial gazing—on the average, almost 20 of 30 minutes. They asked fewer questions and provided more information (self-disclosures) than did any of the other Asian groups.

Russia. The Russians’ style was quite different from that of any other European group, and, indeed, was quite similar in many respects to the style of the Japanese. They used noand you infrequently and used the most silent periods of any group. Only the Japanese did less facial gazing, and only the Chinese asked a greater percentage of questions.

Israel. The behaviors of the Israeli negotiators were distinctive in three respects. As mentioned above, they used the lowest percentage of self-disclosures, apparently holding their cards relatively closely. Alternatively, they used by far the highest percentages of promises and recommendations, using these persuasive strategies unusually heavily. They were also at the end of the scale on the percentage of normative appeals at 5 percent with the most frequent reference to competitors’ offers. Perhaps most importantly the Israeli negotiators interrupted one another much more frequently than negotiators from any other group. Indeed, this important nonverbal behavior is most likely to blame for the “pushy” stereotype often used by Americans to describe their Israeli negotiation partners.

Germany. The behaviors of the Germans are difficult to characterize because they fell toward the center of almost all the continua. However, the Germans were exceptional in the high percentage of self-disclosures (47 percent) and the low percentage of questions (11 percent).

United Kingdom. The behaviors of the British negotiators were remarkably similar to those of the Americans in all respects. British people believe that most British negotiators have a strong sense of the right way to negotiate and the wrong. Protocol is of great importance. However, the “right way to negotiate” may be a completely different concept for people from different cultures. Some cultures may consider the British negotiation style as extremely cold and arrogant.

Spain. Diga is perhaps a good metaphor for the Spanish approach to negotiations evinced in our data. When you make a phone call in Madrid, the usual greeting on the other end is not hola (“hello”) but is, instead, diga (“speak”). It is not surprising, then, that the Spaniards in the videotaped negotiations likewise used the highest percentage of commands (17 percent) of any of the groups and gave comparatively little information (self-disclosures, only 34 percent). Moreover, they interrupted one another more frequently than any other group, and they used the terms no and you very frequently.

France. The style of the French negotiators was perhaps the most aggressive of all the groups. In particular, they used the highest percentage of threats and warnings (together, 8 percent). They also used interruptions, facial gazing, and no and you very frequently compared with the other groups, and one of the French negotiators touched his partner on the arm during the simulation.

Brazil. The Brazilian businesspeople, like the French and Spanish, were quite aggressive. They used the second-highest percentage of commands of all the groups. On average, the Brazilians said the word no 42 times, you 90 times, and touched one another on the arm about 5 times during 30 minutes of negotiation. Facial gazing was also high.

Mexico. The patterns of Mexican behavior in our negotiations are good reminders of the dangers of regional or language-group generalizations. Both verbal and nonverbal behaviors were quite different than those of their Latin American (Brazilian) or continental (Spanish) cousins. Indeed, Mexicans answer the telephone with the much less demanding bueno(short for “good day”). In many respects, the Mexican behavior was very similar to that of the negotiators from the United States.

French-Speaking Canada. The French-speaking Canadians behaved quite similarly to their continental cousins. Like the negotiators from France, they too used high percentages of threats and warnings, and even more interruptions and eye contact. Such an aggressive interaction style would not mix well with some of the more low-key styles of some of the Asian groups or with English speakers, including English-speaking Canadians.

English-Speaking Canada. The Canadians who speak English as their first language used the lowest percentage of aggressive persuasive tactics (threats, warnings, and punishments totaled only 1 percent) of all 15 groups. Perhaps, as communications researchers suggest, such stylistic differences are the seeds of interethnic discord as witnessed in Canada over the years. With respect to international negotiations, the English-speaking Canadians used noticeably more interruptions and no’s than negotiators from either of Canada’s major trading partners, the United States and Japan.

United States. Like the Germans and the British, the Americans fell in the middle of most continua. They did interrupt one another less frequently than all the others, but that was their sole distinction.

These differences across the cultures are quite complex, and this material by itself should not be used to predict the behaviors of foreign counterparts. Instead, great care should be taken with respect to the aforementioned dangers of stereotypes. The key here is to be aware of these kinds of differences so that the Japanese silence, the Brazilian “no, no, no…,” or the French threat are not misinterpreted.

In addition to the 15 cultures which have been discussed; below is an excerpt on negotiation approaches within the Mediterranean.

“The Mediterranean culture is altogether warmer.

Warm greetings and social aspects. Exuberant uses of postures and gestures. difficulty in pinning discussions down to particular deals or particular phases of negotiation.

In some regions, deals need to be ‘lubricated’. Indeed, this question of ‘lubrication’ is central to the cultures of some Mediterranean countries. It is seen as a normal practice and does not have the repulsive character of ‘bribery’.

The approach to negotiation in these cultures needs to retain the types of discipline we have been discussing; and yet to be conscious of the need for lubrication. Since no respectable western company would wish to be associated with the practice of bribery, the need is to secure a local agency and to ensure that that agency handles the lubrication.”


If we decide to do something, finish it well.

Ini mengenai judul blog ini. Perkataan ini sudah saya dengar sejak lama, tetapi baru benar-benar menyadarinya saat ini, dimana peluang untuk melakukan segala sesuatu semakin banyak.

Setiap hari kita dihadapkan pada banyak pilihan. Misalnya, pagi tadi saya keluar rumah setelah sarapan dan melihat kandang si Brian (dogi saya) yang selalu menghalangi lalu lintas parkir rumah. Garasi jadi sempit. Saya sudah lama berpikir untuk memindahkannya ke tempat lain, hanya baru pagi tadi saya kepikiran untuk benar-benar memindahkannya. Karena kebetulan tidak ada jadwal kuliah pada hari ini. Di saat yang sama, saya kepikiran satu proyek lagi yang masih belum selesai.

Saat itu saya dihadapkan pada 2 pilihan. Memindahkan si Brian, atau menyelesaikan proyek yang sebetulnya belum saya temukan solusinya. Akhirnya saya memutuskan untuk memindahkan si Brian, karena hari masih pagi, dan saya punya waktu. Tidak mudah untuk dilakukan sendirian, karena kandangnya dibuat custom-made dengan material yang berat dan besar. Dan lagi, bau karena jarang dibersihkan. Pekerjaan yang tadinya mudah ini seketika jadi lebih kompleks karena harus dibersihkan dulu. Saya tariklah kandang itu berdua dengan pegawai saya, dan ternyata rodanya sudah rusak. Muncul pemikiran untuk mem-pending pekerjaan ini karena semakin kompleks-nya detail pekerjaan. Tapi saya berpikir, kalau tidak hari ini, mungkin akan tertunda untuk waktu yang tidak terbatas, dan daftar pekerjaan yang ter-pending akan semakin banyak.

“Lanjut sajalah!” Saya pikir. Akhirnya saya semprot si Brian, eh, kandangnya maksudnya. Baju dan tangan jadi kotor (untungnya belum mandi). Setelah itu saya tarik dengan 2 tali derek karena mustahil untuk didorong dengan roda yang rusak (dan akhirnya meninggalkan jejak ban sepanjang jalan karena ban-nya mati). Sepanjang kira-kira 45 meter tanjakan. Dan lagi-lagi minta bantuan pegawai saya karena berat edan, sementara si Brian diikat di pagar (karena kalau dilepas pasti gigit orang). Dan akhirnya sampai pada tempat tujuan relokasi, yaitu tanah kosong di sebelah rumah.

Saya senang karena pekerjaan selesai. Kandangnya pun sudah dibersihkan, dan si Brian senang karena tempat mainnya jadi lebih besar. Satu pekerjaan bisa saya centang dalam memopad saya.

Contoh tadi cuma sebuah contoh kecil. Banyak hal yang lebih besar yang sebenarnya memiliki hikmah yang sama. Apabila kita sudah memutuskan untuk melakukan sesuatu, selesaikanlah. Selesaikan dengan baik. Kalau bisa, lebih dari ekspektasi awal. Tidak terpikirkan untuk mencuci kandang si Brian, tapi setelah masalah “kandang bau” muncul, maka ada 1 poin lebih untuk diselesaikan. Sehingga ketika pekerjaan selesai, yang kita lakukan sebenarnya lebih dari ekspektasi.

Ajaibnya, begitu menyelesaikan pekerjaan tadi, otak saya jadi lebih aktif bekerja. Menghasilkan ide-ide lain untuk pekerjaan yang lain. Begitu juga untuk proyek tadi yang yang belum ketemu solusinya, akhirnya muncul ide untuk itu. Dan sekarang solusi untuk itu sedang dalam pengerjaan.

Kalau Mario Teguh bisa komentar, pasti dia bilang: “Super sekali“.


“Kita berpikir pekerjaan seperti sebuah tetesan air di tengah samudera, tapi samudera akan berkurang karena ada setetes air yg hilang itu.” (Mother Theresa)

Aksi punya reaksi. Tidak ada satu hal pun yang kita lakukan yang tidak memiliki dampak. Bahkan ketika kita diam saja, waktu tetap berjalan, dan apa yang seharusnya kita dapatkan, akan terlewat begitu saja. Ini juga merupakan sebuah dampak.

Menabur angin, menuai badai. Setiap kita punya peran. Baik kecil atau besar, sebuah peristiwa akan timpang akibat tidak adanya peran itu. Lakukan apa yang harus kita lakukan sesuai peran kita. Jangan ingin melakukan peran orang lain. “Good at everything means master of nothing”.

Temukan apa yang jadi passion kita. Miliki kemampuan untuk membedakan yang mana yang bermanfaat, mana yang tidak.