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Verbal communicative behavior


As soon as the US culture according to Hofstede’s model is considered as an individualistic one, so according to Edward T. Hall it is a low-context culture and has low-context language. It means that communication is more verbal than non verbal.

Low context language relies on the literal and precise meaning of the words. People prefer explicit conversations where words convey the bulk of the entire message. Low-context cultures are logical, linear, individualistic, and action-oriented. It must also be said that solving a problem means lining up the facts and evaluating one after another. Decisions are based on fact rather than intuition. It is generally accepted that discussions end with actions. Needless to say that communicators are expected to be straightforward.

Also they use the direct verbal style. They believe that if you discuss everything, you can resolve the conflict, that it is better to say what needs to be said. The language is therefore used in a straightforward and precise way. For example, they learned to say “no” when it is necessary. To say “no” is normally not seen as impolite or offending, but it is even expected due to the value orientation on honesty and openness. Moreover, they use the linear verbal style and the exacting style. Communication is conducted in a straight line. There is a low reliance on context and a strong reliance on words.

Americans are direct. They value logic and linear thinking and expect people to speak clearly and in a straightforward manner. To them if you don’t “tell it how it is” you simply waste time, and time is money. Always speak clearly and be direct about what you want. Especially in a business setting, there doesn’t seem to be much patience for "beating around the bush". It is possible to be direct and tactful without coming across as harsh or crass. Also, it is important to be clear about what you are saying. If you seem to stumble on something (especially in more formal matters like a bank loan, or a speeding ticket), it will spark a series of more probing questions to make sure that you are not hiding anything.

Tone of voice should be pleasant and volume moderate. Be polite but direct. Americans generally do not view loud and emotional speech as being very appropriate—in any public setting, whether professional or private. They do value courtesy and directness—"get to the point", but don’t be rude about it. Americans generally try to be sensitive in difficult situations, but they do not like beating around the bush if there is a point to be made.

They are usually polite and friendly. But very often the Americans are stereotyped as the “ugly American” who, when abroad, demands in loud English to be understood. Although you may find examples of this stereotype, they will probably be few. It is true that Americans are often less inhibited socially than people from some other cultures. It is equally true that directness, or saying what one thinks, is acceptable behavior. Americans value honesty and frankness. They are generally not embarrassed or angered by being told they are wrong, as long as the criticism is stated in a friendly and respectful way. They would generally prefer an honest argument or refusal to polite but insincere agreement.

The definition of “rudeness” varies widely from one culture to another. Do not jump to hasty conclusions about the intention behind someone’s words or behavior that may seem very rude to you. Someone who tells you that you have done something wrong is probably trying to help you, not embarrass or hurt you.

Another aspect of verbal communication is the form of what is said. It is not polite to interrupt anybody. For Americans, when A stops, B starts.

A typical greeting is "Hi, how are you?" or, "How ’ya doing?". The typical and expected answer is "Good, thanks. How are you?" Whenever this question is asked among people who do not know each other personally, that is the expected response. The use of first names is very typical in the US. Most people operate on a first name basis, and do not use their titles in verbal dialogue.

You should not always wait to be introduced. While it is polite to introduce a newcomer, many Americans forget to make introductions, even in the corporate environment. In a small group you can take the initiative to introduce yourself, if it seems appropriate. In large groups it may be assumed either that you will introduce yourself, or that "everyone will get to know each other" over time. In a social setting, just saying hello with a wave of the hand is fine, especially if it is awkward to shake hands. Handshaking is appropriate for formal situations in major metropolitan areas but may not be in less formal contexts.

In general, Americans are fairly open, friendly, direct and not overly formal. At first meeting in a business setting the standard topics of conversation that are acceptable in Europe would apply in the US—likewise for social first encounters. If it is evident that someone has a spouse and/or children, these are safe (and often welcome!) topics of inquiry and discussion. Sports are generally a safe and popular topic of conversation and there are strong regional variations. Glancing through a local newspaper is an effective way to pick up on regional preferences. In university towns, there is usually a very strong following of the school’s sporting teams. Football in particular is a sport that is followed from the high-school level through university and into the professional leagues—this is particularly true in the Southern part of the United States, where players are prospected before they even get into high school (under the age of 14). In the top 10 big cities in the US, there are usually 2-5 professional sporting teams covering the "big sports": baseball, basketball, football and hockey. Golf is also a popular topic of conversation—playing the sport as much as following its stars. In the top 10 US cities there are also extensive "arts and entertainment" topics of conversation, from opera to theatre to museums. Discussion around politics is fine too—as long as it is not too specific or provocative around issues or specifics.

Topics to avoid during initial meetings: generally topics that are inflammatory, controversial, or bi- polar in nature: the death penalty, gay rights, abortion, civil rights, etc. Americans do not usually divulge how much money they make or how much they paid for certain things like a houses, car, etc.). It tends to be considered rude to ask and is even more uncomfortable to discuss.

If you are in the south, discussion about the civil war can be very interesting, as long as it is historical and based on curiosity—rendering an opinion about the "principles" and causes of the war is not a safe place to go during initial meetings. Until you know a person better, avoid the topics of religion, gay marriages and gun control; they can spark VERY heated discussion. Views on these two topics can range from indifferent to extreme, and it may not always be obvious where the person stands on these issues.

Humor in the US seems quite generic at first. Once you get to know a person better, they may reveal their more subtle forms of humor such as sarcasm. Quite a bit of the humor (especially among Generation X types) seems to be quite inclusive of pop culture. Also, due to the sensitivity to sexual harassment, humor involving sexual innuendos should be avoided, especially in places of work.

Communication in New York. New York has a bustling and large population – therefore you will be continuously coming into contact with many different people throughout the day. New Yorkers are very expressive people, but good manners and patience will benefit you. The basics of etiquette, like opening doors for people, saying “please” and “thank you” when the opportunity presents itself, and generally being helpful towards others is always appreciated.

You should never talk to anyone in a derogatory way, although speaking emotively is fairly common here. You should respect both authoritative figures and also those in customer service industries, such as hotel workers, cleaners, shop assistants and bar staff. As New York is a multicultural city, you may meet people of many different ethnic backgrounds, who speak a number of languages and may originally come from countries with many different cultures and traditions. These differences should be respected. The one universal rule of etiquette in New York is to never use offensive language, such as racist or sexist remarks. This sort of behavior can be taken very seriously, and may have some serious consequences. Remember that in New York, men and women are very much on equal footing, and ethnicity has no bearing on someone’s social and economic advantage.

Although the city can seem very crowded, you should always respect other people’s personal space. When queuing, do not push, shove, or stand looking over someone’s shoulder. Etiquette demands that men especially should give women personal space, especially when queuing or walking behind them.



Date: 2015-01-12; view: 1192

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