Erin Meyer

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    Communicating: low-context vs. high-context
    • Evaluating: direct negative feedback vs. indirect negative feedback
    • Persuading: principles-first vs. applications-first
    • Leading: egalitarian vs. hierarchical
    • Deciding: consensual vs. top-down
    • Trusting: task-based vs. relationship-based
    • Disagreeing: confrontational vs. avoids confrontation
    • Scheduling: linear-time vs. flexible-time
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    Now ask yourself a simple question. Is Spain task-based or relationship-based? If you are like most people, you would answer that Spain is relationship-based. But this answer is subtly, yet crucially, wrong. The correct answer is that, if you come from France, the United Kingdom, Sweden, the United States, or any other culture that falls to the left of Spain on the scale, then Spain is relationship-based in comparison to your own culture. However, if you come from India, Saudi Arabia, Angola, or China, then Spain is very task-based indeed—again, in comparison to your own culture
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    So cultural relativity is the key to understanding the impact of culture on human interactions. If an executive wants to build and manage global teams that can work together successfully, he needs to understand not just how people from his own culture experience people from various international cultures, but also how those international cultures perceive one another.
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    “Tell them what you are going to tell them, then tell them, then tell them what you’ve told them.” This is the philosophy of low-context communication in a nutshell.
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    The point here is that, when examining how people from different cultures relate to one another, what matters is not the absolute position of either culture on the scale but rather the relative position of the two cultures. It is this relative positioning that determines how people view one another.
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    Languages reflect the communication styles of the cultures that use those languages.
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    Tell them what you are going to tell them, then tell them, then tell them what you’ve told them.” This is the philosophy of low-context communication in a nutshell.
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    a high-context culture like Iran, it’s not necessary—indeed, it’s often inappropriate—to spell out certain messages too explicitly.
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    contrast, the United States, a country with a mere few hundred years of shared history, has been shaped by enormous inflows of immigrants from various countries around the world, all with different histories, different languages, and different backgrounds. Because they had little shared context, Americans learned quickly that if they wanted to pass a message, they had to make it as explicit and clear as possible, with little room for ambiguity and misunderstanding.
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    If you’re from a low-context culture, you may perceive a high-context communicator as secretive, lacking transparency, or unable to communicate effectively.
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