Donal Carbaugh defines culture as "a system of expressive practices fraught withfeelings, a system of symbols, premises, rules, forms, and the domains and dimensionsof mutual meanings associated with these." He also suggests culture is "a learned set of shared interpretations about beliefs, values, and norms, which affect the behaviors of arelatively large group of people." In each of these definitions, culture is linked tocommunication and a wide range of human experience including feelings, identity, andmeaning-making. Communication is the vehicle by which meanings are conveyed,identity is composed and reinforced, and feelings are expressed. As we communicateusing different cultural habits and meaning systems, both conflict and harmony arepossible outcomes of any interaction.In today’s global business environment, more and more of us are required tounderstand people who come from countries and cultures different from our own.
Whilethere is no short and easy way to learn about a given culture in any depth, there aresome general principles that lead to success in communicating and conductingbusiness with people of backgrounds unlike our own.Communication across cultures effectively improves your productivity and efficiency andpromotes harmonious work environment. Cross-cultural communication involvesunderstanding cultural differences and overcoming language problem.
PROBLEMS OF CULTURAL DIFFERENCES:
Specifically, these problems are related to two kinds of cultural differences:
Differences in body positions and movements
Differences in views and practices concerning various factors of humanrelationships
(1) Body positions and movements
Body positions and movements differ among cultures. For example, in some cultures,people sit; in other cultures, they squat. Who is to say that sitting is more advanced or better? Manners of walking differ among cultures. Communication with body parts(hands, arms, head, etc.) varies by culture. Hand gestures differ by culture. So do eyemovements, touching and handshaking. Body motions or kinesics can be categorizedas follows: