‘So when you are communicateing via a letter or an e-mail then you just begin with the matter at hand. Like, you have not yet paid the bills, in the first sentence. The idea is to catch the attention of the reader. Then you go on to explain why, how and the rest of the story …..’
This is what me and my colleagues were taught during a communication training in The Netherlands.
Coming to the point
The Dutch phrase this type of communication as, Met de deur in huis vallen, which means, literary crashing in through the door and coming to the point.
According to Richard Lewis’s LMR model, this direct (low context) but polite behaviour is dominant in the English-speaking world – North America, Britain, Australia and New Zealand, and Northern Europe, including Scandinavia and Germanic countries.
‘Shockingly rude’ and ‘too blunt for people form countries where the culture demands an indirect manner (high context) of tackling an issue. Asian and Latin American culture for example would find it hard to swallow such rude, direct and confronting manner of communication.
Politeness above all
Cultural differences are no co-incidence, the differences in culture arise due to a specific preference in the manner of thinking , values and beliefs. Thus taking the time to communicate in an elaborate manner arises from the cultural value that believes that being polite and not hurting the other persons self-esteem outweighs all else like, the truth, or getting things done fast and to the point.
Low context verses High context
High context communication is used when something is implied and not mentioned. The key factor, the point is hidden. This method of communication does require that you, as listener, is aware and capable of filling in the blanks for yourself.
On the contrary, this manner of ‘beating around the bush’ before getting to the point can be confusing, annoying as well as frustrating to people who are not use to such type of culture and communication.
Culture begins by yourself
Being aware of such cultural differences can be an asset for people working with cultural diversity and between cultures. Since culture begins by yourself, it is important to be aware of your own cultural baggage as well. For example, are you from the culture where mincing ones words are of high value or the opposite?
Cross-cultural trainings provide soft skills that enables a person to bridge the gap between cultures and convert cultural handicap into cultural assets. Which could be of great value and use to individuals as well as companies with an intercultural workplace.