What Silence Communicates to Me and How My Culture’s Use of Silence Connect to Hall’s Cultural Patterns of Low and High Context
Silence is ranked among the best communication tools; moreover, silence is more powerful than the verbal communication. In fact, 93 percent of communication is nonverbal. Thus, we can clearly conclude that only 7 percent of communication is conducted through the use of voice, while the rest is conveyed through gestures, posture, and facial expressions. Actually, silence is a more powerful communication method than the usage of verbal means. For instance, most relationship has been broken through verbal communication, where the couple has wasted time arguing rather than listening to one another in order to exchange the ideas. Verbal communication often leads to a game, where each person wants to be heard; thus, verbal communication results in division rather than unity (Lustig & Koester, 1999, p.168). At this point, people tend to sit back and reflect on what has happened; silence is the key tool to achieving a noble agreement between the parties.
Actually, sometimes silence can be used as a punishment to our partners, a sign of dissatisfaction or anger, which can lead to more problems, when implemented with such a purpose. People feel safe, when they keep exchanging words. Nonetheless, people should not refuse from using one of the most efficient forms of communication due to bad implementation performed by others. I believe silence can help people to communicate more effectively, it enables them to hear the message of other people clearly, and the parties can reach a solution much faster thanks to the use of silence. Actually, the goal of every communication is to reach a consensus. Reaching a decision and sharing information is much easier to achieve by using silence; people are not trying to win the conversation but they try to listen and comment, when the noise is reduced (Lustig & Koester, 1999, p.173). Thus, communication does not have to be verbal in order to be successful. Being silent in the event, when the person should talk, creates a dysfunction, further separation and the division in the community. However, people create connection and progress in the society, when they use silence at the right time.
Our cultural use of silence is deeply connected to Hall’s cultural patterns. Hall’s cultural patterns relate to the choice of messages either high or low that a culture uses to communicate across or to the in-groups of cultures. In fact, high context cultures use fewer verbal methods to communicate. Such a culture is characterized by the explicit use of a few words needed to convey a message to the in-groups and less information to the outsiders because the culture needs to explain the rest. Moreover, the culture is characterized by long-term relationships, and strong family ties, which have been created for several generations; thus, the communication is more internalized to ensure understanding and the boundaries are well defined. Communication of high context cultures is directly connected to our cultural use of silence communication: the message is conveyed with only a few words and a greater amount of silence, which leaves the person communicating with his/ her inner self. The cultural ties and boundaries within the in-groups interpret the majority of the missing words. However, people in low context cultures utilize external rules, where the division of time and space influence most of the public understanding due to the lower level of interpersonal connection (Lustig & Koester, 1999, p.176). Low context culture needs more wording and explicit messages, where every word is crucial to the success of the communication. Actually, culture plays a minor role in defining the choice of words. The majority of the communication is between different cultures, not in groups. In this case, the application of silence should be minimal, while verbal communication should prevail. The society consists of people from both low and high context cultures; thus, there is a need to understand and implement communication in both types of cultures.
How Email and Other Methods of Internet Communication Will Affect the Development of Intercultural Relationships
Email and various methods of internet communication are generally referred to as new media. The methods of internet communication involve the use of new applications developed with the capability of utilizing the internet in order to send and receive messages through verbal communication, video calls and typed texts. New media will definitely affect the ways of development of intercultural relationships. Due to the advancement of new media, society and human interaction have been elevated to a complex highly interconnected level, while new media has challenging the existence of traditional intercultural communication at the same time. Moreover, new media has significantly influenced both the content and the form of messages/information. In addition, media has influenced the way people interpret messages and information thereby affecting the way people communicate, especially in an intercultural setting. The gap between innovations and traditions within a given culture has continued to widen intrinsically with the adoption of a new culture generated by new media. Actually, innovations and social traditions used to co-exist before new media emerged in a dynamically synchronized manner. However, the impact and speed of new media has brought about the inability of traditions to keep up with the speed of the modern cultural values generated by new media (Lustig & Koester, 1999, p.189). Such a cultural gap has made it difficult for the effective communication to take place among people, who share the same culture and come from different generations. In fact, the young generations are in deep relationship with the technological advancements, which widens the gap in communication and interaction between the children and their parents; thus, the proper guidance is missing. Extrinsically, new media has brought about communication discontinuities between the groups of differing ethnic and cultural beliefs.
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Actually, new media tends to be of fragmented nature. Such a nature has transformed the traditional cultural themes, cultural maps, and cultural grammar into modern patterns thereby dissolving the traditional cultural logic. The change in cultural patterns forces the members of a given culture to realign their methods of communication within their settings. Moreover, the change comes along with new methods of interaction and the members of different cultures have to learn new methods. The process and the outcome of interpersonal interaction have been greatly affected by the electronic exchange of information that has made the world a global village (Lustig & Koester, 1999, p.196).
New media has fostered the flexibility of information that is shared and presented through such platforms as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, MySpace and blogs. Therefore, new media will certainly affect the intercultural relationship negatively or positively because people from different parts of the world have been enabled to represent themselves in different ways. Actually, the development of intercultural relationships has been affected positively thanks to blogging that has boosted the intercultural communication competence among the participants. In addition to fostering intercultural relationship at a personal level, international communication platforms have also enabled the establishment of international relationships in business (Lustig & Koester, 1999, p.203). However, new media may negatively influence intercultural relationship. For example, people might reveal a lot of negative personal information about employers, friends and other people via blogs. Other platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have created an avenue for such criminals as pedophiles and conmen to promote their illegal actions. Moreover, unscrupulous business people use new media to promote their businesses to their advantage. Thus, the email and the rest of the social internet applications will continue to erode intercultural relationships every day. As the internet is the central support to all the new media, the children are able to access age-inappropriate materials, which lead to the advanced effects on future intercultural relations. Undeniably, technology brings many benefits to the society; however, the negative effects on cultural values should be given more attention.
Actions that People Can Take to Be More Intercultural Competent in Everyday Contexts
In fact, the understanding and the development of intercultural competency is critical to current societies. Intercultural competency is the most effective way to ensure that harmony is maintained and virulent problems are eliminated in the cultures. Hate speech, demonstration of prejudice and manifestation of discrimination have gained new extremist dimension. Such a situation has inflicted hatred among the cultures and developed misunderstanding among the people of different cultures and affiliations. Therefore, misunderstanding has demonstrated the urgency to develop such mechanisms, as universities that improve intercultural competence, in order to help people live happily together in diverse cultural environments.
Social episodes refer to a set of behaviors that shape and form a structure for social interaction. The interaction among different people, who share the same culture, is combined from their routine actions. In other words, social episodes represent the sequences of interactions that are repeated by a given group of people for many times thereby becoming a group norm. As a result of day-to-day routine, the individuals participating in the social episodes are able to define the outcomes of the actions performed by other people. In fact, the way people interact is often not dictated by the way they participate in social episodes or events that are routine. The repetitive participation in events makes the end results become very predictable (Lustig & Koester, 1999, p.212).
Social episode vary significantly in nature and context from one culture to another. However, irrespective of the cultural differences, some shared characteristics cut across basically all the social episodes. Actually, social episodes are generally made up of five main components that set their framework. The components represent social roles, interaction scenes, interaction contexts, cultural patterns, and the rules of interaction. The cultural patterns refer to a set of characteristics or related traits that describe and define a certain group of people. Moreover, the cultural patterns represent shared beliefs and judgments that define the right state of the world, its nature and the expectations about people’s behavior. The cultural patterns develop through the interpretation, perception, expression and response of a society to the surrounding environment. However, social roles represent non-verbally communicated and unwritten set of behaviors that people are expected to exhibit in particular positions, occasions, age and environmental settings. In fact, interaction scenes basically represent reoccurring and repetitive topics that characterize social conversations and are generally accepted by the group entangled by the same culture. The rules of interaction are the unwritten and unspoken ethics that define the way people interact with each other within a society, while upholding their dignity, respecting their space and maintaining peace (Lustig & Koester, 1999, p.219).
Finally, interaction contexts are the situations or settings, where social episodes take place. Any social episode affects people in various ways. The main reason is the difference in the cultural patterns and, hence, the difference in cultural values and beliefs. Such a situation is common, when people from different cultures are integrated in an intercultural episode. The difference in culture translates into differing understanding, interpretations and, consequently, different expectations of the same social episode. The reason for such a situation is the fact that a participant in an intercultural episode will naturally tend to be skewed towards his / her culture, when figuring out the meaning and the reason for events happening in the intercultural setting. As a result, misunderstanding maybe experienced in the interactions among people from different cultures. In addition, social episode may affect people from the same culture, as they are different in terms of age, social positions and religious beliefs. For example, an aged person will most likely not fit into a social episode of the younger generation (Lustig & Koester, 1999, p.224).