Speaking the Same Language, but Not Communicating

Americans, British, Germans, Israelis, and people from colder weather places like Scandinavia and Russia tend to be low context communicators. They also tend to value being on time and efficiency in meetings and business communications. High context cultures include Asian countries, Middle Eastern cultures, African, Polynesian and warmer countries anywhere. In these cultures, people understand much more than they say; body language, gestures and the speakers’ rank in relation to one another all provide a hidden context that may be a complete mystery to a foreigner.

Stranger in a Strange Land

In a typical day of running errands in Jacksonville, I’ll encounter workers who have come from all over the world: Vietnam, Africa, Europe, India, and South America. I have enormous admiration for someone who chooses to locate to another country and master language, culture and new job skills. I spoke recently to an American who chose to work outside the U.S. and master those same skills.