Can body language, or non-verbal communication influence what is communicated? Do you “talk with your hands? What do you do with your hands while talking? Do you look people in the eye when you talk?”

QUESTION:Is your communication process influenced by your personal culture and how that may influence yourcommunication, including:Do you think you have an accent?Does where you were raised have an influence your communication?Special phrases, colloquialisms, slang, etc.Take a few minutes and see if you can identify characteristics in your written communication that may not bereadily understood by someone from a “different” culture.The text identifies three factors that can affect culture.TopographyAlthough the Internet age has reduced or even removed the physical characteristics of a particularregion, many idiosyncrasies persist that are particular to a specific areaThe region’s climate may be temperate – extremely warm or extremely cold – which will influencecommunicationHistoryEvents of history may have influenced the tone and meaning of communicationIs there a particular gender or class bias?ReligionReligious beliefs and denomination can have a somewhat invisible yet powerful in language,status and what is believed and/or rejectedCan body language, or non-verbal communication influence what is communicated?Do you “talk with your hands?What do you do with your hands while talking?Do you look people in the eye when you talk?”Do you tend to stare, or look at the ground?What about your handshake? Firm, wimpy, or what?The text also presents views and practices that can impact human relations.These views and practices, which may be very different from yours or mine:TimePresentation II 2/7/18, 08)04 Page 3 of 7In the US, time is something to be “managed”, and being “on time” is importantIn other cultures, time is more casual, more relaxed, the pace of communication is less formalSpaceIn some cultures, people stand close to each other that we may be used to in the US.Standing in line and waiting “your turn” is more prevalent in the USOdorsSome cultures are not as concerned about natural body odorsAlso, some cultures believe that that one’s breath is a natural part of communicationFranknessNot all cultures are as frank as in the US. “Speaking one’s mind” is seen as something natural.“Saving face” – not being seen as “wrong” – is of critical importance to some culturesSocial hierarchyA person’s class is extremely critical in many cultures, though hot very important in the USCertain information is not considered available when there’s a perceived difference in class.In our country, a person’s race, religion, and gender can sometimes get in the way of effectivecommunication – when talking “down’ to someone is something to be eliminatedWorkplace valuesOur country tends to follow what’s called Protestant Work ethic, emphasizing hard work on the roadto successIt can be counter productive to assume that everyone looks at “work” in the same wayExpression of emotionsThere are some major differences between cultures concerning the expression of emotionsEverything from laughing, using crude expressions, speaking with passion or emotion are just a fewdifferences that can influence the effectiveness of communicationThe text presents more information about the danger coming from cultural insensitivity, as it states,“One of the most sensitive issues in cross-cultural communication is the extent to which generalizingabout a culture perpetuates”Do you ever stereotype? Of course you do, as do I. The key to increasing the efficiency of yourcommunication is to identify and recognize our bias, and not let it crush the validity of another person’smessage.The text goes on to ask, what is meant by “adapt your English to your audience”?Write or talk simply and clearlyDon’t get too fancy with the words you use, especially with BIG words (don’t try to impress, focus onlistener understanding)Carefully word your questionsPresentation II 2/7/18, 08)04 Page 4 of 7Make sure you frame your questions carefully, ones that favor “open questions” – ones that don’tfavor yes or no answersConfirm understandingAsking if someone understands your question is keyDon’t assume – confirmThe text provides an excellent overview of what’s labeled as Low-Context culture or High-Context cultureLow-Context cultureTend to express themselves in concrete, direct and explicit waysA straightforward approach is valued, forthright – nothing sneaky or impliedHigh-Context cultureThis context tends to emphasize a more physical approach; eye movements, the tone of voice,expecting the receiver to interpret what’s not actually communicated in words, etc.One final note: culture can be of value in adding richness to one’s communication. Problems can occurwhen cultural differences become obstacles to ensuring clarity on the part of the sender of the message,and understanding on the part of the receiver.Chapter ThreeWe’ll be considering the types, channels, and differences with the communication that takes place in abusiness setting.Learning ObjectivesUpon completing this chapter, you will be able to adapt your language to specific readers and to select themost effective words for your communication purpose. To reach this goal, you should be able to:1. Explain the role of adaptation in selecting words that communicate.2. Simplify writing by selecting familiar and short words.3. Use slang and popular clichés with caution.4. Use technical words and acronyms appropriately.Presentation II 2/7/18, 08)04 Page 5 of 75. Use concrete, specific words with the right shades of meaning.6. Avoid misusing similar words and use idioms correctly.7. Use active verbs.8. Use words that do not discriminate.We all have a bias or two, created by our culture, our geography, our family of origin, and the environment inwhich we were raised. There’s nothing wrong with having a bias or two – as long as you strive to recognizewhat they are, and you are aware when you consciously discriminate.Word SelectionThe text provides some suggestions for selecting words. They include use familiar words, limiting words thatare not understood by everyone or are colloquialisms.You should prefer short words, rather than try to impress with lofty phrases.Use slang and popular clichés with caution, and use technical words and acronyms appropriately.Use precise language, and get to the point. In that vein, select words for appropriate usage, recognizing thatthere are geographical and nationality concerns.Prefer active verbs that communicate affirmative and absolute meaning.By all means avoid overuse of camouflaged verbs, such as using a verb as a noun.For example, instead of “an arrangement was made to meet for breakfast, you should say, “we arranged tomeet”, or instead of “Control of the water was not possible,” you should say, “They could not control thewater.”Nowadays we recognize the phrase PC, or politically correct. This is especially true in businesscommunication as we strive to use “general-neutral” words, being especially careful to not use words thatdiscriminate by gender.The text goes on to say that the most troublesome words are he/his/him when you are referring to bothsexes.Presentation II 2/7/18, 08)04 Page 6 of 7You can avoid this conundrum, as follows: reword the sentence to eliminate the offending word, another is tomake the reference plural, and finally substitute gender-neutral terms – “he or she”, he/she, and s/he.Stereotyping can occur when the writer is not cognizant of any one of the following:Race, Nationality or Sexual orientationUse common sense when faced with focusing on differences on the part of the recipient of the messageBy AgeThe group is often ignored as one that may be the subject of discrimination – especially as thepopulation is continuing to ageBy DisabilityDisabilities come in many forms, and it is not always evident – it can include disabilities that are notphysical but mental or emotionalThese categories of stereotyping are often beyond one’s awareness and it’s incumbent upon us to be extradiligent when responsible for communication in the business world. Once an organization is identified as onethat overtly discriminates, it’s hard to overcome that label.Generational influencesWhat is your generation label, and in what ways might your generation influence how you communicate –read, write, speak and listen? There are several definitions given to different “generations” but in generalthey are defined as follows:Generation Z Born after 1994Millennial Generation Born between 1977 and 1994Generation Y Born between 1977and 1989Generation X Born between 1965 and 1976Boomer Generation Born between 1945 and 1964Depression/Traditional Generation Born before 1945Generational influences on communication are usually hidden, as the words or phrases used seem to becommon to everybody. Each year new words are added to dictionaries due to the increase of new ways ofsaying things.It’s helpful to be aware of phrases, terminology or slang that identifies with a particular generation. Thepublic is quick to label certain types of “generation speak” as they make buying or selling decisions.(The site Teaching Across Generations (
, while focusing on education, provides an excellentcomprehensive overview of this subject.)Presentation II 2/7/18, 08)04 Page 7 of 7

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