What Is Low Context Culture

Communicating in High Context vs. Low Context Cultures

The manner in which individuals interact with one another varies greatly from culture to culture. The need of understanding these disparities and their origins has never been greater than it is now, in our totally globalized world. One approach to gaining such an insight is through the use of the high and low context culture framework, which was established by anthropologist Edward T. Hall and is described below. Hall argued in 1976 that cultures may be split into two categories: those with a high context and those with a low context.

What are the differences?

The distinction between high and low context cultures is intended to draw attention to the variations in verbal and nonverbal communication styles among people. Highly contextual cultures will employ communication that is concerned with the underlying context, meaning and tone of the message rather than the actual words themselves. Japan, China, France, Spain, Brazil, and a number of other countries fall within this classification. Low-context cultures, on the other hand, demand messages to be precisely expressed so that there is no danger of confusion, and if a message isn’t clear enough, it will cause the communication process to be slowed down.

Cultures in the Western world, such as the United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States, are among those that engage in low-context communication.

High Context vs. Low Context Culture Characteristics

Cultures are rarely able to be categorised into either high or low contexts in a strict sense. Most cultures lay somewhere in the middle of the range, and they can exhibit features of both high and low context traits to varied degrees in different situations. Although the degree to which a culture has high context or low context can be a complicated quality, it can influence a wide range of other elements of a particular culture. For example, resemblance is a significant trait in cultures with a high level of context.

Messages can be contextualized by assuming that the audience would think in the same manner and will follow the underlying meaning implied in someone’s speech or writing as a result of these common experiences.

They are frequently diversified in nature, and they place a strong emphasis on the individual rather than the collective.

Forms of Communication

Communication in general differs between high and low context cultures, and the styles of communication, as well as the sorts of media that they choose, varies as well. Despite the fact that these forms can change in today’s fast-paced digital world, fundamental inclinations remain constant. In general, oral communications are preferred by high-context societies, whereas written communications are preferred by low-context ones.

Those from low-context cultures rely on electronic communication to communicate quickly and frequently through emails, texts, and online messaging. Low-context cultures also prefer that these conversations center around fundamental topics, such as, for example,

  • What exactly is going on
  • What is the location of the action
  • When is it going to happen
  • How is it going to happen
  • What is the timeline?

It is true that high-context societies will inevitably shift their emphasis away from fundamental inquiries and toward lengthier modes of communication that are less focused on them.

Communicating in International Business

In order to communicate effectively and avoid making embarrassing or offensive blunders, it is essential for a multinational firm to understand the differences between high and low context cultures. Having a thorough awareness of these distinctions will help you to improve both external, client-focused communication as well as inter-organizational connections significantly. Will your attempts to be succinct and to the point be appreciated by a Japanese company? Is it possible that a German corporation may grow bored if you speak around a problem rather than immediately address it?

Explore the rest of our blog for additional information about global communication techniques.

High and Low Context

It goes without saying that it is critical for a global firm to understand the differences between high and low context cultures in order to communicate effectively and avoid making embarrassing or offensive errors. Having a thorough awareness of these distinctions will help you to enhance both external, client-focused communication as well as inter-organizational connections dramatically. Your attempts to be succinct and direct will be appreciated by a Japanese corporation. Is it possible that a German corporation may grow bored if you speak around a problem rather than address it directly?

Explore the rest of our blog for further information about global communication techniques.

High Context

  • Less vocally clear communication, and less written/formal information are being provided. internalization of what is communicated
  • Increased internalization of what is communicated There are several cross-cutting relationships and interactions with other people
  • Relationships that last a lifetime
  • The establishment of clear borders between those who are acknowledged as belonging and those who are deemed “outsiders.” Knowledge is contextual and relational in nature. Decisions and activities are centered on personal face-to-face interactions, which are frequently centered on a central individual who wields power.

Intimate religious congregations, a get-together with friends, family get-togethers, expensive gourmet restaurants and neighborhood restaurants with a regular clientele, undergraduate friendships on campus, regular pick-up games, and hosting a friend in your home for the night are all examples of what you can do to relax.

Low Context
  • People who are rule-oriented and who play by the rules set by others
  • More knowledge is formalized, made public, shared with others, and made easily available. Sequencing and separation—of time, space, activities, and interpersonal interactions
  • Increasing the number of interpersonal contacts of shorter length
  • Knowledge is more easily transferrable than most people think. Task-centered. Decisions and actions are centered on what has to be done, as well as the distribution of responsibility.

Large US airports, a chain supermarket, a restaurant, a convenience shop, sports where the rules are clearly spelled down, and a hotel are all examples of what you may find in the United States. While these labels can be useful in characterizing some features of a culture, it is impossible to categorize a culture as either “high” or “low” because all cultures incorporate elements of both modes. As a result, the terms “high” and “low” are less applicable as general descriptions of people, and are more effective for describing and understanding specific circumstances and settings.

Ways that High and Low Context Differ

  • Dense, overlapping networks and long-term ties, firm boundaries, and the importance of the relationship over the job
  • Tight, broad networks, shorter-term, segmented ties, with the job taking precedence over the relationship

  • More information exists below the surface of the water – implicit, unconsciously repeated patterns that are difficult to describe even if you are a member of that culture
  • Explicit and purposefully arranged knowledge is found above the waterline than below it.

Entering High and Low Context Situations

Externals may have difficulty navigating high contexts (since you do not carry the context knowledge internally, and because you are unable to immediately establish close associations). Low contexts are quite easy to enter if you are not familiar with the situation (because the environment contains much of the information you need to participate, and because can you form relationships fairly soon, and because the important thing is accomplishing a task rather than feeling your way into a relationship).

The inner high context core of a scenario is frequently separated from the outside low context ring, which is reserved for individuals who are less involved.

It is also generally very obvious how to participate in the meetings, such as by bringing a child to the meeting.

They may “agree” on what should be discussed or what should take place without ever actually discussing it; they may have unconscious, unexpressed values that impact their decisions without ever realizing it.

Other parents who are not involved in the decision-making process may be perplexed as to how decisions are made. So while the PTA is still considered low context, it does have a high context subgroup that is also a member of a high context small town culture.

When you enter a high context situation, it doesn’t immediately become a low context culture just because you came in the door!It is still a high context culture and you are just (alas), ignorant.Also, even low context cultures can be difficult to learn: religious dietary laws, medical training, written language all take years to understand. The point is that that information has been made conscious, systematic, and available to those who have the resources to learn it.

High Context and Low Context Cultures

Externals may have difficulty navigating high contexts (since you do not carry the context knowledge internally, and because you are unable to immediately build intimate ties with those in the context.) If you are an outsider, low contexts are quite simple to enter (because the environment contains much of the information you need to participate, and because can you form relationships fairly soon, and because the important thing is accomplishing a task rather than feeling your way into a relationship).

It’s important to remember that every culture and every scenario has both positive and negative characteristics.

Typical low context situations include: a PTA that any parent may join, meeting dates that are plainly advertised, who is president and what topics are covered at the meetings.

It is possible, however, that the persons in charge of the PTA are all acquainted with one another and have a wide range of interests if this is a small town They may “agree” on what should be discussed or what should take place without ever really discussing it; they may have unconscious, unexpressed values that impact their decisions without ever realizing it themselves.

While still considered low context, the PTA does have a high context subgroup that is itself a component of a high context small town community.

  • Traditions are important
  • Encourage the development of long-term connections. Use non-verbal cues such as tone of voice, facial expressions, body language, and so on to communicate effectively
  • They have a tendency to be non-confrontational and more straightforward. Non-explicit communication should be viewed as a rejection of the request. There isn’t much to say about them
  • Are more collectivistic in their outlook. The group is the source of one’s identity. Group harmony is highly valued. Individuals should have more defined limits, such as belonging to a certain group. They are sluggish to adapt

Cultures with a low level of context:

  • Tend to engage in a large number of superficial, short-term partnerships
  • Because they lack extra context, they necessitate explicit communication. Communication is more direct and combative these days, which is good. Are more individualistic in their outlook. The responsibility for identifying is with the person. Individual requirements are taken into consideration. Require that the message contain all of the necessary information. Can alter in a short period of time
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Another component that is connected to this is the perception of time. High context cultures are more likely to have an apolychronic experience of time, whereas low context cultures are more likely to have a amonochronic view. For monochronic persons, time is a physical and sequential concept — it is something that can be saved, spent, and so on. They set and stick to rigid deadlines, and they concentrate on completing a single task at a time. Polychronic persons have a flexible perception of time.

  1. Polychronic persons, on the other hand, work on numerous things at the same time, going back and forth between them.
  2. Similarly, someone from a low-context culture may behave in a way that would be considered ignorant, rude, or incompetent in a high-context culture.
  3. Additionally, a high-context individual may be perceived as unclear, secretive, undependable, unable to follow through on ideas, or inept owing to a lack of capacity to function independently.
  4. Japan, China, and the Arab countries are examples of countries with a high level of context sensitivity.
  5. It should be emphasized, however, that not all of the traits listed above and below are applicable to all cultures classified as high or low context.
  6. Sources 91-131 in Edward T.
  7. Sorrels, K.

Edward T. Hall,” accessed on 10 February 2013 from:Tung, R. (1995), “International Organizational Behaviour,” Luthans Virtual OB McGraw-Hill, pp 487-518; Sorrels, K. (1998), “On The Past and Future of Intercultural Relations Study Gifts of Wisdom:An Interview with

Context of Cultures: High and Low

1.4.6 – Context of Cultures: High and LowContext ofCultures: High and LowHere is another concept that will help you pull togethera lot of the material you have read so far about culture. It is called “highcontext” and “low context” and was created by the sameanthropologist who developed the concepts of polychronic and monochronic time.They complement each other and provide a broad framework for looking at culture.The list below shows the kind of behavior thatisgenerally found inhigh and lowcontext cultures within five categories: how people relate to each other, howthey communicate with each other, how they treat space, how they treat time,and how they learn. One thing to remember is that few cultures, and the peoplein them, are totally at one end of the spectrum or the other.Theyusually fall somewhere in between and may have a combination of high and lowcontext characteristics.
  • Relationships are based on trust, which develops gradually and is stable. One makes a distinction between persons who are within and those who are outside one’s circle. The ability to work with others and pay attention to the group process are essential for getting things done. One’s identity is anchored in groups (family, culture, and place of employment)
  • The social structure and authority are centralized, and accountability is at the top of the hierarchy of power. The person in charge is concerned with the well-being of the group.
  • Relationships begin and end in a blink of an eye. A large number of persons can be found within one’s circle
  • The circle’s perimeter is not clearly defined. By following processes and keeping an eye on the end objective, things get accomplished. One’s sense of self and accomplishments serve as the foundation of one’s identity. The social structure is decentralized
  • Responsibility is distributed more widely (rather than being concentrated at the top)
  • The use of nonverbal aspects is extensive
  • The tone of voice, facial expressions, gestures, and eye movement all contribute to the overall meaning of the discourse. When communicating verbally, the message is implicit
  • The context (situation, people, nonverbal aspects) is more significant than the words themselves. It is indirect to communicate verbally
  • One speaks around the topic and embellishes it. Communication is regarded as an art form apart from the act of engaging someone. Disagreement is unique to the individual. One is sensitive to the expression of conflict in nonverbal communication by another person. In order for work to develop, either conflict must be resolved or conflict must be avoided since it is personally threatening
  • There is a limited usage of nonverbal components. The verbal communication is more explicit than the nonverbal message
  • The verbal message is more direct. Language is more significant than context
  • A verbal communication is straightforward
  • One lays out exactly what they want to say. A method of exchanging information, ideas, and opinions, communication is considered to be a sort of exchange. Disagreement is depersonalized in this manner. One withdraws from a quarrel with another in order to focus on the work at hand. The emphasis is on logical answers rather than personal ones. It is possible to express one’s dissatisfaction with another’s troublesome conduct
  • People stand near to one another and share the same space since space is common.
  • Space is segregated and privately owned
  • Privacy is paramount, thus individuals are separated by a greater distance.
  • Everything moves at its own pace. Time is difficult to schedule
  • People’s wants may interfere with the ability to stick to a timetable. What is crucial is that something is done
  • Change is slow to happen. Things are firmly entrenched in the past, are difficult to change, and are steadfast. Time is a process
  • It belongs to others as much as to nature
  • It is cyclical.
  • Things are set to be completed at specific times and one at a time, according to a timetable. What matters is that task be completed efficiently, and that change occurs quickly. When one changes his or her behavior, one may witness instant benefits
  • Time is a commodity that can be spent or saved. One’s time is his or her own
  • Knowledge is integrated in the context
  • Things are interconnected, synthesized, and global in nature, There are a variety of sources of information used. Deductive reasoning is a process that moves from the general to the specific. Learning comes through observation of others as they model or demonstrate, followed by practice. When it comes to learning and problem solving, groups are favored
  • Accuracy is highly regarded. It is crucial to assess how well something has been learnt.
  • Realism has been divided and isolated for many years. When developing knowledge, one source of information is employed. Inductive reasoning is the process of moving from the specific to the general. Individual orientation is favored for learning and problem solving because it allows for greater attention to detail
  • Learning happens by following specific directions and explanations from others
  • And The importance of speed cannot be overstated. It is crucial to consider how quickly something may be taught.

anthropologist Edward T. Hall’s writings, all of which were published in New York by Doubleday in the 1950s and 1960s: The Silent Language(1959), The Hidden Dimension(1969), Beyond Culture(1976), and The Dance of Life(1979) (1983). The 1993 Annual: Developing Human Resources is the source of this information. PfeifferCompany. Let’s try out the following task to see where you fall on the low and high context continuum.

Instructions:Foreach of the following twenty items, check 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 to indicateyour tendencies and preferences in a work situation.
Hardly Ever Sometimes Almost Always
1 2 3 4 5
1. Whencommunicating, I tend to use a lot of facialexpressions, hand gestures, and body movementsratherthan relying mostly on words.
2. Ipay more attention to the context of a conversation�who said what andunder what circumstances�thanIdo to the words.
3. Whencommunicating, I tend to spell things outquickly and directly rather than talking around and addingto the point.
4. Inan interpersonal disagreement, I tend to be more emotional than logicaland rational.
5. Itend to have a small, close circle of friends rather thana large, but less close, circle of friends.
6. Whenworking with others, I prefer to get the job donefirst and socialize afterward rather than socialize first andthen tackle the job.
7. I would ratherwork in a group than by myself.
8. Ibelieve rewards should be given for individual accomplishment ratherthan for group accomplishments.
9. Idescribe myself in terms of my accomplishmentsratherthan in terms of my family and relationships.
10. Iprefer sharing space with others to having my own private space.
11. Iwould rather work for someone who maintains authorityandfunctions for the good of the group than work for someone who allowsa lot of autonomy and individual decisionmaking.
12. Ibelieve it is more important to be on time than to letotherconcerns take priority.
13. Iprefer working on one thing at a time to working on avariety of things at once.
14. Igenerally set a time schedule and keep to it rather than leave thingsunscheduled and go with the flow.
15. Ifind it easier to work with someone who is fast andwantsto see immediate results than to work with someone who is slow and wantsto consider all the facts.
16. Inorder to learn about something, I tend to consult many sources of informationrather than to go to the one bestauthority.
17. Infiguring out problems, I prefer focusing on the whole situation to focusingon specific parts or taking one step at a time.
18. Whentackling a new task, I would rather figure it out on my own by experimentationthan follow someone else’s example or demonstration.
19. Whenmaking decisions, I consider my likes and dislikes, not just the facts.
20. Iprefer having tasks and procedures explicitly defined tohaving a general idea of what has to be done.
Your High context score is: Your Low context score is: The difference between your scores is:Beforeyou see the interpretation of your scores, read this. Compare your High and Low Context Culture scores. They can provide a pretty clear indication of how you prefer to interact in work and other social settings. All this means is that you are likely to feel more comfortable using one or the other contexts. Neitherone is better or worse than the other. Preferring one style does notmean that you can�t interact effectively in many contexts, but justthat you might have to make some adjustments if, for example, yourstyle is predominantly high context and you find yourself functioningin a largely low context culture, or vice-versa. It also indicatesthat overseas adaptation might be easier if you were intending tolive in a culture that generally reflected those cultural values.Asuseful as it is to know what your “natural” style is, it is even moreimportant to understand how your preferred style might differ fromothers, and what that means when interacting with those who do notshare that preference. If you want to know more about theinterpretation of your scores.clickhere.

To illustrate how cultures fallalong the context continuum, here is a chart that includes some culturesthat have been studied.Nowthat you have learned how to think aboutcultures in general, we will look at a culture that you are very closeto, US-American. Section 1.5 looks at those characteristics of US culturethat will go with you but will not require a suitcase to carry.

High and Low Context Cultures

At Aerials last week, there was a question from the audience (really from Boris) to the panel, which was based on the concept of high and low context cultures, which was initially obtained from Edward Halls’s bookBeyond Culture. We were talking about organizational culture and change at the time, and Boris’s question was about the differences that might need to be considered not only in terms of the culture within an organization, but also in terms of the culture inherent in the society in which the organization is operating.

  1. I’ll paraphrase from this site (which provides the best succinct definition I could find): High context refers to societies or organizations in which individuals have developed tight bonds over a lengthy period of time, such as family or friends.
  2. Your family is most likely an example of a high context setting in which to live.
  3. In these civilizations, cultural conduct and beliefs may need to be openly stated so that individuals who are new to the culture are aware of how they should behave.
  4. In a low context, rules are important, nothing is taken for granted, overt and explicit signals are sent, time is highly organized, and interpersonal ties last for a shorter period of time.

However, as stated in the description that I referenced above, “While these labels are occasionally useful in defining some features of a culture, one can never declare a culture is “high” or “low” because all cultures incorporate both modalities of expression.” As a result, the terms “high” and “low” are less applicable as general descriptions of people, and are more effective for describing and understanding specific circumstances and settings.

As well as in the context of organizational culture, and in the context of the debate we had at the event about how to modify certain parts of organizational culture, I believe this is true as well.

Some of these aspects are more at ease in a high context setting, while others are more at ease in a low context environment.

As does coming to terms with one’s own inability to succeed.

I’m not sure I have any answers for how you might categorize or measure different aspects of organizational culture in this manner, but I believe there’s something to be gained from thinking about how one situation might contain a ‘inner high context core and an outer low context ring’ for those who are less involved, as well as considering the influence of the societal culture in which the company is operating, in this manner.

Cultural Context

In his book, Beyond Culture, published in 1976, Edward T. Hall was the first to use the words “high-context” and “low-context.” And in his book, Hall uses the terminology to characterize cultures based on how its members communicate with one another, a method that he developed himself. Because, despite the numerous distinctions that exist across cultures around the world, each culture may be classified as either a high-context or a low-context culture depending on the technique taken by the researcher.

High-Context cultures

Those living in high-context cultures are civilizations or groups of people that have built relationships over a long period of time and who, as a result, communicate via the use of non-explicit contextual aspects (Williams, n.d.). Thus, factors like as body language, tone of voice, and even a person’s social standing all have more profound and particular connotations when viewed through the lens of a highly contextualized culture. When it comes to communicating, words are not enough. For example, while responding to a question or a statement, it is usual practice in India to shake one’s head from side to side.

Even if there are multiple meanings associated with the gesture itself, every member of the community understands exactly what is meant when it is employed in a certain context.

Common characteristics of High-context cultures

  • Verbal communication is less specific and to-the-point than written communication. Non-verbal communication strategies (hand gestures, facial expressions, tone of voice, etc.) are frequently used to convey crucial information during a conversation. The context of a communication is more significant than the words spoken in it
  • Standing in close proximity to one another is a pleasurable experience. A strong focus is placed on interpersonal interactions. Strong sense of belonging (accepted member against “outsider”)
  • Strong sense of limits (accepted member versus “outsider”)
  • The importance of authority and figures of authority (the social hierarchy) is highly stressed. Prior to engaging in any economic activities, it is necessary to develop trust. Non-confrontational
  • Risk-averse

Examples of high-context cultures

  • India, China, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Spanish, African cultures, and Arabic cultures are all represented.

Low-context cultures

In low-context societies, information and conversation are communicated and conversed in a more straightforward manner, with emphasis placed primarily on the relevance of the words themselves rather than any implied understandings. The upshot is that people from low-context cultures are less likely to rely on the usage of contextual components to communicate a message. It is considerably more easy and explicit when information is conveyed instead. It is also necessary to explain out any cultural conventions and customs “so that those who are not familiar with the culture understand what is expected of them” (Williams, n.d.).

Individualism is a distinguishing characteristic of low-context civilizations, in contrast to collectivism, which is prominent in high-context cultures.

The upshot is that aspects of low-context culture such as privacy and personal space are highly prized as well.

What’s particularly fascinating about these elements of low-context cultures is that they often result in its members having a large number of connections that only persist for a short length of time.

Common characteristics of low-context cultures

  • As a society, we are very rule-oriented (in terms of external rules)
  • During the decision-making process, a strong focus is placed on reasoning and facts
  • Direct, explicit, and meaningful language is used in verbal communication. Using intuition and body language to transmit a message less often
  • It is less vital to build long-term connections than it is to complete tasks and achieve goals. Generalized explicit and codified knowledge that is readily available, as well as easily transferrable
  • In Beer (2003), “sequencing, separation of time, of space, of activities, of relationships” are used to describe the process. Very focused on the topic in hand and on finding a solution
  • Individualistic
  • Conflicts that are productive are encouraged. Risk-taking is encouraged
  • Procedural

Examples of low-context cultures

An iceberg may serve as an excellent metaphor and symbol for illustrating what the cultural context implies in a certain situation. In the same way that the tip of an iceberg is visible and noticeable, a culture may include features that are less visible and noticeable. However, a culture may also include traits that are much more profoundly buried, similar to the underside of an iceberg that is submerged beneath the surface of the sea. The tip of the iceberg (i.e., the part of the iceberg that is above the water line): In addition to the features of a culture that are clearly recognizable and apparent, as previously stated, the tip of the iceberg may be used to signify those traits.

  1. It is common for readers to recognize the traits of a culture that are represented by the tip of an iceberg when they are reading things like tourist brochures, and these features are often straightforward to comprehend.
  2. It’s possible that you’ve read something in a travel guide but discovered that the information was incorrect when you actually visited the place.
  3. No, most of the time the answer is no.
  4. These sorts of features would only be noticed and understood by a visitor after they had had firsthand exposure with the culture over a period of time.
  5. Things like mannerisms, unstated societal conventions, and ideals are all examples of what is included in this category.

“The Culture Map”​: Moving Beyond High Context/Low Context

The terms “high context cultures” and “low context cultures” allude to the importance that civilizations place on direct and indirect communication. The directness of communication is important to someone who has a low context orientation, and they feel that individuals should “speak what they mean and mean what they say.” The United States and Australia are frequently mentioned as examples of low context cultures. The context of what is being said is important to a person with strong context orientation, and they pay close attention to where others are situated, how they are dressed, and what is being stated between the lines in a conversation.

  1. This paradigm is used in business to identify and manage differences across cultures, according to the original source.
  2. In actuality, culture is a far more complicated phenomenon.
  3. The Culture Map is comprised of eight scales that indicate the managerial behaviors that are most commonly associated with cultural gaps, and the method seeks to move beyond preconceptions in order to recognize the unique cultural dynamics that have an impact on organizational success.
  4. Rather than bridging the gaps between colleagues from high and low context cultures, he saw that the most important challenges the firm encountered were those arising from the differences between Japanese and Chinese coworkers.
  5. Using his personal circumstances as inspiration, Meyer created a cultural map that helps to demonstrate how merely categorizing nations according to high and low context may lead to ineffectiveness and communication failures.
  6. Using Edward T.
  7. While low context cultures favor clear, concise, and explicit statements, high context cultures prefer messages that convey implicit meaning rather than explicitly stated meaning, as shown in the chart below.

This measure takes into account the inclination for diplomatic input as opposed to honest feedback.

What are some of the arguments that you find convincing?

This scale assesses the degree to which culture strikes a balance between holistic and specialized mental patterns.

When it comes to making decisions, we generally think that hierarchical cultures will enable the boss to make unilateral judgments, whereas egalitarian cultures will encourage collective consensus and agreement in decision-making.

When it comes to trust, the Trusting metric assesses which cultures place a high value on cognitive trust in the workplace and which cultures place a high value on affective trust.

When it comes to open dispute in the workplace, Meyer’s scale examines how much tolerance people have for it and whether they consider it to be constructive or destructive to their relationships.

Scheduling: In accordance with Hall’s’monochronic vs polychronic’ concept, this scale evaluates how much importance is placed on functioning in a reactive, flexible manner as opposed to a linear, organized one.

However, as the globe becomes more globalized and linked, it will become increasingly vital to employ a variety of viewpoints and approaches.

In the words of Meyer, “by avoiding prevalent prejudices and learning to decipher the behaviors of different cultures throughout the scales, we may avoid causing (and receiving) offence and better capitalise on the advantages of growing variety.” In short, you must first determine where you communicate on the scale, then pay attention to telltale signs of where others sit and utilize this information to your advantage in order to bargain and create relationships with them.

Allowing us to maximize the return on our variety by deciphering human behavior and building deeper relationships (and minimise conflict.) Remember that you can never generalize about a group of people, for example, all Germans being low context; nevertheless, we may say that the majority of Germans are, especially when contrasted to another cultural group.

High- and Low-Context Cultures and Responsibility for Miscommunication

Exemple No. 1 Employer: Hey, let’s get this party started. Employee:It? Employer: That’s right, it’s the same stuff we usually use! Employee:? Employer: This is extremely annoying! You’ve spent enough time with me to be able to comprehend what I’m saying. I’m just going to bring it personally. Exemple No. 2 Husband: Could you please wash the rice and put it in the rice cooker for me? Husband: All right! After washing the rice and placing it in the rice cooker, the spouse finishes the task. Later on, the woman inspects the cooker and becomes enraged, yelling at her husband.

  1. Husband: Honey, why didn’t you just start the rice cooker right away?
  2. Husband: Wife: Are you serious?
  3. You were obviously aware that we were planning to eat supper soon.
  4. For those of you who are from the United States or Germany, the communication techniques shown in the examples above may appear a little strange.
  5. Koreans frequently assert that you must be able to decipher what people are saying, even when they are not doing a good job articulating what they genuinely want to communicate.
  6. Using the notion of context, which was initially presented by anthropologist Edward T.
  7. A cultural continuum of high and low context, according to Hall, may be distinguished depending on whether explicit verbal statements or contextual clues are prioritized more prominently in communication.

Germany, Sweden, and the United States are all considered low-context cultures, according to most scholars.

As a result, listeners are frequently required to interpret spoken or written words based not only on the content of the words but also on the tone of the voice, the gesture, and the context in which they are delivered.

I pay attention to cultural differences for a variety of reasons, one of which is that it provides insight into whether misunderstanding is ascribed to the speaker or the listener in different cultures.

This is due to the fact that in high-context cultures, the interpretation of a communication is dependent on the subjective assessment of the listener.

According to the psychologists Singelis and Brown, they investigated whether collectivistic cultural norms are connected with the propensity to blame listeners for misunderstanding, but they found no evidence to support this idea.

Because communication is essential for the acquisition of understanding among people, this research topic may be one that our Geography of Philosophy Project, which seeks to expand the existing academic understanding of knowledge, understanding, and wisdom, should investigate in the future.

T., ed., Bibliography: (1989).

Kittler, M.

(in press) (2011).

Examining the application of Hall’s idea of high-/low-context.

T. M. Singelis and W. J. Brown are co-authors of this paper (1995). Culture, self, and collectivist communication: Establishing a link between cultural values and individual conduct is important. 354-389 in Human Communication Research, vol. 21, no. 3.

High-Context vs. Low-Context Communication

I’m a recent graduate of the MCDM program at the University of Washington. For the time being, I am employed as a Marketing Coordinator/Administrator for an interior architecture firm. Globalization has enabled businesses to operate on a global scale. If you want to be effective on a worldwide scale, you’ll need to understand a variety of communication techniques. Canva.com As it turns out, business relationships these days are a small world indeed. As more and more businesses shift their attention to international markets, professionals are finding themselves in unfamiliar territory, negotiating and bartering like never before.

  1. In a phrase coined by author Edward Hall, the terms “high context” and “low context” refer to designations that denote underlying cultural variations that exist across different cultures.
  2. According to Hall, when it comes to communication, people are exposed to far more sensory stimuli than they are capable of processing completely.
  3. In general, societies that value low-context communication will give more attention to the literal meanings of words than they will to the context in which they are used.
  4. Often, the sorts of connections we have with people and the circumstances in which we find ourselves will determine how much we rely on literal or implicit meanings in our communication.
  • How well do I identify implicit signals from others, and how well do I recognize the verbal and nonverbal indicators that allow me to grasp what the speaker is trying to convey? (High-Context)
  • What do I mean when I say “let my words speak for themselves?” Do I like to be more direct, relying on what is openly expressed in my speech, or do I prefer to be more indirect? (Low-Context)

Amy Tan, a novelist, portrays the variations in cultural communication in the following way: “”Let’s strike a deal,” may remark an American business executive, to which a Chinese management might respond, “Is your son interested in learning about your widget business?” might suggest the Chinese manager. Dedicated to each or her own goal, everyone on his or her own language journey.” It is common for issues to arise during the sharing of information when people from high-context and low-context cultures work with one another.

Employees from high-context cultures such as China and France, for example, exchange highly precise and lengthy information with their “in-group members” as a matter of course (good friends, families, close coworkers, etc).

Low-context societies such as the United States and Germany, on the other hand, seek to restrict communication to smaller, more select groups of individuals, revealing only the information that is absolutely essential.

High-Context Communication

Hall says that the majority of the knowledge is either in the physical context or has been initialized in the individual.

  • Knowledge is contextual and relational in nature. Less information is communicated verbally, in writing, or in a formal manner. Increasingly internalized understandings of what is transmitted (for example, through “in-jokes”)
  • In long-term, well-established partnerships, this expression is frequently employed. Personalized face-to-face contact, generally centered on a single, authoritative figure, is at the heart of all decisions and actions
  • The ability to distinguish between those who are accepted/belong and those who are “outsiders”


  • Relationships are built on trust, take time to develop, and are rather stable. Relationships with individuals and attention to group process are important factors in how things get done. One’s identity is founded in social groupings (family, culture, and place of employment)


  • Nonverbal communication is heavily emphasized
  • Tone of voice, facial expression, gestures, and eye movement all contribute significantly to the flow of a discussion. It is indirect to communicate verbally
  • One speaks around the issue and embellishes it
  • Communication is seen as an art form—a method of interacting with another person. Disagreement is unique to the individual. One’s nonverbal communication is sensitive to the expression of conflict in another’s nonverbal communication. In order for work to advance, either the conflict must be resolved or it must be avoided.


  • There are a variety of information sources employed. Observing others as they model or display, and then practicing, is how deductive thinking works
  • Learning occurs by first observing others as they model or exhibit, and then practicing When it comes to learning and problem solving, groups are favored
  • Accuracy is highly regarded. It is crucial to assess how well something has been learnt.

High context cultures are more prevalent in eastern countries than in western ones, as well as in countries with a low level of ethnic diversity. Cultures that place a high importance on the collective above the individual encourage group dependency. High context cultures, such as tribal and aboriginal communities, are characterized by a strong sense of tradition and history, and they change little over time. For example, the French presume that the listener is well-versed in the subject matter.

During the Camp David peace talks, former President Jimmy Carter recognized the significance of communicating in a high-context with his colleagues from Israel and Egypt.

As he gazed at the photographs, the prime minister spoke aloud the names of his grandkids, pondering on the importance of the peace negotiations to the futures of his grandchildren and his own grandchildren.

Read More From Toughnickel

“The explicit code possesses the majority of the information,” says Hall.

  • Organizing by rules
  • More knowledge is available to the public, is external, and is easily accessible. Communication sessions will be shorter in duration. Knowing something is transferrable. Task-centered. Determining what has to be done and dividing duties are at the forefront of decisions and activities.


  • Relationships are short-lived and frequently terminate abruptly. A large number of persons can be found within one’s circle
  • The circle’s perimeter is not clearly defined. By following processes and keeping an eye on the end objective, things get accomplished. One’s sense of self and accomplishments serve as the foundation of one’s identity. The social structure is decentralized
  • Responsibility is distributed more widely (rather than being concentrated at the top)


  • The message is communicated more effectively via words than through nonverbal ways. The verbal communication is direct
  • One expresses himself or herself clearly. In the context of communication, it is considered a means of communicating information, ideas, and views. Disagreement is depersonalized in this manner. One withdraws from a quarrel with another in order to focus on the work at hand. The emphasis is on intellectual answers rather than personal ones


  • In order to develop knowledge, one source of information is used
  • Inductive reasoning is the process of moving from the specific to the general. The attention is on the details
  • Learning comes as a result of following precise directions and explanations provided by others. When it comes to learning and problem solving, an individualistic approach is recommended. The importance of speed cannot be overstated. It is crucial to consider how quickly something may be taught.

It is necessary for an individual coming from a high context culture to adapt and/or be accommodated while moving to a low context culture. Small, close-knit groups are expected in high context cultures, where work and personal life are intertwined and interdependent. As a result, an individual with a high context sensitivity is more inclined to ask questions rather than attempt to figure out a solution on their own. Remember that communication is essential in business, so be certain that you know not just what to say but also how to say it.

To the best of the author’s knowledge, the information in this article is accurate and complete.

rima islamon The 17th of March, 2018: It’s quite easy to understand the tips because of the manner you write them.

Ferhan Patel, a resident of Montreal, Canada, wrote on April 27, 2016, ” The way you look at things is quite intriguing.

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Rythemon “mqjeffrey” on the 8th of January, 2013.

This saved me a significant amount of time.:-) Dreamon June 08, 2012: This is quite intriguing; thank you so much for sharing these valuable suggestions.

On May 30, 2012, mqjeffrey (author) posted the following: Hello, and thank you for taking the time to read this.

We were not equipped with the most up-to-date data sets when we arrived.” A high-context communication style is more reliant on environmental cues (such as how and where you say something): Following a dissatisfactory meeting with a client, the boss invites an employee to their office.

Studenton from around the world The 29th of November, 2011: Your post is extremely beneficial to me, particularly with regard to my assignment.

Thank you very much rohanshettyon October 27, 2011:thanx 4m INDIA.:) Blancaon April 04, 2011:I’m very lucky to read the articai,thank you!

Lalaon February 07, 2011:Well done!


I was looking for it Maximum Aon October 21, 2010:thanks so much for your info!

wdon September 30, 2010:Good post Phil Hudsonon May 04, 2010:Great post, many thanks!

This is interesting.

I have been away from HubPages for too long.


I found it very useful in my assignment.

WebMarketingRebelon November 03, 2009: Thank you for your in depth comparison of communications approaches between high context and low context styles.

Any thoughts?

Lots of great stuffs for aspiring writers.

I just need your opinion about the content of my hubs.

Delimaon August 02, 2009: hey thanks for the interesting article.

Reynolds Writingfrom Atlanta, Georgia on April 21, 2009: This is a very interesting topic.

Learned something new on HubPages today!

Myron Tayfrom Singapore on February 03, 2009: Note to self: Google ‘Edward Hall’mqjeffrey (author)on December 24, 2008: of this site as a “Blog.” Let me know if you have anymore questions.

NKon December 24, 2008: How do I site any of the information on this website for a paper?

you are a real cool mr. Ronasa23on October 16, 2007: am glad to c any one join me.

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