In the section, “Understanding Cultural Differences,” the topics of high- and low-context cultures, cultural perceptions of time, and interpersonal space interested me. In high-context cultures, such as, China, it is customary to bow when greeting someone or to use both hands when presenting your business card to someone. High-context cultures tended to have more respect and therefore react to different statuses accordingly. In low-context cultures, a simple hand shake or greeting already establishes trust, where as in high-context cultures trust is gained through time. In Leeds (2008), high-context cultures require presentation styles that are characterized as indirect, relational, story telling, group oriented, and trust building. In low-context cultures, their presentation styles are more direct, data driven, has a logical flow, confident, and answers the question of “What’s In it for Me.” Low-context cultures view time monochronically, where being on time is important. However, high-context cultures view time polychronically as something that is flexible and casual. According to Leeds (2008), in most Middle Eastern countries, time is associated with their religious beliefs which makes them regard time in a more relaxed manner. Timing is also reflected in the way different countries’ economies operate, where some value fast economic growth, while others prefer a slow, stable growth. Interpersonal space is also important because negotiations and presentation styles need to be altered to fit the cultural situation. North American and Norther European countries prefer the personal zone, while Asian, Latin American, and Arab countries prefer a more intimate zone. In Effective Communication through Presentations¸the intimate zone is defined as less than 18 inches apart, the personal zone is 18 inches to 4 feet, the social zone is 4 to 12 feet, and the public zone is over 12 feet. Also, the importance of eye contact is also discussed by Leeds (2008) saying that countries, such as, Asian, Latin American, and Caribbean cultures view eye contact as something to avoid because it is considered rude. North American, European, and Arab cultures, on the other hand, view eye contact as an acceptable gesture. By knowing what to do and what to avoid, people can be better informed of the cultural differences and make accomondations when they’re in situation that requires them to do so.
Leeds, Christopher. Effective Communicatioj through Presentations. Acton, MA: Copely Custom Textbooks, 2008.