Misunderstanding in cross-cultural communication
The influence of different value systems as reflected in spoken discourse
This paper examines the spoken discourse of immigrant professionals problem solving in small groups in order to see how different cultural values both influence, and are reflected in, the way a problem is defined and solutions proposed. It also provides evidence that these values are one of the factors that contribute to miscommunication in this type of communication. Three types of miscommunication are identified: misinterpretation of the message because a cultural filter distorts the message; incomplete comprehension because the underlying values are not explicated and the hearers remain unaware of the full implications of the message; and comprehension but misunderstanding and dissonance because the values of the hearers are at variance with the reality of the message. The extent to which the views of individuals conformed to the value systems general ascribed to their cultural background is discussed and instances of individual variance noted. Finally, the implications for teaching and workplace training suggested by these findings are discussed.
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