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Business communication

Culture is shared, learned, and adapted by a group of people. Cultures are always changing. When cultural diffusion happens there is a transfer of ideas, things and behaviors from one culture to another culture. There are two basic types of cultures which are diametrically opposed to each culture other (Meredith, 2005, p. 114). These are monochromic and polychromic cultures. Monochromic culture – These types of cultures

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are also known as M-time cultures. In a monochromic culture, time is of essence or as the saying goes, “Time is Money”.

In such a culture people tend to perform one task at a time, take their schedules seriously, and are very impatient (Hodge, 2000, p. 67). A monochromic view of time construes it as linear, one track, compartmentalized and goal oriented. Hence, monochromic cultures focus on schedules – when the time’s up, its time to go home regardless of whether or not the task has been completed. People belonging to monochromic culture tend to focus on one topic at a time. Meetings generally start on time, finish on time and follow a pre-specified agenda.

Examples of monochromic cultures are British and American cultures (de Mooij, 2005, p. 58). Polychromic culture – These types of cultures

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are also known as P-time cultures. In a polychromic culture, people perceive time as very flexible allowing them to do several things at the same time, for instance talking to someone in their office while polishing their shoes at the same time (Hodge, 2000, p. 67). A polychromic view of time construes it as nonlinear, multiple track, open-ended, and lacking clear boundaries.

People from polychromic cultures, pay less attention to schedules and more to the completion of tasks or the conclusion of interchanges, and they tend to juggle multiple tasks rather than completing one at a time. Meeting in polychromic cultures start when key people are ready and the meeting can be scheduled at the last minute for any reason. Also the meetings rarely use agendas for meetings and jump from one topic to next whenever a connection is made. Examples of monochromic cultures are Russia and China (de Mooij, 2005, p. 58).

Monochromic cultures tend to see polychromic cultures as disorganized and scatterbrained and their own style as organized and focused. However, it would be more accurate to see polychromic cultures as an early model for the multitasking and decentralized team-oriented approaches that characterize the new management structure. Polychromic cultures, on the other hand, tend to see the monochromic culture as heartless, mechanical and money oriented. The time management experts here usually advise managers to reduce office chitchats and give tips on how to cut people short.

However, in monochromic cultures, if time is cut down in such a way, it is likely to incur bigger costs down the road (Laroche, 2003, p. 138-139). Type of communication Business communication framework focuses on perspectives, types of communication, contexts and patterns. Communication in any business operates from three perspectives: one customer – supply chain relationships including both external and internal links; two, employee-management relationship including internal links only and customer-consumer-product relationships.

Communication occurs in different forms in these relationships – it may be a set of data, information or knowledge about product, services and about people (Narula, 2006, p. 3). There are three typologies that define communication: The first type of topology defines communication as a process. It could be linear, non-linear and circular. The second type of topology defines communication as hierarchical: vertical or top to bottom, horizontal i. e. among another in the same hierarchy and bottom-up i. e.

communicating from lower level hierarchy to top level. The third topology defines communication vis-a-vis different communication environments. Different communication environments call for various types of communications. (Narula, 2006, p. 4) Chinese society is a high-context culture, where a message can be properly understood only in relation to its environment or context including a wide array of variables such as gestures tones, social hierarchy and background information. Hence the communication tends to be much less literal and much more personal.

They are characterized by close relationships between family, friends and business associates, which together form an extensive network of information that is used to interpret all events and communications. One of the major confusions in Chinese business communication is the figure of speech that signifies a response as a yes or no. Since the communication tends to be high-context, it is possible to say one thing while meaning the other; in other words yes and no can carry a variety of meanings. As an example yes can signify a mere non committal response or it can mean an overwhelming support (Chen, 2003, p. 126-130).

Business communication in China is essentially hierarchical. Establishing and reaffirming social order is a central aspect of communication in the Chinese context. Social roles and relationships that structure society inevitably influence communication events. Communication in western countries, especially US, is open, explicit, direct, and efficient. Little attention is paid to form and written communication is favored. In Chinese business environment, generally personal, subtle and rich communication is favored (Lam, 2000, p. 7).

The information is disclosed according to the quality of relationship and generally parties like to mask conflicts among higher authorities. Also written communication is generally avoided. In addition, Chinese business people pay a good deal of attention to nonverbal communication and will watch for signals from the manner of delivery to interpret a message. Also Chinese people convey a large amount of information through gestures of courtesy and body language, which can also be difficult to understand and interpret (Chen, 2003, p. 121-135).

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