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). Value of relationship If language is at the center of the Chinese culture, then social relationships are at the core of Chinese society. China is a relationship-oriented society.
Much of what is accomplished or not accomplished is based on how close the relationship is between the parties. The Chinese call it guanxi, which in business means the network and interaction of relationships based on regular friendly contact and exchange of favors. Even the way Chinese maintain their relationships is much more intense and they literally keep in trough with friends going all the way back to elementary school. Most of the studies of guanxi or Chinese business networks have either explicitly or implicitly established that such connections are extremely important in business affairs.
It is seen that if there is guanxi between two businessmen, each seems willing to grant more favorable terms to the other in business affairs so that deals are more easily struck between them. Guanxi requires deep commitment and a long-term investment of time and energy, and like all social relationships has the potential to reap considerable returns. Nearly every aspect of Chinese business interactions is affected by guanxi. The concept is alien to US companies, who go mostly by legal right and wrongs and contractual obligations, and do not really go overboard to cultivate personal relationships (Saxon, 2006, p. 56-57).
Guanxi is too often misunderstood as a form of cronyism and influence peddling and is associated with bribery and corruption. Guanxi is more than a friendship or simple interpersonal relationship, since it includes reciprocal obligations to respond to requests for assistance. Unlike inter-firm networking in the West, however, this reciprocity is implicit, without time specifications, not necessarily equivalent, and only socially binding.
The basis for guanxi establishment can be defined as a “commonality of shared identification amongst two or more people”, and can be achieved through shared experience or is ascriptive i. e. based on kinship of some kind. However, the basis for guanxi does not imply that such an alliance with develop. The existence of a base only paves the way for an opportunity to establish guanxi. Guanxi is also dynamic and certain social bases for guanxi can be transferred. The concept traces its roots back to ancient Chinese social customs wherein reciprocity and other modes of social exchange were used to build and maintain social relationships. An important benefit of guanxi networking for business is the protection it offers from threats and uncertainty (Chen, 2003, p. 47-48).