How does cultural context affect communiation?

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Knowing and understanding the culture of the one or more with whom you're communicating is the least one can do to be prepared to communicate on any level.  From the most informal conversation to the most intricate business proposition or diplomatic negotiation, communication involves finding common ground and understanding.  How...

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Knowing and understanding the culture of the one or more with whom you're communicating is the least one can do to be prepared to communicate on any level.  From the most informal conversation to the most intricate business proposition or diplomatic negotiation, communication involves finding common ground and understanding.  How can that happen without knowing or learning the culture of the parties involved. 

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It can affect it greatly, since all communication has been developed over time, in both written, spoken and non-verbal forms, through the cultures that use them.  I'll give you one specific example I heard from a friend of mine who does international presentations in the business world.

This was in Argentina, and he was speaking to a group of about 100 businessmen and college students in a large meeting room.  My friend is fluent in Spanish, but of course, is not Argentinian.  He had broken them into groups and given them a task to share and complete, and he was doing like any good teacher would, and monitoring their progress from the front of the room.  To one of the groups in the back, he asked if they were doing OK, but since they could not hear him over the noise in the room, he gave them the
"OK" sign with an inquisitive look.  Well, that means something other than OK in most of Latin America.  It's more or less the equivalent of the middle finger in the United States.  So yes, cultural context and communication can be intimately related.

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