Edward's Theory Of High And Low Context Culture

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Today workforce is faced with a much more complex situation like national origin, culture and subcultures, accents, and language barriers and so on. Clarity in communication is vital in business. It is necessary to understand the concepts of cultural competence and cultural adaptability. These concepts help individuals interact across cultures without judgment. This ability enables them to approach communication issues with more patience and a stronger desire to reach an understanding that works for everyone. They are not concerned about doing it their way but target more on finding a middle ground that respects and includes everyone. The different communication styles are;
• High Context versus Low Context
• Direct versus Indirect
• Formal versus Informal
High-context culture and the contrasting low-context culture are terms presented by anthropologist Edward T. Hall in his 1976 book titled Beyond Culture. Edward’s theory of high and low context cultures helps us to know better about the powerful effect that culture has on communication. One of the most important factors in his theory is the context which relates to the background, framework, and surrounding circumstances in which communication or an event takes place. Cultures differ immensely from another and have different meanings and importance to certain actions, words, and body language.

High Context Cultures
High-context cultures (including much of the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and South America) are collectivist, relational, intuitive, and thoughtful. This means that people in these cultures emphasize more on interpersonal relationships and maintaining a strong bond among the family members. Words are not as important as context, which can include the speak...

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...ssed or what should be decided without even talking about it. They will have unconscious and unexpressed values that influence their decisions. Other residents from outside may not understand how decisions are actually made. So the residential association is still low context, but has a high context subdivision that in turn is a part of a high context small town society.
The low and high context cultures can have problems in the business world and outside of it because their differences. For example if company wants to do business in high context cultural nation like China they will have to understand their values and earn their trust. Chinese partners distrust contracts and believe in the integrity and values of the person that they are dealing with. It is important for big companies to have interpreters rather than translators when conveying with eastern cultures.

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