Different people can have different communication styles. This preference in communication style is greatly influenced by the culture one grows up in.
Before students can understand their communication style in relation to that of others, students should understand what their communication style is because this influences how they interpret other communication styles.
They can then understand how to adapt their communication style to that of others. This would help prevent students from creating misinterpretations about a culture, such as treating the culture as strange or backward. It would also help them recognize similarities and acknowledge the differences in communication styles. An example of a culture that shares some similarities in communication style with America, but also has many differences is India.
One of the most important features of Indian communication is that it is more of a high context culture, in which emotions and body language are of great importance.
Indians utilize head motions, and hand motions etc. that are very important to the message. Many of the movements involved are similar to movements used in America, such as the way hands are used to express oneself, but in India it is used with much more intensity and frequency in a conversation.
This goes along with the norm of a more attached communication style than the US. A high level of emotions and body language go together when trying to express oneself in India. When trying to communicate with an Indian it is important to be aware of these emotions and body language being expressed as well as listening to the words to understanding the message.
Another important feature of Indian communication is the permeation of culture in the way of communicating. Story-telling traditions are a huge part of Indian history and this contributes to the prevalence of story-telling style of communication or circular form.
Giving details and going on tangents when communicating are an important part of the culture. Students from the US that would be more used to a linear form of communication would have to be aware to search for the main points being made.
The most important concept that students should learn about communication styles when communicating with someone from India, or any other culture, is that communication styles vary by situation.
Like in the US, Indians tend to be quite direct and idea-oriented, but this varies greatly depending on the context. For example, in most cultures, people will be more indirect when speaking to elders or strangers. Indians also act very differently with Indians and non-Indians.
With other Indians, Indians are much more expressive with emotions and body language, are much more relationship-oriented, and direct. They communicate on a much more personal level, discussing family etc. even with strangers.
However, with non-Indians they act in nearly the opposite manner. They act in a more distant manner utilizing more direct, detached, and linear communication styles.
Like in the US, Indians adapt their communication style to fit the situation. Therefore, to truly understand Indian communication style it is important for a student to personally interact with various Indians both to understand how Indians interact with the student and how they can adjust themselves to an Indian communication style.
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