Graphic artist Yang Liu has a sharp eye for cultural comparison, honed by personal experience. In 1990, at the age of 13, she moved from Beijing, to Berlin. After exactly 13 years there, she started an illustrated project to document her dual experiences in China and Germany.

Those of us who have cross-cultural experiences and coach English speak about culture as a key to learning the language and also the key to issues relating to cultural differences with our clients. When you live in a non-native English speaking country, you can understand how vast some cultural differences are. You can also learn just how much cultural differences can influence your understanding, affect your friendships and improve the study of the English language.

Here are a few examples of East/West Cultural differences.

Westerners believe that time is money and equate it with success. In Eastern countries, relationships are more important than time or ‘being on time’ and stress that the people are more important. To a North American, not being on time is seen as been inconsiderate or egocentric.

Eastern cultures (especially Chinese culture) accentuate never being direct, as directness can often make one ‘lose face’, whereas in the West, directness is to be succinct and not waste peoples’ time. And it’s common for Westerners to look directly into a person’s eyes, whereas in the East, it’s sometimes considered impolite.

Truth and honour are other areas of vast cultural differences. Eastern cultures don’t want to offend therefore saying what they anticipate the other person would want to hear is more important than being clear and direct. Preserving one’s honour or ‘face’ and one’s standing in the community are prized, and therefore causing another to lose face is seen as a huge failure. It’s almost more important what others think of you than it is about being yourself. Western cultural values stress speaking the facts and being true to oneself above all.

If you feel that if you are having trouble with communication with a person of another culture, it’s likely that the problem comes from lack of understanding from both people and that it’s probably cultural differences that are getting in the way of good communication. 

Therefore traveling, studying articles and watching culture documentaries can help learning. And knowing a few examples of the differences, plus NOT expecting the person of another culture to adhere to your cultural standards is the real key to your excellent communication.

Please Comment & Tell Me How These Cultural Differences Can Help You.

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