8 Conversational Styles

There are many differences in intercultural communication. Cultures can be high or low-context, and there are many differences regarding physical contactpersonal space and gestures. Rules for conversations help enhance intercultural communication by knowing which verbal and nonverbal codes you should use.  Know these 8 different communication styles to help pick the topic, take turns and make requests.

1. Direct. European Americans prefer a direct style which includes explicit messages that express clearly the speaker’s intentions.

2. Indirect. African Americans and Koreans use an indirect style with ambiguous messages and mask their intentions and needs.

3. Elaborate. Arab, Latino and Japanese cultures tend to be more elaborate in their conversation styles by using figurative language,metaphors and proverbs.

4. Succinct. Japanese Americans and Chinese Americans like to use long pauses and understatements in conversations.

5. Contextual. Japanese, Chinese and Indian cultures use social roles to adjust the conversation style. Different status are taken into account to help decide the level of formality to be used.

6. Personal. Cultures that use a personal style are less formal and focus on the individual and disregard status differences.

7. Instrumental. Communication uses explicit messages and is very goal-oriented.

8. Affective. Communication is emotional and sensitive. Messages are sometimes implicit with meanings found in verbal and nonverbal codes.

Knowing the different conversational styles is critical in intercultural communication. Without being aware of a different cultures conversation style, someone may come off as rude or impersonal or maybe even too personal. There is a lot of room for error in interpreting the message if the communication style is misunderstood. Communication is key for doing international business or traveling. What kind of communication errors have you run into during your travels?


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