Free High-Context Communication Research Paper Sample

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Communication, Context, Information, Culture, People, Body Language, Learning, Trust

Pages: 5

Words: 1375

Published: 2020/12/04

Communication Practices in High and Low Context Cultures

In the current world, the world has become like a small village because of the business relations that have developed. Professionals are continuously finding themselves in foreign countries as more companies turn to the global market systems. However, the key factor towards effective and adequate communication between different countries is understanding of each countries’ cultures. This applies especially to learning and understanding of each society’s ways of conveying meanings. As the author Cole denoted, the expressions “low context” and “high context” show the differences that are inherent in different cultures. High and low context communication is used to refer to the extent to which speakers rely on other factors or things apart from words in the verge of conveying meaning. Cole Further says that different societies, members get provided with certain "filters" that enable them to focus only on what the society considers important. Those cultures that enhance low-context communication pay more attention to words’ direct meanings other than the contexts that surround them. It is worth noting that everyone uses both high and low context communication, only that one is favored than the other. Meeting of people from the two cultures leads to the development of many difficulties in exchanging information among the parties involved. These difficulties can be made distinctive concerning the direction, quality, and quantity. For instance, the employees that come from high context cultures such as France and China share information that is extensive with their “inner circle” members such as friends, close coworkers, and families. In contrast, low-context cultures such as Germany and the United States make it a preference to limit their communication to smaller groups and sharing information when necessary.

This type of communication involves people emphasizing on interpersonal relationships. This means that those people that are in such kinds of cultures are relational, intuitive, collectivist, contemplative and intuitive. The most important step in anykind of business transactions is development of trust. In this context, words are not given much importance in the context. Context such as speaker’s voice tones, gestures, facial expressions, postures and even family status and history. Examples of regions exhibiting this communication type include Asia, Africa, South America and the Middle East (Beal, 28). High-context communication is discussed under the following subheadings:


In this type of communication, passing of information depends on trust, which builds up slowly and becomes stable with time. Trust, in this case, refers to the extent to which one can confide in another person to- the extent of sharing certain information that is critical and highly personal. Trust develops according to the relationship that two parties have and builds up with time. When the trust is fully developed, the two parties can exchange information freely. Moreover, the way things get done is highly dependent on the relationships that exist between people. This means that the better the relationship there is between parties, the better and faster things get done. Lastly, a person’s identity is normally rooted or linked to groups such as family, work and culture (Kittler et al. 63).


In high-context communication, there is high usage of nonverbal cues. These are facial expressions, gestures, variation of tones and eye movement patterns. These form very key aspects of communication in high-context communication. There is normally much meaning attached to the above clues, other than words. For instance, one can tell the honesty, sorrow, happiness or any other emotion that someone ha, using the nonverbal cues. Additionally, high-context communication entails indirectness of the verbal (Pruvli, 95). Messages. Someone does not go straight to the point; they hover around it while sugar coating it to receivers of the message. This type of communication views communication as a form of engaging someone. Engaging a person can be for many reasons, including helping the person get their mind off the stress and many other things. Lastly, disagreements are personalized in this type of communication. People are very sensitive to any types of conflicts and, therefore, the conflicts must be solved or avoided. If not avoided or solved, the conflicts can affecting relationships between people be it at work, home or any other place that involves communicating with one another.


In high-context communication, several sources of information are utilized. Information can be sourced from places such as deductive thinking. In this perspective, information flows from general forms to more and more specific forms. People deduce meaning and various pieces of information from what they are told in general terms (Croucher et al. 64). Learning happens through observing other people and then learn from them. This method of learning is good in terms of avoiding making mistakes that could have occurred were it that everyone learns by themselves. Additionally, problem-solving is preferred to be handled through the use of groups because it is considered that many people can handle a problem as compared to a single person. Lastly, accuracy is highly valued in high-context communication. How good something is learned is very essential in this type of communication.

Low-context communication

This type of communication is linear, action-oriented and individualistic in nature. People that hail from the cultures having low-context information value the facts, directness and logic of communication. Making decisions in low-context communication mainly depends on facts rather than intuition and any discussions must end with actions (Croucher et al., 70). Parties in communication must be straightforward, efficient and concise when they are telling about actions to be taken. An example of areas with low-context communication is North America and Western Europe. This type of communication is discussed below under subheadings:


Unlike in high-context communication, messages are carried by words rather than nonverbal cues. Because the communication here depends on facts, it means that words must be used instead of nonverbal cues. Secondly, verbal messages are direct whereby one spells out what they want in the direct manner, without hiding in the bush. Additionally, communication is viewed as a means of exchanging information, opinions and ideas (Beal, 29). This is unlike high-context communication where communication is viewed as a way of bonding and creating relationships between people. Additionally, disagreements are depersonalized in this type of communication. In the making, one withdraws from any conflict they may be having with anyone and carries on with their task. The main focus is normally on the rational solutions rather than personal ones.


In this type of communication, one source of information is one unlike in high-context communication that involves multiple sources of information. Derivation of information is inductive instead of deductive whereby one follows information from the details to general. Additionally, learning occurs through following of directions and explanations of other people instead of observing what they do. Individual orientation is preferred in problem-solving, unlike in high-context communication where groups are preferred. In this context, one manages their problems without having to run to other to assist them. This is mainly because they would solve the problems depending on the situation by collecting the necessary facts surrounding the problem and then coming up with the most appropriate solution (Kittler et al., 70).


In conclusion, communication type depends on the nature of a society. Some cultures are engineered in ways that support one form of communication and disfavor another. As it has been seen from above, high-context and low-context communication varies in terms of association, interactions and modes of learning. While high-context communication entails use of multiple sources, low-context communication utilizes a single source of information. Whereas high-context communication depends on nonverbal cues for passing messages, low-context communication depends on words for passing information. Lastly, whereas high-context communication entails sharing of information depending on trust, low-context communication involves passage of information with opennesses. These are just few examples of the differences that exist between high and low-context communication.


Beal, Brian. "Executive summary of "Tangibilizing service through visual, tangible cues in corporate Web sites: a six-country cross-cultural analysis”." Journal of Services Marketing 28.7 (2014). Print.
Cole, Benjamin M. "Lessons from a Martial Arts Dojo: A Prolonged Process Model of High Context Communication." Academy of Management Journal (2013): amj-2012. Print.
Croucher, Stephen M., et al. "Conflict Styles and High–Low Context Cultures: A Cross-Cultural Extension." Communication Research Reports 29.1 (2012): 64-73. Print.
Jussila, Katja, et al. "Cross-cultural differences in the Parent Rated Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS)? Evaluation of the Finnish version among high-functioning school aged males with and without autism spectrum disorder." Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders 9 (2015): 38-44. Print.
Kittler, Markus G., David Rygl, and Alex Mackinnon. "Special Review Article's: Beyond cultures or controls? Reviewing the use of Hall's high-/low-context concept." International Journal's of Cross-Cultural Management 11.1 (2011): 63-82. Print
Pruvli, Elena, and Ruth Alas. "Status Related Social Categorization: High Context and Low Context Cultural Perspective." International Proceeding of Economic Development and Researching 46.17 (2012): 91-95. Print.

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