Intercultural communication usually has draw concern from a large number of socialists around the world who want to analyze the communication styles from various cultures. They aim to help people avoid “culture shock” when living and studying abroad. In the light of that, cultural differences in communication are considered the factor preventing the successful communication among people from different culture. To illustrate to this to, I am going to analyze the following extract in which there are disparities among communication styles between the West and the Afghanistan located in central Asia-the representative of Eastern countries. The example as below: In the compounds, people spent all their time with the group. As far as I can tell, none of my Afghan relatives was ever alone or ever wanted to be. And that’s so different from my life today, here in the West. Because I write for a living, I spend most of my walking hours alone in my basement office. Oh, I jog, do errands, see people I know – but mostly, it’s just a man and his thoughts in a blur of urban landscape. If I’m too much with other people, I need to balance it with some downtime. Most of the people I know are like this. We need solitude, because when we are alone, we’re free from obligations, we don’t need to put on a show, and we can hear our own thoughts.
My Afghan relatives achieved this same state by being with one another. Being at home with the group gave them the satisfactions we associate with solitude – ease, comfort, and the freedom to let down one’s guard. The reason for this is hard to convey, but I’m going to try. Namely, our group self was just as real as our individual selves, perhaps more so. - Tamim Ansary -
Initially, the first different characteristic between the two societies that I can realize in the extract is the difference of low- and high- context cultures. Edward T. Hall was an anthropologist who made early discoveries of key cultural factors. In particular he is known for his high and low context cultural factors. Hall defined high-context as “most of the information is either in the physical context or initialized in the person, while very little is in the coded, explicit, transmitted part of the message.” Besides, low-context communication is “the mass of information is vested in the explicit code”. The most prominent factor that Tamim mentioned in the extract is the importance of in groups and out groups in high and low contexts. He compared his Afghan relatives with him who was living in the West. It is easy to distinguish the cohesion and the separation of groups in Afghanistan which is included in high - context and the West which belongs to low - context. According to Hall, in a high context culture like Afghanistan, there is a strong distinction between in group and out group and a strong sense of family. That is the reason why Tamim’s relatives like spending all their time with the groups. On the other hand, in the West where Tamim is living, he just spends time jogging alone because in the low context culture, it is flexible to change from groups to individuals when it is needed. Tamim does not want to join in any group as he just focuses on his job – writing for living so he needs time to be alone. People bonds are also a factor that I want to analyze from Tamim’s experience. When his relatives attach much importance to people bonds with affiliation to family and communication, he and many people he knows seem not to pay any attention to this. In a high – context culture, the commitment between people is very strong and deep, and responsibility to others takes precedence over responsibility to one self. It can be understood that Tamim felt it is tired when he must act and behave follow many rules, rituals and expectations which he called “obligations”. Obviously, when we live in a high – context culture, people bonds and commitment to relationships make us behave more carefully in order...
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