Cultural Difference Essay

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COM380; Interpersonal Communications
18 May, 2011
Critical Thinking Probe
In the past, I had interviewed several Iraqi locals that I worked with during my time in their country. The awareness of cultural rules that were presented for us to provide integration into their country was lacking in many areas, including the nonverbal rules that varied greatly from the more “free” American style. First, the shaking of hands, which in America is almost always considered the norm for meeting and greeting. While there are no differences in the actual contact, there is not the immediate shaking of hands that occurs in American society. Hand shaking will usually only occur, initially, amongst leaders or spokesmen for a group. This is also done more as an understanding; similar to the custom of “shaking on it” that is less commonplace in today’s society. Another custom in America is the constant eye contact, or staring, that occurs as an indication of attention being provided to the speaker. In Iraq, eye contact is acceptable amongst two individuals during private conversation, but the requirement to maintain eye contact does not extend beyond. It is considered a requirement that activity continue during conversation, and it is not rude for one person to talk constantly while others are working and not making any verbal or nonverbal confirmations that they are listening. A third interesting custom in Iraq is that of time. I worked with a crew of 10 men who were from the local village and came to work each day for the Army. These 10 explained that time is a definite in their culture. If someone says they will do something, it will either include a time or not, as opposed to Americans who indicate “maybe, soon or sometime.” This definitive culture is because of religious tenets that dictate when things will occur in their country. Meal times occur at a given interval, prayer times also, while work does not require certain times to be...
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