A Comparative View of Vietnamese and U.S American Values
Intercultural communication and differences among cultures is something that I have been interested in since I began in my communications major. I had never been directly affected by intercultural boundaries until I began working at an after school program in Elk Grove. Many of the families that I work with are Vietnamese and it has been difficult for me to communicate with them due to our language/culture boundary. My lack of understanding and apprehension has made it so that I do not communicate with the parents at all but rather use the children (who speak English) to communicate with them. It is important to develop a relationship with the parents at my job and this particular cultural boundary had not allowed me to do so. I plan on studying this topic further in order to give myself an understanding of their culture and values so I am better able to communicate not only at work but in other aspects of my life. I find it fascinating how different the attitudes, beliefs and norms are among cultures and I believe that it is important to recognize these differences in order for any two cultures to get along. Although it is a challenge, there are steps that can be taken to improve the way we interact with cultures around the world and to help us to better understand how to successfully communicate with other cultures in different situations. In this paper I will focus on the Vietnamese culture and values in comparison with that of the United States. I will discuss their values/orientation and explain how these cultural values affect the way they communicate with one another.
U.S. Americans value their time. Unlike the Vietnamese, time is money and their goal is to get as much accomplished in as little time as possible and still make the biggest profit. In regards to the value of time, efficiency and progress are often in expense of creating or maintaining interpersonal relationships. It is immoral to waste time and there is more of an emphasis on “doing”. The U.S is a very goal oriented country and the people have a lot of energy. They believe that they have the right to control nature, their own environment and destiny; they do not believe that their future should be left up to fate. Change is seen as positive, meaning progress, improvement and growth. U.S Americans believe that regardless of past or present the future will be much better and bring much more happiness. They are constantly looking ahead to tomorrow eagerly waiting for what it may bring. Not satisfied with what they have now but thinking about what they can get that is even better tomorrow. Americans firmly believe that you can only trust people who look you directly in the eye and tell you how it is. Truth is the function of reality not circumstance. Relationships are not seen as a priority. It is more common to see an uncensored, casual attitude between people and in their relationships.
Vietnamese culture is almost completely contradictory to that of the United States. Hofstede has developed the idea of ‘cultural dimensions’ and refers it to the common elements of a culture or the key issues of a culture that can be studied and analyzed in meaningful ways. (Paulus 2005) He outlined these cultural dimensions as: power distance: the extent to which the hierarchy and social order plays a role in communication, individualism vs. collectivism: an emphasis on "I" and individual achievements versus an emphasis on the group achievements as a whole, masculinity vs. femininity: the extent to which traditional male and female roles are followed and valued, uncertainty avoidance: how a culture will adapt to changes and cope with doubt within a situation and long-term vs. short term orientation: an emphasis on developing relationships that are oriented toward future rewards versus emphasis on immediate gratification. (Paulus...