Cross-Cultural Communication

Topics: Communication, Culture of Bulgaria, Japan Pages: 7 (2398 words) Published: January 21, 2013
Cross-Cultural Communication Research Paper
Bulgaria versus Japan
Ivan Ivanov
November 30, 2011
MBA 501: Business Communications & Research Methods

According to Benjamin Whorf’s theory (1956), the nature of the language we speak affects and determines our behavior and way of thinking. Japanese is a very good example of how this theory works. Japanese people use their language in a completely different way from anyone else and their behavior makes sharp contrast to the rest of us. From Japanese point of view our way of communicating is confusing and rude. The reason why is very simple - communication conventions between Bulgaria and Japan have noting to do, all the signals besides the language and as a result of it the body language, silence and manners are completely different. Japanese is hard to understand, it looks ambiguous and vague and people sound vague just for being polite. They introduce their statements with long phrases and use impersonal verbs. As a result you just cannot understand what they are referring to. Lewis, R. (2006) gives a good example how a Japanese boss would ask his subordinates to tidy up their offices: "As we have some important visitors coming at twelve o'clock and since we wish them to get the best impression of our company, perhaps we could improve the orderliness around here". A Bulgarian boss would say it without any specific introduction: “Tidy up your office, please”. Something quite natural for Bulgarians like reporting other people's statements seems unappropriate to delicate Japanese. Lewis (2006) shares that his secretary in Japan has refused to give information about the information of his incoming calls and has asked him to ring back the caller. Independence versus interdependence

Bulgarian culture values the suprimacy of the individual over the group, separate from the others, which contrasts with the Japanese collective consciousness and behavior. Bulgarian way of expressing opinion is definitely individualistic and very often begins with “I think” or “in my opinion”, on the opposite of “We Japanese” (“Wareware nihonjin”). The individual is basic in the Bulgarian culture and even cooperation and teamwork start from personal desire and choice. Working in a team is more a wish and a direction to follow than a real everyday practice in Bulgaria. Sharing responsibility and keeping everyone informed about small details is not something we are used to. The first given impression can be of egotism versus modesty, although Condon & Masumoto (2011) offer another point of view: “Saying “we” can be a way of subordinating one’s own view, and saying “in my view” may be a way of indicating one doesn’t presume to speak for others”. Instead of the wide-spread Bulgarian reaction of finding a sin offering, in Japan no matter if it's a failure or success, the individual is always associated with the group. The Japanese way of expressing opinion is to always put “We” before “I”, the only natural thing for them is to think first of their relationship with others. As Mole, J. (2003) describes it, “We of this family, we of this school, we of this nation, or just “we” who are together in a room talking. One is never fully independent; one must always be conscious of others”. Different level relationships share reciprocity, help, even gifts. Lewis endorse this opinion, stating that “the Japanese represent their company, which is part of their group, which in turn represents Japan”. In addition, Beamer, L. & Varner, I. (2008) explain it as "emphasis on duty, obligation, and loyalty rather than on rights". Harmony versus competition

Japanese relationships are rather consensual, trying to avoid any conflict at the cost of not to say “no”. Bulgarians are full of energy people, but their individual approach pulls in different directions within a company. As Lewis, R. (2006) states, “If there is one key to...

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Lewis, Richard D.. ( © 2006). When cultures collide: leading across cultures, third edition. [Books24x7 version] Available from
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Mole, John. ( © 2003). Mind your manners: managing business cultures in the new global europe, third edition. [Books24x7 version] Available from
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