Sample Essay on High and Low Context Framework of Communication

High Context, Low Context Framework of Communication


Communication is an important factor that many nations rely on to solve problems that arise between them. They also depend on this technique to strengthen location and international relations among them. The major factor that affects means of communication is the cultural aspect. Research has shown over the years that culture plays an important role in the modes and means of communication between human beings (Kitler, 2013). This is because cultural values, norms, believe, and practices vary from one region to the next. Therefore, culture determines the overtness of message and how individuals use non-verbal cues as well as how messages are interpreted. Moreover, culture plays an integral part in an individual’s locus of control and how they interact within the communities and how they bond.  This paper is an analysis of how low context and high context framework by T. Hall explain differences in communication and negotiation practices between countries.

Countries use communication as a means of creating relationships between one another. However, there are sections of nations that rely on low context communication while other prefers the high context frameworks of communication to solve their problems and carry their negotiation techniques. These two perspectives of communication possess different characteristics. For example, countries that rely on low context communication framework expect communication to have an individualistic culture in it (La Rosa, 2013). This means that according to such nations, the individual nation receiving the communication should be in charge of comprehending and interpreting what it means for proper understanding. This framework also has other characteristics such as verbal based understanding of the communicated information.

The verbal based understanding of low communication context requires that negotiations between nation and individuals from these countries should comprise of straight talk. They should be direct and explicit in their intentions to pass any form of message between one another. In this instance, the countries expect each representative to be explicit and very straightforward about their information. No lose end are expected or guesswork from the receiver of the message (California State University, 2011). This form of negotiation expects that the communication possess a speaker oriented style. This means that the person conveying the information must ensure that the message is clear and conveyed to the recipient properly.

Countries that normally use the low context framework of communication include Germany, Switzerland, United States, Canada, Australia, Denmark, Sweden, and United Kingdom. By looking at this list of nation, it is clear that they possess different cultural backgrounds, therefore, the will definitively expect a given set of behavior and paradigms when conveying information at a negotiation table. These nations use the individualistic style of communication when conversing with one another. For example, a representative from Germany will constantly use the word “I” in his or her speech. This shows the stance of one person or the nation (Jackson, 2014). They include the self-face concern in their negotiation. This factor coupled with the individualistic aspect makes it clear to the nations in the negotiation round what one country expect from the other. These two strategies act as symbols of speaking one’s mind during communication.

Culture is a very important aspect in this form of communication and a look at this content shows that the nations that rely on the low context communication tend to share similar aspect of cultural values. When conveying information between one another, all these countries expect a high degree of logic (Chang, 2006). Thus, the spoken word should be logical to the receivers and make coherent sense so that there is no room for distortion. Any communications between individuals from these nations require that any piece of information should be fact based, direct and action oriented.

According to people from a nation such as the United States, one cannot just states anything without any proof of actuality. They also expect people to follow the communicated event with an action with the aim of ascertaining the nature of truth and reliability. For example, when Germany is negotiating trade relations with Switzerland or any country that uses low context form of communication. They expect to see an action such as a follow up meeting and signing of the deal. Before this, either country must show proof of being able to do as they clay in their negotiation (Zhu & Zhu, nodate). In order to be quite clear in their communication, these countries use explicit clear words and expect their recipients to take them quite literally. In this setting the communicators and negotiators based their decisions on fact and not intuitions. Finally, the most important aspect of this context is that they will always conclude their negotiation by using clear contracts. The contracts should be direct and precise without leaving any important hint behind otherwise no agreement is reached.

High context communication

This is a form of communication used by nations such as Africa, Asia, Middle East, South America, Japan, China, and Vietnam. Their communication is characterized by factors such as relational, contemplative, intuitive, and collective. In this setting, the countries believe in working together as a group. They believe in formatting solid relationship with one another while undertaking different aspect of negotiations. In many instances, these nations will always use the word “we” to show a unity of purpose with one another (Hong & Martinez, 2014). They value long lasting relationships and will always work hard to maintain this kind of unity with one another.

They show a lot of sensitivity while passing information from one person or nation to the next. This factor considers other issues such as the effect the communication will have on the receiver. The high level of sensitivity brings about the factor of listener-oriented style whereby the recipient of the message should take charge of interpreting the information conveyed. High context communication relies more on the understanding of the perspective of the spoken communication as well as the implied meaning of the information. These countries require that their negotiations be status oriented. That is they should recognize the position or status of the person or nation that hold the communication. In this respect, such an entity must be accorded high respect (Clemensen, 2010). In this regard, African and Asian countries refer to the use of dignifying words such as your Excellency or the prime minister to show the status o the speaker.

The countries also rely on other styles such as self effacement, indirect and mutual face concern while communicating with one another. In this respect, the speaker must be self explanatory and the spoken information must be indirect in nature in order to rightly serve the recipient. Any form of communication that takes place between these countries should have an aspect of mutual consent. This means that no one entity is forced to agree with the ongoing negotiations, however they must be in harmony to reach an understanding.

Culture also plays an important role in this form of communication. For example, no interruption of someone’s speech. A county like Japan finds it rude to be interrupted when passing information. Similarly, people from low classes are not expected to take part in the negotiation activities. It is wrong to have any low class individual contributing towards matters such as international relations between the two nations that conform to the high context communication strategies.

Based on the collectivist or group oriented nature of communication, these countries, or people from their environment emphasize important and solid interpersonal relationships. The first step they take in any business or regional negotiation is the development of trust. A closer look will reveal that most of these countries have common developmental activities with each other. They receive donor funds and other supports from one another based on the interpersonal relationships they have with each other. In the event that this relationship is jeopardized, one country will always break ties with the other. Hall (1990) states that these countries prefer group relationship that works in harmony as compared to individual status. Individuals from these countries are governed more by intuition or feelings than by reason. They use fewer words and focus more on context such as the tone, body language and other non-verbal expressions of the speaker.

The ongoing discussion indicates that Hall’s high context low context communication influences negotiation between countries from a cultural perspective. Many country align with given cultural believes and actions which affect the way they convey communication. For example, one culture requires speaker’s especially female speakers to take a backstage and should not approach a congregation of men while other cultures accept that women should state their viewpoints on matter affecting them and their nations. Communication in this form is either considered from a group’s perspective or an individual’s perspective. These forms of communication affect negotiation based on the strength of context, individuality, and collectivism. The manner in information gets to the receiver is also important in the way Hall’s communication strategies affect negotiation between nations

According to Hall (1990), interpretation of the spoken word varies depending on the speaker and the recipient. In the same way, some countries explicitly explain their thoughts, views and requirements so that the receiver of the message may get clear instructions and know the important steps to take. However, other countries easily pass information and require the recipient of the information to interpret the meaning of the word communicated to them. On the other hand, some countries rely on status during negotiations and expect that they be treated based on their prominence while other does not. They instead depend on the ability to seal deals based on actionable facts. To such countries that use low communication context, actions are more important than words.

Face negotiation theory

A part from using high context and low context communication, countries may also use face negotiation theory for conflict resolution and decision making while agreeing on business or other relational terms. Face negotiation theory is a phenomena used to explain how cultural difference in people and among nations can be used to influence conflict management. Stella Ting-Toomey, who is professor of human communication at California State University in (2000), put this theory together. She stated that the differences in handling conflicts could be a part of maintaining a ‘face’ in the community or society. The “face” as used in the theory is supposed to signify the status of the nation in the context of negotiation. Manu countries belong to groups that uphold the status quo of the nations they relate. Some other countries come from cultures that only consider individual ranks and do not care about the positions of other nations in the society.

Research done by Cohen (1991) states that face negotiation theory is best used by countries that prefer collectivist strategy. These are people from cultural backgrounds that believe in working together as a group to ensure the success of one another. These countries also work hard to maintain the status of their fellow members even if they have made an offense. This theory works best as a conflict resolution tool for people and nations that embrace each other because it gives them the chance to take the varied cultural expectations into account during negotiation periods.

Research shows that the use of this theory can lead to loss or gain of a nation’s face. This means that the country can either receive negative or positive documentation. In many cases, nations of different cultures use face negotiation theory to solve conflicting circumstances. The main aim during the conflict resolution procedure is to maintain a good name for each country. This theory requires the importance of holding socio pragmatism context in communication action o as to practice competent face work. Socio pragmatism takes into account the perspective of culture based expectation concerning factors such as language, social settings, identity roles, statuses, and other communicational techniques from the present personalities.

The benefits of using face negotiation theory during intercultural communications is that it shows greater concern for self-face and the faces of others. This theory states that it is imperative to understand the importance of a face for an individual and how beneficial is it to maintain a face, which in turn will reflect on to the others. This phenomena state that individuals from a collectivistic or group culture usually avoid or integrate the conflict whereas people who are more individualistic oriented dominate the conflict as to maintain an independent face in the society. Another important aspect of the face negotiating theory is status in the society, which generates power. In Collectivistic, society people are born into certain status quo and their individuality is less concerned. In a more individualistic society, people earn their power to live in the society.

All nations have a status to hold especially during international negotiations. It is important for countries to save their names, identity, and international status in order to be at par with other nations. In this case, countries that conform to the group element of communication context usually ensure that they not only consider the identity but also those of others. They believe that helping one nation preserve its status in the community is important for business and other international relations activities. This ensures that every country aims to create effective relationships with each other for a better tomorrow.

Face negotiation theory is a method that is mostly preferred by countries that prefer collective nature of communication. They believe that supporting pone country to maintain its identity is important. This is because they believe that togetherness is important. This theory makes it possible for these countries to overlook other issues that might hinder their development and relationships with other. Countries that conform to the individualistic context of communication do not care much about maintaining the face or status of other nations. This is because, in an individualistic society, nations or people tend or think of themselves as being more superior to others.


Communication is an important aspect of any cultural settings. Where there is communication, it expected that conflict would easily occur. Countries conform to different styles of negotiation such as high context and low context frameworks of communication. Based on the differences, the nations use varied methods of negotiations and conflict resolution. According to Hall, the inclination towards high or low communication context influence negotiation strategies based on intercultural differences and expectation. A side from using the two frameworks, nations may also rely on face negotiation theory as a baseline for negotiation and conflict resolution. The proposers of this theory sates that it works best for people from cultural backgrounds that values group dynamism. This is because this phenomenon takes status of each country into account. It aims to facilitate negotiations that maintain the cultural or international status of a country or people. The theory also considers cultural difference of the people involved in the communication activities. Hall’s theoretical framework is integral in understanding the differences in communication and negotiation approaches in different cultures


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