Language in International BusinessWritten by Brenda Townsend Hall
The way that we use language reflects cultural preferences for some types of communicative behaviour while discouraging others. Culture will affect, for example, extent to which we speak loudly and animatedly or quietly, whether we use lots of ‘I’ statements, whether we choose very explicit language or whether we are indirect. Intercultural, or cross-cultural, pragmatics is contrastive or comparative study of such communicative norms aiming to reach a better understanding of cultural value or values that underpin them and it is a field we can all learn from. When we help prepare managers to relocate we might usefully consider role of communicative styles as part of familiarisation process. The awareness raising could involve styles of communication: for example, very explicit language used by low-context cultures—speaker-based cultures— as opposed to imprecise and ambiguous language favoured by high-context cultures—hearer-based cultures. Situation or context also dictates language choice. In linguistics various terms have been coined for certain types of key expressions that are related to specific contexts or situations. These conversational routines/prefabricated expressions/politeness formulae/situation-bound utterances could well be useful in raising clients’ awareness about relationship between language and culture. In essence, they are expressions whose linguistic meaning is distorted because of role they have in a specific situation: linguistic meaning versus use. When a British English speaker asks question: how are you, s/he doesn’t expect a lengthy reply about state of respondent’s health. If an American says ‘let’s get together some time’, s/he may be saying no more than ‘goodbye’. If a Japanese speaker says ‘yes’ in a meeting, it is as well to understand that this is politeness dictated by situation and in no way indicates agreement or an undertaking to act. If we consider language area of agreeing, as another example, we might note how agreement is in fact signalled not so much by overt language use as by certain types of language ‘behaviour’ and by accompanying gesture and body language. The overall message is a combination of unspoken signals and carefully chosen words. Merely voicing agreement is not enough to tell you that somebody really is in agreement. This is because to express open disagreement could be difficult for all kinds of cultural reasons. In a very hierarchical society, it would be unwise to express open disagreement to a superior. In a group-oriented culture, it would be difficult to disagree if group as a whole was going in opposite direction.
Small Business Planning -- Three MythsWritten by Denise OBerry
Copyright 2005 Denise OBerry
Are you -- like 70 percent of small business owners -- working without a plan? Here are three myths that need to be dispelled about strategic planning for small business.
1. It has to be formal -- Not so.
The value of a strategic plan for your small business is in putting ideas on paper, creating action steps that will get you where you want to go and implementing those action steps.
2. I'm too small -- Not so.
Even a one-person business can benefit from a strategic plan. A strategic plan can help you make decisions about time management and budget. You can use your strategic plan to help you determine whether to attend an event or advertise in a publication. It's a check and balance tool.