The common ways individuals of a specific community bond and perpetuate their culture and traditional practices are through language, gestures, interactions, and spoken and written words. According to Nameni (2020), communication is viewed through a person’s cultural lens, and each communicator tends to be ethnocentric when using their native language. Therefore, when people of various beliefs interact, they evaluate other cultures’ traditions and customs centered on how they view the situation through their self-cultural lens. When interacting, individuals employ their self-assumptions about an event unless insightful about the opposite beliefs’ conventions. For instance, as Zulianello, Albertini, and Ceccobelli (2018) state, “the spread of elements of populist communication in Latin America is considerably lower in comparison with Western countries” (p. 439). Building the interaction practices that correspond to specific cultural environments is a characteristic feature of any region with individual historical, political, and other development peculiarities. This paper aims to compare communication practices between Latin America and Western culture and identify the major differences in interpersonal interaction approaches.
When comparing the Latin American culture to western beliefs, one can identify some distinctive aspects. Dolunay, Kasap, and Keçeci (2017) remark that, in their formal conversations, Americans chat about jobs, mutual friendships, weather, and previous experiences, specifically those shared by individuals with whom they are dialoguing. They tend to avoid talking about issues they regard as personal, such as age, income, and the wages they are paid for tasks (Dolunay, Kasap, & Keçeci, 2017). Latin Americans, conversely, regularly indulge in conversations even with persons they casually know (Zulianello, Albertini, & Ceccobelli, 2018). This indicates more open communication patterns compared to those in Western culture.
Furthermore, western people desire interactions that are encompassed of short sporadic conversations between speakers. For instance, American rituals, such as greetings, are usually kept at a minimum. Conversely, residents of the Latin American region regard these traditional forms of interaction as more significant and pay more attention and time to them (Kitzberger, 2017). Americans tend to support their arguments with pieces of evidence and facts, but for Latina Americans, proofs are insignificant in informal interactions since the main focus is on maintaining warm and harmonious relationships.
Traditional Views on Conversations
When comparing Latin American to American beliefs, the latter has a significant tolerance for ambiguity. They are open to the assumption that there are further explanations to the situation and are flexible to adjust whenever issues arise (Dolunay, Kasap, & Keçeci, 2017). In addition, the researchers believe that in strict context beliefs, the significance of interactions between individuals is vital (Dolunay, Kasap, & Keçeci, 2017). Therefore, as Kitzberger (2017) argues, to preserve such a principle, Latin American culture allows flexibility. Equally, the Americans desire total control over their surroundings and exactness. In presenting suggestions and ideas for a development project, western people directly ask if the audience disagrees with the proposal. Hence, an American who opposes the idea would openly communicate a contrasting opinion. Instead, Latin American residents would ask the audience if the idea is acceptable and direct criticism is usually disregarded.
The Latin Americans tend to hedge their conversations for connections, while the Westerners desire directness and honesty during interactions. Therefore, in their relationships, Americans allow disagreements, which is perceived as natural (Dolunay, Kasap, & Keçeci, 2017). However, in Latin American culture, direct negative responses are discouraged because they would instigate discomfort in the speaker and the listener. According to Kitzberger (2017), residents are not inclined to answer unambiguously to requests that they obviously cannot fulfill. While honesty is an essential principle amongst Americans, numerous cultures globally do not appreciate such straightforwardness because this behavior may be regarded as harsh, disrespectful, and rude.
Moreover, when Westerners handle tasks and aim to achieve efficiency, they tend to rush the process and are regarded as insensitive to vital family issues. The Latin Americans, conversely, perceive their tasks more freely and prefer to converse about personal issues (Yama & Zakaria, 2019). The Americans, in turn, believe that this is time-consuming to indulge in conversations that are not direct and usually have an immoderate concern about how other persons feel. Hence, Westerners are considered insensitive to an individual’s feelings in favor of their benefit.
Paralanguage as an Evaluation Criterion
Paralanguage refers to such factors of speech as pitch range, articulation, and accent. In America, for instance, individuals tend to focus on accent and tone variation, which is almost similar, while in Latin America, people convey their opinions while raising the pitch of their voices (Kitzberger, 2017). In addition, the practice of attitude towards silence is associated with paralanguage. For instance, the Westerners refer to their attitudes to refuse things, while the Latin Americans employ these perceptions to express consent (Kitzberger, 2017). Paralanguage is, therefore, a vital form of communication practice that is distinct between the two cultures in question.
There are distinctive features in communication practices between the Latin Americans and the Westerns, which have been crucially impacted by cultural peculiarities, including customs and traditions. In Latin America, attitudes are shaped due to the significance of conversations. Conversely, American culture is a low-context one, and connotation is least impacted by events and individual’ feelings. Interaction practices are a social issue that research should assess extensively to understand their impacts on a specific community, and the comparison of the two cultures under consideration confirms this.
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Kitzberger, P. (2017). Against the current: The emergence of a media democratization policy agenda in Latin America. Global Media and Communication, 13(3), 229-248.
Nameni, A. (2020). Research into ethnocentrism and intercultural willingness to communicate of Iraqi and Iranian medical students in Iran. Journal of Intercultural Communication Research, 49(1), 61-85. Web.
Yama, H., & Zakaria, N. (2019). Explanations for cultural differences in thinking: Easterners’ dialectical thinking and Westerners’ linear thinking. Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 31(4), 487-506. Web.
Zulianello, M., Albertini, A., & Ceccobelli, D. (2018). A populist Zeitgeist? The communication strategies of Western and Latin American political leaders on Facebook. The International Journal of Press/Politics, 23(4), 439-457. Web.