indirect communication is universally used, the degree to which they are used differs across cultures as each culture elaborates it differently. Some value indirect style while others value direct talk. Direct talk is perceived as authoritarian and exclusionary while indirect talk is seen as accommodating and sensitive to individual wishes. These different perceptions depend of the different cultures.
Saudi Arabian culture is one of those cultures that are classified in which people use indirect verbal expression style. Thus, Saudi people believe that no need for everything to be said. For instance, if someone wants to have a picnic with friends, he or she would address them in “the weather is nice today”, instead of saying “would you like to join me for a picnic”. Saudi people often make an assumption that a receiver may refuse his desire, which may lead to a negative impact on the relationship.
Within one context, a shift in the level of context is communication. This varies with the level of scale. According to Hall (1976), if the shift is up the scale, it indicates a warming of the relationship or it signals that something is wrong with a relationship. For example in the working environment, a manager can communicate annoyance to the employee when he shifts from the high-context to the low context. In Saudi Arabia, this indicates that the manager is telling the employee that he has stepped out of line and his behavior is unacceptable. However, this may be interpreted differently when the situation happens in different country.
Hofstede gives five dimensions of culture and communication across cultures can be determined by these dimensions. The first dimension of Hofstede is Power/ distance which refers to the degree of inequality that exists between people with and those without power (Chen and Starosta, 1998). In a low PD society, people value themselves equal while in a high PD society some people have more powers than others. This inequality influences the kind of communication to be used. For example, a country with high PD like Saudi Arabia it is difficult for a powerless person to communicate with a person considered powerful. However, in low PD society people at all levels communicate freely. According to Hofstede (as cited in Chen and Starosta, 1998) the extent to which a culture tolerates a large power distance influences the perceived appropriateness of particular communication strategies.
The dimension of individualism/ collectivism differentiates cultures. This dimension tries to bring out how culture influence social relationships and individuals. Hofstede defines individualism as “emotional independence of individual persons from groups, organizations or other collectivities” (Yum, 1994). Therefore, people from different groups will automatically behave differently also, the way they communicate to each other. Some culture value individualism while others value social relationships. Saudi Arabia values social relationships and how to maintain them. They consider concern for a general collective body as an abstract, while North American value individualism. Those cultures that value individualism, communication is seen as an individualistic aspect. Each person communicating is considered to be a separate individual engaging in diverse communicative activities with the aim of maximizing his or her own interest (Yum, 1994).
The cultural dimension of masculinity (MAS) is the third dimension of Hofstede that refers to how much a community sticks with and values the traditional roles of men and women. In high MAS society like Japan men are considered tougher than women, and in low MAS like in Sweden, men and women work equally together. This affects communication between men and women and how they relate to each other. The way Japanese women communicate to their men is different from how the Swedish women communicate with their men. There is freely communication and with openness in a low MAS unlike in high MAS where the women need to be polite to their men when communicating to them and there is no close relationship (Chen and Starosta, 1998). Additionally, according to the scores compiled by Professor Geert Hofstede with regards to the dimension of MAS, Saudi Arabia got 52 degree which means Saudi culture nearly in the middle between feminism and masculinism (“Geert Hofstede”, n.d.).
Uncertainty/ Avoidance Index (UAI) dimension refers to the degree of uncertainty people in a society feel when facing uncertain or unknown situations. This dimension shows that some culture value detailed information and others prefer brief ones. In UAI scoring culture like in Belgium people avoid ambiguous situations and they use rule, orders or seek collective truth to get clear information.
According to Professor Geert Hofstede, Saudi Arabian society tends to be in high UAI (“Geert Hofstede”, n.d.). In other words, Saudi people tend to avoid uncertainty and ambiguity situation. Because, they belief that developing trust between people is the first step to build a successful relationship. Consequently, they try to avoid any mysterious person which may show them sometimes not tolerate.
The last dimension is long term orientation (LTO) which refers to how much a nation values long standing rather than short term traditions and values. Countries like UK do not value tradition highly and therefore, the people there are willing to help others execute most innovative plans as long as they get to participate fully. In this society, Confucianism is avoided as people are willing to offer help through effective communication (Yum, 1994). However, Saudi culture tends to use long term orientation that people try to develop the relationship connection within their society. If there had been some friends In the restraint, for example, eating dinner, every one try to pay a bill for all to show them that he or she revere them in the way to develop their friendship.
To sum up, this essay has explained how cultural values impact on communication through the process of perception with reference to Saudi culture. The Hall culture model and Hofstede five dimension models have been used to see how different cultures across the world determine how people communicate. The different communication styles have also been explained to see how culture influences them. Some countries prefer direct communication while others prefer indirect communication depending on how they value it.
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