Professional technical communicators increasingly find themselves in a negotiation situation where cultural differences have caused misperceptions or confusion concerning time (pausing, interrupting). This paper overviews an intercultural perception experiment that investigated how individuals from different cultures perceive questioning and pausing/interrupting behavior in the same videotaped Dutch-Chinese negotiation. The study, which involved Chinese, Dutch, German, French and Italian students of a similar educational backgrounds, revealed that culture can affect how different individuals perceive and interpret the same situation. For example, the "traditionally" polite Chinese appear to interrupt more often than many Western individuals might expect. And while both Chinese and Dutch observers thought the Dutch interrupted far more often than the Chinese, findings based on linguistic parameters for interrupting reveal it is the Chinese who interrupt more often. Also, both Chinese and Dutch observers thought that members of the other culture used more directive questions (used to conclude a discussion). Conversely, both sets of observers thought that members of their own culture used more reflective questions (used to gain a better understanding of what the other party is saying) than did subjects from the other culture. Moreover, the experiment found no strong evidence for a Chinese claim to be a (Confucian) culture of reflection; in fact, the Dutch subjects used even more reflective forms than did the Chinese. Thus, the results of this experiment have interesting implications concerning both intercultural negotiation strategies and areas for future technical communication research.
|Publication status||Published - 2000|