Communication styles and culture
People from western cultures tend to get directly to the point. Their communication tends to have a logical and linear structure. Sermons have a clear structure, and in face-to-face communication people don’t beat around the bush, but get right to the point.
Middle eastern people tend to eventually get to the point – after slowly spiraling in, having prepared the listener for the message. Sermons are lengthy, and face-to-face conversations take a long time before delicately getting to the heart of the matter.
People from eastern cultures tend to not get to the point at all. They will talk around and around the point, never directly mentioning it – but by constantly circling around it, they will make clear what they’re really talking about. Sermons seem to go around and around, and in face-to-face communication people never seem to say what they really mean.
You can see that each way of communicating actually has a nice side to it. In different ways, each of these are trying to be considerate…
However people of one culture can become incredibly frustrated (and even angry) about the communication styles of other cultures. Westerners can appear blunt and rude, while Easterners can seem manipulative and untrustworthy. Sometimes that’s because sin can cause people to become selfish and demanding in their communication.
Not only that, people tend to think that their own communication style has an inherent rightness about it. But this isn’t the case – and you can even see some of these differences coming out in the writing of the different apostles in the Bible. Paul for instance is logical and direct in his writing – like the Western linear style. And John’s letters tends to go around and around – like the Eastern circular style.
[ PS: I saw this diagram in a library book back at Moore College – but unfortunately neglected to write down the reference… ]