Resources: Notes on Life and Language in the United States

Communication and Culture | Two Different Ways to Disagree

Posted by Lindsay McMahon on Wed, Nov 23, 2011 @ 08:03 AM

communication and cultureIn today's post, we have some communication and culture tips from a current student at English and Culture. Consider this question: How are disagreements resolved in your culture? Is it done differently in your country than here in the United States? During a recent cultural training session with one of our students from Korea, we looked at the different styles of settling a disagreement in both the US and Korea. We also talked about how those different styles of disagreement might be rooted in deeper cultural values and styles of communication. Keep reading to find out this student's views on the different approaches to resolving a disagreement in the US and Korea.





How are disagreements resolved in the United States?


"As I feel in America, most Americans think that disagreements can or should be resolved through public discussion. They say their opinions against each other in public. Sometimes I feel that they spontaneously make and examine their own ideas during the discussion"



How do you resolve disagreements in South Korea?


"Most Koreans think that public discussion sometimes is not a good method to resolve a disagreement"



Why is it different in South Korea?


"The one reason is that some Koreans don't want to say their true opinions in public. They want to examine their own ideas before they express them. Another reason is that they don't want to oppose their colleague, especially an elder or supervisor, directly." 

"If you want to know a Korean's real thoughts, you'd better get an opportunity for a semi-public discussion, for example, a dinner or drinking hour after a conference or meeting. Many Koreans feel more familiar with each other and say their opinions more freely there."


- Korean student of English and Culture


Tips on resolving a disagreement across cultures:


  • Develop an awareness of your own culture and how you prefer to settle disagreements in different contexts.
  • If you are from another country and you are involved in an argument here in the US, try to learn more about cultural communication styles in the United States.
  • Don't assume that we all handle disagreements in the same way




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Topics: Cultural Competence, Cross Cultural Coaching

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