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Cross Cultural Network/Mobile Communication Issues

In the impressive list of coverage announced by Alain Yee-Loong Chong, Editor in Chief of the International Journal of Network and Mobile Technologies (IJNMT), the very last topic is “Cross cultural network/mobile communication issues.” But just why would this prestigious journal feel that cross cultural communication issues are worthy of coverage?

As Chong explains, “The aim of International Journal of Network and Mobile Technologies (IJNMT) is promote, address and capture innovative and state of the art research and work in the network and mobile technologies field,” encompassing everything from businesses to entertainment.

Let’s look at this a little deeper.

Non-verbal communication “speaks” much louder than words. Research shows us that a mere 7% of communication takes place with words.

The next most important means of communication is Voice Tones. While these can generally be interpreted correctly by those of the same culture and language, such is not always the case. Yet, tone is what is what technology is trying to connect with in network and mobile technologies.

Yet, it doesn’t stop there. The remaining 55% of communication has nothing to do with the words spoken or how they are said. Instead, more than half of communication is physiological consisting of the impact of:

  • Physical space
  • Clothing and appearance
  • Locomotion
  • Posture
  • Gesture
  • Facial expressions
  • Eye contact
  • Touch
  • Paralanguage

Of these, only paralanguage can be captured in vocal communications as this covers features that accompany speech and contribute to communication but are not generally considered to be part of the language system, such things as vocal quality, loudness, and tempo. Yet, even it can also include facial expressions and gestures.

Why are these things important? Let’s take just one example that changes cross-culturally: Eye contact.

In the U.S., making eye contact is considered a means of judging whether a person is speaking honestly, if they are truly interested in you or what is being said, or lacking self-confidence. Thus, eye contact – or the lack of it – in the U.S. is vitally important in taking the measure of a person.

What about eye contact in the rest of the world? Isn’t it the same? Definitely not.

In some European countries, especially in Spain, France and Germany, like in the U.S. it is considered proper and polite to maintain almost constant eye contact with another person during a business exchange or a conversation. But venture into many Middle Eastern cultures eye contact is much less common and considered less appropriate, especially in Muslim cultures where strict rules regarding eye contact between the sexes exist. In such countries only a brief moment of eye contact would be permitted between a man and a woman, if at all. Of course, in many other Middle Eastern cultures intense eye contact between those of the same gender—especially between men—can mean “I am telling you the truth! I am genuine in what I say!”

Eye contact in many Asian, African and Latin American cultures is treated far differently. In these countries extended eye contact can be taken as an affront or a challenge of authority. In general, it is often considered more polite to have only sporadic or brief eye contact, especially between people of different social registers (like a student and a teacher, or a child and his elder relatives).

For example, if a Japanese woman avoids looking someone in the eyes, she is not showing a lack of interest nor is she demonstrating a lack of self-confidence. Rather, she is being polite, respectful and appropriate according to her culture.

Obviously, these social nuances are far outside the realm of technology, yet they do need to be taken into account when technology is developed in various cultures around the world. Thus, the inclusion of “Cross cultural network/mobile communication issues” is not only a necessary but also a logical inclusion in the list of subject matter considered by the International Journal of Network and Mobile Technologies.

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3 Responses to “Cross Cultural Network/Mobile Communication Issues”

  1. Jen Says:

    So helpful and so useful post Cross Cultural Network/Mobile Communication Issues. Thanks for such informative post. Good job.

  2. Dr. Alain YL Chong Says:

    Hi, I am the editor of International Journal of Network and Mobile Technologies. Thank you for the posting and the article. I do hope more people will submit interesting papers related to cross cultural network/mobile communication issues, as it is indeed an emerging research area in the field of network and mobile computing.

  3. admin Says:

    Hello Dr. Chong,

    It is an honor to have your presence here. As a college instructor in cross cultural business communications, I urge my students to become aware of all aspects of their communication. We are so lax in our attitudes in mobile communication, I feel this is an area where businesses can easily cause unintended business relations problems.

    Thank you,
    Jenn