How To Create An Effective Cross-Cultural Training Program Article Questions Cultural Differences In Communication Style – Why Arabs Are Not Effective Communicators In Estonia

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Cultural Differences In Communication Style – Why Arabs Are Not Effective Communicators In Estonia

We all know that our success in life depends on how good we are as communicators. New immigrants often believe that just learning vocabulary and grammar will make them effective communicators in Estonia and solve all problems. However, eventually they noticed that they had disagreements and conflicts everywhere. By observing the cultural differences in communication styles and practices of new immigrants in Estonia and other European countries, I have recorded many cultural differences that lead to conflicts and misunderstandings instead of success.

Recently we saw a case in the media where a group of Arabs tried to change their driver’s licenses in Estonia, however, causing a media incident by threatening the officials . The main reason for the conflict is that although the Arabs speak Estonian, they use a very different way of communication than the Estonians. It will be very interesting to see how the officials try to explain the regulations according to their own direct communication style, however, because Arabs and Estonians have very different listening and speaking habits. , the Arabs did not get the message but saw it as unfriendly behavior and responded with threats. For Estonians, on the other hand, it is difficult to understand that speaking voluntarily and with a raised tone can show sincerity in other cultures and thus they often see it as an aggressive behavior.

There are many cultural differences in low and high communication contexts, how to approach other people, how to say what is appropriate, in body language, in direct and indirect communication styles as well as in values ​​and ethics. The officials who analyzed the situation claimed that the Arabs did not listen to them, that they talked about irrelevant things, did not obey the rules and threatened the officials. The customer servants often claim that the Arabs do not understand the meaning of the word “no”, they do not get that it means “something that cannot be done”. They think they just need to explain longer and come back the next day with a larger group and speak louder. According to my experience Arabs often use the same communication behavior repeatedly in different situations in Estonia even if they do not achieve their goals.

Arabic and Estonian cultures can be distinguished in terms of direct versus indirect communication styles. Estonian culture’s preference for clear and direct communication is evidenced by common expressions such as “Ära keeruta!” (Don’t beat around the bush), “Räägi asjast! (Get to the point). As we can see from these two examples Estonians use fewer words to express these phrases than English speakers that means they prefer to get to the point as quickly as possible without wasting time because that’s how they feel when someone talks too much about “irrelevant” things. context communication, (such as Arabic) much of the “burden of meaning” appears to fall on the hearer. In low-context cultures (such as Estonian), the burden of accurately and fully conveying the meaning of a person’s spoken or written message is perceived by the speaker (Hall, 1976) Estonians are not good at understanding or following the real purpose of the indirect message and they perceive it as a waste of time.Witnessed I have the many conflicts arise only because a person from another culture just talks for too long.

The direct style tries to represent facts accurately and avoids emotional feelings and suggestive allusions. The indirect style of communication, which is more common among Arabs, is, on the contrary, ambiguous and rich in emotion. The desire for accuracy is not as important as creating emotional resonance. For Estonians, it is difficult to understand that speaking loudly and raising the tone can show sincerity in other cultures and therefore, they usually consider it as aggressive and hostile behavior.

Although the Arabs are considered representatives of the indirect style of communication, the Arabic language seems to be in many ways more direct than English or Estonian. For example, in Estonian you cannot tell someone “I want it!” or “You have to do this!”. Instead, one often paraphrases it as a question or uses the conditional mood “Ma sóiksin… ” (I would like to have…), “Kas oleks özössin/kas ma saaksin…? ” ( Can it/ can it…?). In those cases the Arabs tend to use the structure of the Arabic language in a direct way which may shock the officials, customer servants as well as all other people in Estonia because it is aggressive. In addition, like the German language there are familiar and polite forms of saying “you” (Sina – Du, Teie – Sie) and in the official context of communication between strangers only the polite form is always which is used as it can maintain distance and performances. respect This is definitely another reason why Estonians consider the communication style of Arabs to be aggressive.

Currently we are only training officers and customer servants on these issues to reduce cross-cultural conflicts in Estonia, however, this does not make new immigrants more successful. announcers. In ordinary language courses language teachers are unaware of cultural differences in communication styles and cannot teach skills. Estonian language course books are not designed to teach cross-cultural communication or how to be successful in business and life. This is why we offer relevant seminars and training materials for new immigrants to increase their cultural awareness and teach them how to achieve their communication goals in Estonia.

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