Northeastern University Effective Communication and Cohesive Society

Part 1:


The communication between the German hosts, the Turkish and the Indian guests is a reflection of intercultural communication inflexibility, cultural misunderstanding, and unconscious incompetence of cultural differences. One issue in this communication is that they all had expectations for each other and evaluated each other with their own cultural standards or scripts. People usually prefer to judge the behaviors of individuals in strange cultural group with their own cultural scripts (Ting-Toomey & Chung, 2012, p. 35). The German hosts expected their guests to arrive on time for the meeting while the Turkish and the Indian guests expected the hosts to give presents for them. But they let each other down, because they came from different cultural groups and were on the stage of unconscious incompetence (Ting-Toomey & Chung, 2012, p. 31). Without being knowledgeable to strangers’ culture, their expectations with each other are doomed to fail. As Ting-Toomey and Chung (2012) described, “cultural group membership differences” can lead to “mismatched expectation,” and individuals feel frustrated in miscommunication (p. 33). The other issue is that they lacked appropriateness in communication. For example, the Turkish guest might feel right and proper to keep holding the host’s hand when talking while the German host apparently cannot concur with his behavior. Similarly, providing pork to the Turkish guest was also proper in the culture and standpoint of the German host. However, their behaviors, in fact, were not proper and were equal to be ethnocentrism, which easily led to miscommunication.


It is evident that the characters in the video are all inflexible in intercultural communication. However, flexible intercultural communication is essential for businesspersons who do business with strangers from various cultural groups or communities. Thus, the German hosts, the Turkish and the Indian guests need to notice the importance of being inflexible intercultural communicators and try to practice appropriateness, effectiveness, and adaptability in intercultural communication.

The recommendation for all of them is that considering they are going to sign the contract on the second day, they need to learn counterparts’ business etiquette and use communication skills based on the setting and context of business. According to Ting-Toomey and Chung (2012), the way of thinking and acting will be interpreted in interactive situations (p. 36). Moreover, they all seem to have no knowledge of counterparts’ culture. They had “no culture-sensitive knowledge” and were unable to communicate with the counterparts in a new and different cultural community (Ting-Toomey & Chung, 2012, p. 31). Thus, they should show their willingness and attitude of learning culture from each other, along with focusing on ethnorelativism.

For instance, the hosts should pay attention to the interpersonal rituals in Turkey and India, such as preparing presents for them and offering diets in Turkish and Indian styles. In this way, the guests will feel valued. Also, the guests need to learn the culture of punctuality and show up on time.

Part 2:

After making an appointment one month in advance, the business meeting is planned to be held in Germany on July.20. There are five characters in this video: two Germans hosts, a Chinese trainee, an Indian guest, and a Turkish guest.

According to Ting-Toomey and Chung’s (2012) statement, intercultural conflict often starts with different expectations concerning appropriate or inappropriate conflict behavior in an interaction scene (p.181). There are four main contradictions I found in this video:

1. The difference in time concept. In order to show respect, the hosts arrived 15 minutes in advance and waited patiently. However, the Indian and Turkish guests were late in arriving 50 minutes after the appointed time, and they believed that it followed the way of German-style. Emblems can contribute to intercultural misunderstandings or conflicts (Ting-Tommey, 2012, p.141).

2. The difference in meeting manners. In order to alleviate the embarrassment of meeting, the Germans performed a friendly handshake with guests, but they did not know that in the Indian etiquette system, shaking hands would cause discomfort. On the other hand, the Turkish has been enthusiastically holding Miller’s hand for a long talk, which made Miller feel very strange and inappropriate. Ting-Tommey and Chung (2012) Some of the emotional frustration often stems, in part, from cultural differences, mismatched expectations, or ignorance (p.33).

3. The difference in exchanging gifts. Both Indian and Turkish guests brought gifts with their own national characteristics to hosts, but they were very surprised that the Germans did not prepare gifts.

4. The difference in eating habits. I found that the Turkish guest was afraid of eating pork, which goes against his eating habits. It is a mistake Germans made without considering the eating habits of the guests.

Before the meeting on the second day, I suggest that the German hosts, Turkish and Indian guests should take the following actions:

In fact, in a follow-up interview, the Chinese pointed out what he found discordant, which may lead to the failure of the negotiation. Therefore, he should review the problems that occurred in the business meeting with the German host and advocate taking action to change:

a) the German host should prepare gifts with local characteristics and return them to the guests the next day. Although they did not give gifts when they met, they should follow the rules of courtesy and exchanges and make remedies. b) be sincerely apologize to Turkish guests for eating pork by mistake, and ask the guests if there are any taboo foods, so as not to repeat the same embarrassing situation the next day. c) As a business organizer, Germans should have a more active attitude to embrace the guests’ culture.

Indian and Turkish guests should arrive at the meeting place on time on the second day in a special car arranged by the German host. And they need to be familiar with the contract during the break today to avoid misunderstanding problems. One more addition: They should respect the German meeting culture. In different environments, different measures should be taken. Obviously, the Turkish guest noticed that the Germans were unhappy at the beginning of the meeting. He should maintain a humble attitude to explain why he arrived later than the agreed time. Regarding the question of dietary taboos, I think he should take the initiative to inform the Germans.

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