elderly man and woman as a couple standing in front of a wood pile

Non-expressive versus expressive

The communication cultural value that prefers to emphasize non-emotional communication and to hide feelings is the neutral or non-expressive cultural dimension. The affective or expressive cultural dimension prefers expressive communication and sharing feelings.

The geographic cultural value clusters for the neutral or non-expressive cultural value dimension are Confucian Asia, Eastern Europe, Germanic Europe, and Nordic Europe. Anglo countries and Southern Asia emphasize both non-expressive and expressive cultural values. Arab countries, Latin America, Latin Europe, and Sub-Saharan Africa prefer affective, expressive communications, and sharing feelings.

If you are working in a cultural cluster that prefers a non-expressive value you can expect people will not reveal what they are thinking or feeling. Gesturing or strong facial expression is rare and even discouraged. Statements are read in a monotone voice. Emotions may be stored up and will occasionally explode. A person with a very cool and self-possessed conduct is admired.

When you are the opposite of and working with a neutral and non-expressive person, then put as much as possible on paper before a business meeting. Be ready for discussions that focus on the objective and not on you as a person. Realize that a lack of emotional tone does not mean they are bored or disinterested. Simply realize a neutral and non-expressive person does not wish to reveal their position or show their hand. My students from the western Pacific rim did not make much conversation after class. They did not ask questions or discuss the course.

When you work in a cultural cluster that is affective and expressive orientated then expect emotions to flow easily and without inhibition. A heated and animated discussion is admired. Touching, gesturing, and strong facial expression are common. The expectation is that transparency and expressiveness reduce tension. After class, my expressive Latino students often asked questions and talked a great deal.

If you are interacting with an affective and expressive individual, then be prepared for a conversation focused on you as a person and your relationship. The object or purpose of the meeting can wait. Try to respond warmly to their goodwill and enthusiasm. Even if they readily agree or vehemently disagree at the moment, they do not have their mind made up totally yet.

Your assignment in this step is to conduct an internet search for expressive and non-expressive emoji. What did you learn from this search?

Next, join in the discussion of the comments from other learners. Finally, mark this step complete.

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Develop Your Cultural Intelligence

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