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Write an essay discussing factors that affect interpersonal communications, and outline and discuss consequences of cultural misunderstandings in business environment. In your essay focus on the following areas: 

i. Culture and interpersonal communication, perception of self in interpersonal communication.

ii. Hearing, listening, and active listening in interpersonal communication.

iii. Verbal, nonverbal, emotional, and conversational messages.

iv. Consequences of cultural misunderstandings. 



Interpersonal communication in a business environment is affected most of the time, by the culture of the individual. The culture of the individual includes things like race, ethnicity, gender, socio-economic class and even by the sexual orientation of the individual. In the modern day, the interpersonal communication is not only influenced by the culture of the individual, but also at the same time, technology influences it as well (Hybels 2014). Thus, according to various scholars and critics, three things influence the modern day interpersonal communication and these three things are power, technology and the culture of the organization. There can be more than one reason behind the failing of the interpersonal communication between two individual. The problem is such a kind of problem that could be overcome and that too, with the help of few simple methods.

Factors Affecting the Interpersonal Communication in a Business

Culture and interpersonal communication; perception of self in interpersonal communication

Interpersonal communication in the simplest way could be defined as a conversation that is taking place between two or more people. Interpersonal communication, although, is more than that and it incorporates not only the conversation that takes place between individuals. The interpersonal communications, according to various critics and scholars, have certain characteristic features (Wood 2015). Among these features, interpersonal communication includes, independent individual, who have his or her own individual viewpoint, motivation, expectation and culture. Therefore, each individual interprets a communication in a unique way. The culture of the individual is an important part in the life of the individual and thus it has an influence on the communication that is being carried on between the individuals. It is true that there cannot be one unique definition of culture; but culture is seen as something that helps in influencing the perception of the individual (Knapp, Vangelisti and Caughlin 2014). Therefore, culture, according to researchers is a dictator of organizing and interpreting a particular mode of communication.

The social scientists believe that in case of the interpersonal communication the self or the self-perception or concept plays an important role. The self-concept of the individual makes the individual either shy or extrovert and it affects any kind of communication and even business communication (Danish 2015). Social scientists believe that the relationship that is being developed by the individuals is often shaped by the self-perception that individuals have about their own self.

Self-perception has often being described by the social researchers as something that is subjective in nature. It is the reflective though of an individual about who are he/she and this particular perception is filtered in nature (Archiopoli, Ginossar, Wilcox, Avila, Hill and Oetzel 2016). Thus, many times the individual, due to their self-perception, does not acknowledge the talents they have in them. It is also being regarded as something that helps in shaping the behavior and the self-image of the individual; and therefore, it influences the interpersonal communication largely.

Hearing, Listening and Active Listening in Interpersonal Communication

Interpersonal communication is not only important but it is a fundamental component of developing inter-personal relationship between the people. In a business communication, the interpersonal communication plays an important role because without proper communication the individual will not be able to express himself/herself correctly. Different researchers and statistics have shown that people spend most of their time, communicating with each other.

(Figure 1: Figure showing individual spends most of the time communicating

Source: Lane 2016)

The social scientists are of the opinion that most of the time most of the people, during any kind of communication, give more importance to listening. According to these scholars, while people are communicating they give more emphasis to listening and they spend most of the time listening to other people’s talk only (Bodie and Crick 2014).

The social scientists believe that truly, in a communication, listening to other people is an important thing, but prior to that, there is one more thing that should be given equal importance and that is hearing. Hearing is that thing, and if one need to describe hearing then one could say that hearing is a passive, physical process, although the process is a very natural process (Floyd 2014). Researchers believe that people tends to believe those things that they want to hear. Therefore, in case of any kind of communication it is important that the person concentrate and be attentive while hearing to the talk of the other people. It is only then the receiver in the communication could focus on something.

Listening is the second most important thing that helps in developing an interpersonal relationship during the time of interpersonal communication. Listening can be defined as something that is not only physical process but also a mental process. Listening means that one should accurately receive and at the same time accurately interpret message in the communication process (Koenig Kellas, Horstman,  Willer and Carr 2015). Thus, plays a key and vital role in the communication process, and if effective communication is not develop between people then that will leads to misunderstanding and often there can be a breakdown of the communication that is taking place.

Active listening helps in improving the communication system between two people. In case of active listening, the people at the receiver’s end not only concentrate on listening to the things that are being said by the people, but at the same time, the receiver tries to understand the message that is being conveyed (Bodie, Vickery, Cannava and Jones 2015).

Verbal, Non-Verbal, Emotional and Conversational Messages

Interpersonal communication not only depends on things like hearing, listening or active listening but at the same time it depends on other things like, verbal and non-verbal communication (Grebelsky-Lichtman 2016.). Verbal communication is an arena, which include more than one thing, the things that are there include, things like clarification and listening. Verbal communication is something that is not at all isolated from the non-verbal mode of communication. Verbal communication includes things like clarity of speech, and some of the basic things of etiquette, helps in aiding the process of verbal communication (Samovar, Porter, McDaniel, and Roy 2015). During any kind of verbal communication, especially in a business environment, one of the most important things that are required is politeness, calmness and at the same time, effective verbal communication depends on the focused point of view.

During an interpersonal communication, the non-verbal communication plays the most important role and it comprises of not only facial expression but at the same time it include things like, tone of voice and appearance (Burgoon, Guerrero and Floyd 2016). During interpersonal communication emotion and attitudes at times plays an important role. Therefore, in case of interpersonal communication, when emotions and attitudes are playing their roles then the non-verbal communication is the appropriate way of communication (Ekman 2004). Researchers believe that human emotions and behavior has its display, during the time of communication. The display of the emotions plays an important role in reducing the nature of the emotions. Thus, during non-verbal communication the people should converse in such a way that they could control the emotion and this should control of the emotions should occur consciously, controlling not only emotion of the self but also the other people in the conversation is important (Karthik 2016). For example, to control the emotion of the other, one could hold up his/her hand to stop the other person who is speaking.

The non-verbal conversational message depends on things like the body language and vocabulary. Things like crossing the legs, leaning forward to show assertion and backward for repulsion, are some of the ways of conversing with each other in a non-verbal way.

Consequences of Cultural Misunderstanding

Today’s organizations or the business environments are mostly cross cultural or multi-cultural in nature. Therefore, while carrying out any kind of business communication in the organization one has to be very careful. Due to cultural misunderstanding, lots of confusion could take place in an organization and it could often leads to anger. The anger among the employees could actually affect the productivity of the organization and thus it could affect the profit maximization process that is there within the organization (Ting-Toomey 2012). The cultural misunderstandings arise due to various reasons and among those various reasons one of the most common reason is that whatever is pleasant in one culture may not be equally pleasant in the other culture; in fact in a different culture the same gesture could actually refers to something that is rude in nature. For example most of the time in most of the country the thumbs up symbol is a positive symbol but this particular gesture is not only a rude gesture in the countries like Australia and Nigeria but also it is an insulting gestures for the countries like Bangladesh.


The success of the business depends not only on the strategies taken by the organization but at the same time, it depends on how the strategies are communicated to the employees working in the organization. Therefore, in a business environment the interpersonal communication plays an important role. The interpersonal communication develops an interpersonal relationship among individual but this particular concept is not at all an easy concept and it include many things. Thus, the improvement of the interpersonal communication is important and only then cultural misunderstandings that may take place within an organization could be avoided; otherwise, it could lead not only to conflict, but at the same time to anger as well. 


Archiopoli, A., Ginossar, T., Wilcox, B., Avila, M., Hill, R. and Oetzel, J., 2016. Factors of interpersonal communication and behavioral health on medication self-efficacy and medication adherence. AIDS care, pp.1-8.

Bodie, G.D. and Crick, N., 2014. Listening, hearing, sensing: Three modes of being and the phenomenology of Charles Sanders Peirce. Communication Theory, 24(2), pp.105-123.

Bodie, G.D., Vickery, A.J., Cannava, K. and Jones, S.M., 2015. The role of “active listening” in informal helping conversations: Impact on perceptions of listener helpfulness, sensitivity, and supportiveness and discloser emotional improvement. Western Journal of Communication, 79(2), pp.151-173.

Burgoon, J.K., Guerrero, L.K. and Floyd, K., 2016. Nonverbal communication. Routledge.

Danish, M., 2015. Reflection of self image, self perception and self management in communicating organizational culture. International Journal of Physical and Social Sciences, 5(10), pp.117-127.

Ekman, P. (2004). Emotional and Conversational Nonverbal Signals. Language, Knowledge, and Representation, pp.39-50.

Floyd, K., 2014. Empathic listening as an expression of interpersonal affection. International Journal of Listening, 28(1), pp.1-12.

Grebelsky-Lichtman, T., 2016. Verbal versus nonverbal primacy Children’s response to parental incongruent communication. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, p.0265407516651158.

Hybels, S., 2014. Communicating effectively. McGraw-Hill Higher Education.

Karthik, K. (2016). Consequence of Cross Cultural Misunderstanding – A Shipboard Perspective. 1st ed.

Knapp, M.L., Vangelisti, A.L. and Caughlin, J.P., 2014. Interpersonal Communication & Human Relationships. Pearson Higher Ed.

Koenig Kellas, J., Horstman, H.K., Willer, E.K. and Carr, K., 2015. The benefits and risks of telling and listening to stories of difficulty over time: Experimentally testing the expressive writing paradigm in the context of interpersonal communication between friends. Health communication, 30(9), pp.843-858.

Lane, S.D., 2016. Interpersonal communication: Competence and contexts. Routledge.

Samovar, L.A., Porter, R.E., McDaniel, E.R. and Roy, C.S., 2015.Communication between cultures. Nelson Education.

Ting-Toomey, S., 2012. Communicating across cultures. Guilford Press.

Wood, J.T., 2015. Interpersonal communication: Everyday encounters. Nelson Education. 

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