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Human Encounters

Introduction to Intercultural Communication


Øyvind Dahl

This book gives a comprehensive introduction to intercultural communication in the era of globalization. The reader is introduced to essential concepts in the field, different theories and methods of analysing communication, the importance of verbal and nonverbal languages for bringing about mutual understanding and, finally, the ethical challenges that arise.

The volume also has a practical aspect. The author discusses subjects such as handling encounters with people using foreign languages; incorporating different life styles and world views; the use of interpreters; non-familiar body language; different understandings of time; relocation in new settings; the use of power and how to deal with cultural conflicts generally.

Published in English for the first time following a very successful original edition in Norwegian, this richly-illustrated book offers a refreshing and engaging introduction to intercultural understanding.

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Chapter 10: Context and Reality: Why Are They Doing This?


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Context and Reality: Why Are They Doing This?

Two men meet on a plane from Tokyo to Hong Kong. Chu Hon-fai is a Chinese businessman who exports goods to Japan. He is on his way home. Andrew Richardson is an American purchaser who is on his first business trip to Hong Kong. The meeting seems to hold up interesting possibilities for both parties because Mr. Chu sells some of the products that Mr. Richardson has come to Hong Kong to buy. After a little chat they introduce themselves:

When these men part they have very different perceptions of the event. Mr. Richardson is very pleased to have met Mr. Chu and thinks that he has made a very good start. They’re already on first name terms and Mr. Chu’s smile indicates that he will be kindly received and easy to do business with. More specifically he is pleased that he has shown respect to Mr. Chu’s Chinese background in that he has called him Hon-fai instead of the western name David, which to use he thinks sounds rather imperialistic.

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