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Human Encounters

Introduction to Intercultural Communication

Oyvind Dahl

This book gives a comprehensive introduction to intercultural communication. 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 bodylanguage; different understandings of time; relocation in new settings; the use of power and how to deal with cultural conflicts generally.

Published as a general textbook in English for the first time following a very successful original edition in Norwegian, also translated to Russian and French, 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?


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:

mr. richardson: “By the way, I’m Andrew Richardson. My friends call me Andy. This is my business card.”

mr. chu: “I’m David Chu. Pleased to meet you, Mr Richardson. This is my card.”

mr. richardson: “No, no. Call me Andy. I think we’ll be doing lot of business together.”

mr. chu: “Yes, I hope so.”

mr. richardson (Reading Mr Chu’s card: Chu Hon-Fai): “Hon-fai, I’ll give you a call tomorrow as soon as I get settled at my hotel.”

mr. chu (smiling): “Yes. I’ll expect your call.”

When these men part they have quite different perceptions of the event. Mr Richardson is pleased to have met Mr Chu and thinks that he has made a very good start. They are 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...

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