Chronometics is a subcategory of nonverbal communication that deals with the role of time in communication. It is often used in the context of cultural differences, such as contrasting high and low context cultures. Those differences in cultural views of time have a significant impact on how people communicate and interact with one another. Chronometics is one of the best ways to understand cultural differences in communication. In this article, we’ll focus on the American approach to time.
During a negotiation, the focus is on the nonverbal channels of communication (the polychronic approach emphasizes building trust, coalitions, and consensus), rather than the time it takes to reach a decision. Polychronic negotiators, on the other hand, may use emotions to cloud the most obvious solution. Likewise, high context polychronic negotiators may use time to express anger or frustration, obscure the obvious solution, or even confuse the situation.
Chronemics, a subdivision of nonverbal communication, involves the use of time to influence our activities, schedules, lifestyles, and listening abilities. Time discernment is crucial to nonverbal communication development and is an important part of time management. While many cultures differ in their time structures, there are two major categories of cultures based on time structure: Monochronic and Polychronic. This article explores both categories and their implications for communication.
Monochronic people value time as a fixed resource that cannot be changed. Monochronic cultures, dominated by Northern European and North American cultures, tend to take time literally. Monochronic people feel a sense of urgency to spend it productively. For these reasons, they are not easily interrupted and a monochronic culture’s approach may be incongruous for them. Understanding the tendencies of the other culture can help them connect in the future.
In addition to monochronic cultures, polychronic societies include native and Latin American cultures. Most of these societies do not adhere to a rigid calendar. As a result, they are not expected to stick to a schedule. In fact, polychronic cultures are more likely to multi-task and prioritize various tasks. For example, in Mexico and the Philippines, people working at a counter often have multiple clients. Consequently, they must diverge attention between two or more clients at once.
One example of a polychronic culture is the British businessman who is trying to secure a deal in Saudi Arabia. Because he does not want to waste any time, he has to wait for his partner. But he has no choice but to wait for his appointment. The meeting never starts on time, because everyone is signing documents or taking calls while the visitor is in the room. These cultural clashes are exemplified in examples such as these.
Chronemics also studies the role of time in communicating across cultures. The main question that this research seeks to answer is how people perceive time and how it affects their daily lives and work-life. In contrast, monochronic societies (the US and most of North European culture) are more standardized in their views of time, while polychronic societies tend to live in more flexible ways with time, such as with a cyclical timetable.
High context Polychronic cultures
Polychronic cultures value relationships and people, rather than things and time. These cultures are common in Latin America, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East. In these cultures, arriving late does not mean insulting or being rude. The same goes for conversations. In fact, the most common idiom in polychronic cultures is “talking stick,” which is a Spanish phrase that means “to talk.”
People from high-context and affiliation cultures are more likely to be organized and punctual than their counterparts from low-context cultures. While the difference between the two cultures is subtle, the common theme is that high-context cultures are more likely to prioritize relationships over business. In contrast, low-context cultures are more prone to break up relationships because they place importance on power. In high-context cultures, relationships are a priority, even more so than power.
As mentioned, no culture can be completely low-context or high-context, as most cultures are somewhere in between. High-context cultures share many characteristics, such as education, ethnicity, religion, history, and more. However, they are not as highly structured as monochronic cultures. High-context cultures are more likely to be more collaborative and less rigid about time. These characteristics are often a benefit for high-context cultures.
Another major difference between high-context and low-context cultures is the way they convey information. High-context cultures emphasize nonverbal signals, while low-context cultures rely on verbal and physical communication. Messages are more complex in high-context cultures because they often contain nonverbal elements like body language and ritual gestures. The most important element in high-context cultures is the underlying culture.
In addition to time, polychronic cultures handle time differently. Monochronic people are highly focused and follow schedules; polychronic people are highly distracted. High-context cultures use tabular or linear navigation to get around. In addition to this, their culture uses more complex gestures to communicate with one another, such as clicking buttons or flicking a pen. Polychronic cultures, on the other hand, prefer to navigate by a series of tabular or parallel directions.
While communicating in native language is a challenge, leaders need to learn how to influence people of different cultures. Leaders must understand how globalization affects their culture and the way people think. A pioneer in cross-cultural communication, Edward T. Hall, made an important discovery: “human communication has many nonverbal elements that help people understand rules and behaviors. These cultures are difficult for outsiders to understand because they take things for granted.
The concept of high context is a term used to describe cultures with strong social connections. The meaning of words and gestures is influenced by the culture in which they were developed. High-context cultures are deeply involved in their social environment, and they pay close attention to interpersonal relationships, physical settings, and nonverbal expressions. People transmit their messages through gestures, facial expressions, and voice inflection, which may not be obvious.
American view of time
The American view of time is quite different from that of many other cultures, but there is one universal theme: Americans value their time. They view it as an important currency and a limited resource, and so, they are very careful with their use of it. Americans like to read books about how to be more productive, so they often turn to productivity tips. Here are some of the common misconceptions about the American view of time. Let’s dissect them and determine how they apply to you.
The American view of time differs significantly from that of other cultures, especially from northern Europe and Switzerland. In fact, the attitudes towards time in these regions are diametrically opposite, resulting in intense friction. In contrast, Swiss and Italian cultures view time differently. The Thai do not assess the passage of time the same way as Japanese do. In Britain and Madagascar, time passes more slowly, which means that there is less time for action and fewer opportunities for social interaction.
In other cultures, time is structured differently. In other countries, such as Guatemala, buses may be hours late, but people are not stressed by delays. People from ancient civilizations have a different view of time, because they did not think in terms of time scales. Chronomics, the study of time, looks at how people use time. Chronological factors such as punctuality and patience in waiting are examined. Chronomics also looks at whether or not a person’s behavior has an impact on the perception of time.
In contrast, monochronic societies value the sequential completion of tasks and treat time as a valuable commodity. They value the completion of tasks and routines and view time as a tangible, measurable commodity. Monochronic cultures include the United States, Germany, and Scandinavian countries. However, their view of time differs significantly from the United States. While Americans value time in their day-to-day life, others are more interested in their daily routine.
While Americans view time in terms of future and past, other cultures do not. The French and British have different views of time. While the French and the British are known for their present-orientation, the Japanese are known for their past-oriented view. Sioux people, on the other hand, do not have a term for time, and Chinese people prefer the past. But all of these cultures view time differently. That’s what makes them so fascinating.
Despite American culture, it is still possible to be late in some circumstances. Many of us make schedules, so being late is unprofessional, and it reflects poorly on our social and professional status. While many Americans may be able to accommodate being five minutes late for a meeting or an appointment, the norm in these cultures is to arrive fifteen minutes before the agreed-upon time. But in social situations, this isn’t expected. Generally, arriving 15 to 30 minutes before the time you agreed on is considered acceptable.