Time

Do you know what time it is? How aware you are of time varies by culture and normative expectations of

adherence (or ignorance) of time. Some people, and the communities and cultures they represent, are very

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time-oriented. The Euro Railways trains in Germany are famous for departing and arriving according to

the schedule. In contrast, if you take the train in Argentina, you’ll find that the schedule is more of an

approximation of when the train will leave or arrive.

“Time is money” is a common saying across many cultures and reveals a high value for time. In social

contexts, it often reveals social status and power. Who are you willing to wait for? A doctor for an office

visit when you are sick? A potential employer for a job interview? Your significant other or children?

Sometimes we get impatient, and our impatience underscores our value for time.

 

When you give a presentation, does your audience have to wait for you? Time is a relevant factor of the

communication process in your speech. The best way to show your audience respect is to honor the time

expectation associated with your speech. Always try to stop speaking before the audience stops listening;

if the audience perceives that you have “gone over time,” they will be less willing to listen. This in turn will

have a negative impact on your ability to communicate your message.

 

Suppose you are presenting a speech that has three main points. Your audience expects you to regulate

the time and attention to each point, but if you spend all your time on the first two points and rush

through the third, your speech won’t be balanced and will lose rhythm. The speaker occupies a position of

some power, but it is the audience that gives them that position. By displaying respect and maintaining

balance, you will move through your points more effectively.

 

In the same way, how long should it take to respond to a customer’s request for assistance or information?

If they call on the phone, how long should they be on hold? How soon should they expect a response to an

e-mail? As a skilled business communicator, you will know to anticipate normative expectations and do

your best to meet those expectations more quickly than anticipated. Your prompt reply or offer of help in

response to a request, even if you cannot solve the issue on the spot, is often regarded positively,

contributing to the formation of positive communication interactions.

 

Across cultures the value of time may vary. Some Mexican American friends may invite you to a barbecue

at 8 p.m., but when you arrive you are the first guest, because it is understood that the gathering actually

doesn’t start until after 9 p.m. Similarly in France, an 8 p.m. party invitation would be understood to

indicate you should arrive around 8:30, but in Sweden 8 p.m. means 8 p.m., and latecomers may not be

welcome. Some Native Americans, particularly elders, speak in well-measured phrases and take long

pauses between phrases. They do not hurry their speech or compete for their turn, knowing no one will

interrupt them. [7] Some Orthodox Jews observe religious days when they do not work, cook, drive, or use

electricity. People around the world have different ways of expressing value for time.

 

 

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