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Uncovering Russian communication style preferences: Monological sequencing versus dialogical engagement

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When we communicate with others, we usually know when we are expected to contribute to an evolving dialogue, such as during a debate, or when it is suitable to generate predictable responses, for example, at a marriage ceremony. However, in cross-cultural communication situations, communicating partners may have different assumptions in this respect. In particular, when a western communicator expects a dialogical development, a Russian participant may expect the same communication situation to progress as a sequence of predictable communication acts. This clash of implicit expectations often results in communication failure, without either party realizing that implementing incompatible approaches to information sharing is the reason for this failure. In this article, I introduce the terms ‘dialogical engagement’ and ‘monological sequencing’ whilst exploring cross-cultural communication problems between Russia and the West. I use these terms to describe mechanisms that characterize both cultures’ preferred communication patterns and which, when inadvertently deployed, cause collisions between Russian and western communicating partners. By uncovering these differences, I intend to progress beyond merely acknowledging cross-cultural communication problems between the two worlds. Besides, as in the Russian cultural setting, more communication situations are implicitly expected to develop as monological sequences than similar situations in the West, understanding this particular distinction may prevent practitioners in numerous fields from making the mistake of expecting cross-cultural communication situations to develop in line with their implicit assumptions.
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Keywords: Dostoyevsky; Gogol; Russia; Russian literature; cross-cultural communication; dialogue; monologue

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 0000000093211499Tomsk Polytechnic University

Publication date: September 1, 2020

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  • Empedocles aims to provide a publication and discussion platform for those working at the interface of philosophy and the study of communication, in all its aspects. This Journal is published in cooperation with the Section for the Philosophy of Communication of ECREA, the European Communication Reserach and Education Association.
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