Brazil - Affective

U.K - Neutral

Brazil - Diffuse

U.K - Specific

Brazil - Risk Averse (but tolerant of ambiguity)

U.K - Risk Taker

Neutral versus Affective

The third dimension of personal interaction defined by Parsons is the affective versus neutral tendency. Here is where one observes the degree to which individuals from different culture express their emotions. People from affective cultures like Brazil tend to show their emotions, whereas someone from a neutral one like the U.K will appear more reserved and refrain from demonstrating emotion or feelings. This style of interrelating is reflected in the way people communicate their opinions and feelings through verbal and non-verbal communication. Verbal communication includes the tone of voice and the choice of lexicon used. Non-verbal examples include such things as eye contact, touching, and personal space. These interpersonal elements of interaction are important in terms of doing international business on the most basic level since they can build or deter trust, understanding, and likeability of clients. If business people are aware of these subtle differences it can help them avoid embarrassing themselves or offending someone.

Specific versus Diffuse

The fourth dimension, diffuse versus the specific, reflects the extent to which one allows oneself to become involved with other people. This classification is related to the previous relational dimension of expressing emotion in terms of the degree to which businesspeople allow themselves to engage with others. In a diffuse society like Brazil, closeness and confidence between those working together will be more important than a fancy sales presentation of a product or service as might be the case in the U.K. The final decision of signing a deal will reflect the relationship building that has taken place during the negotiation process. This concept of diffuse is exemplified in the treatment of clients arriving in Brazil. According to the video series "Doing Business in Brazil" (1997), visiting business people are usually picked up in person by a driver or some representative from the company for all appointments and are invited to meals and social events. In the case of the "specific" relational category reflected in the U.K., clients basically must fend for themselves by taxi and relationships are kept strictly to business. The main point in this video is that in Brazil, the key to doing business is building personal relationships and integrating oneself into the local network. The idea of private versus public space also correlates with the diffuse versus specific context. Trompenaars cites the example of a situation where if a manager or director were to encounter a subordinate in a social context completely separate from work. In a specific-oriented culture like the U.K., the two individuals would be on equal ground, the levels of professional hierarchy less significant. However, in a diffuse- oriented society like Brazil, the hierarchical space and the superiority of the higher rank would permeate more noticeably into every situation, work-related or not. Therefore, even in an encounter outside of work, the subordinate must still defer to the authority. Caution must be taken to heed the local system of hierarchy in Brazil when dealing with the social levels and status even though it is less egalitarian than the U.K. It could be offensive to a Brazilian to not respect the social distance between oneself and an inferior, especially if an American treats a chauffeur as an equal in front of his boss.

Uncertainty Avoidance

According to Brake et al., some cultures seek structural order to reduce uncertainty. An example would be Brazil, where conflict is avoided at all costs. There is a perceived need for procedures, both written and unwritten, whether they are actually followed and applied or not. Structurally flexible cultures like the US thrive on conflict and unknown situations, job mobility is more accepted and people are more willing to take calculated risks without fear of failing or saving face. David Cohen (2000) compares the cultural interpretation of the Brazilian and American concepts of failure: "the word failure in Portuguese is something tumultuous that falls apart, in English it is the state of something that is lacking or insufficient"(107) - Translated by Mary Risner. He explains the difference in definition graphically. For Americans, failure is a point between zero and success, and is considered a positive experience from which to learn. For a Brazilian, failure is on the negative side of the zero graphs and, it is considered a humiliation. This is a reflection of the structured hierarchical society that exists in Brazil. In flexible cultures, job and task descriptions are broader and individuals have more voice to make decisions, coinciding with a less hierarchical environment. The lesson to be learned when dealing with a structurally ordered society like Brazil is to avoid putting individuals on the spot about an opinion or idea for a concern or in confronting them about a problem around others.

Source: Essay UK -

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