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High Context Countries


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High Context Countries 2024


Like most Asian countries, Japan is considered one of the most high context countries. Japanese communication culture can best be described as indirect and implicit. This is supported by the Japanese culture of Ba no Kuuki wa Yomu (shortened to Kuki O Yomu), which means reading the air.

Generally, the custom encompasses the idea of being aware of your own social status, reading behavioral signals and understanding the situation without words, and also putting yourself in another person's shoes to get a better sense of their feelings.


China is also on the list of high context countries because its culture is influenced by Confucian elements (benevolence, propriety, righteousness, etc.). The country leans towards collectivism, and harmony within the group is important.

Chinese social culture avoids direct communication because it can be socially awkward and uncomfortable. Saving face is an important concept in Chinese society as it allows one to retain honor.


French society places importance on social status and conformance to behavioral norms. Like with most high context countries, the people in France communicate formally and diplomatically. Communicating with the French requires one to have both verbal and non-verbal skills. That's because you'll also have to observe facial expressions, tone, gestures, and posture when interacting with the French.


Russia is a high context country with a culture that revolves around collectivism and interdependence on group relationships. Russians employ a communication style that relies on environmental, non-verbal, traditional, and symbolic cues when communicating. These rules of communication are understood without being explicitly stated.


Spain has a high context culture because any verbal interaction occurs through the lens of who said it, where they come from, how they're saying it, and the emotions and motives behind the words.

The people of Spain can extrapolate meaning through non-verbal communication because they value well-developed relationships. Therefore, they are always aware of the context and environment when conversing with others.

Saudi Arabia

Most Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, are very high context countries. Again this means the business and social communication culture in Saudi Arabia relies not only on what is said but on other communicative cues, such as facial expressions, body positioning, the use of silence, and tone of voice.


Brazil, along with other Latin American countries, has a high context culture with collectivist societies. While Brazilians are very friendly with foreigners, they'll typically not include them in their inner circle because they won't understand the conversational nuances.


Most Mediterranean countries are considered high context countries, and Italy is not an exception. Italian culture has a collectivist view that emphasizes emotions, family, and group relationships. Open displays of affection, vigorous handshakes and hugs are a normal part of Italian culture.

The people of Italy also rely on body language, especially hand gestures, when communicating. However, it's important to follow social norms and rituals. For instance, it's important to know which side to start with when kissing on the cheek.

South Africa

South Africa's high-context culture is predominant among the black community. Each tribe in South Africa, whether Xhosa, Zulu, Pedi, has its own communication culture, though there are some similarities.

Generally, elders are respected, and extended family systems are prevalent. South Africa's traditional communication culture also relies on rituals, proverbs, and conversations with veiled meanings. This also applies to most African countries.

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Which countries are considered high context?

Countries that rely heavily on unspoken context clues in communication include South Africa, Italy, Brazil, Russia, Saudia Arabia, France, Japan, and China.

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