The Impact of Monochronic and Polychronic Time on Business

Running head: The Impact of Monochronic and Polychronic Time on Business The Impact of Monochronic and Polychronic Time on Business Shannon Bradley Shorter University The Impact of Monochronic and Polychronic Time on Business The majority of international business communication is non-verbal. Non-verbal communication uses facial expressions, hand gestures and actions instead of words. This type of communication is based on sight and not the concept of time. But a lot of managers need to realize that the concept of time is also important to doing international business and dealing with other cultures.

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The way time is perceived, structured and how people react to time an important communication tool (Chronemics, 2011). Traditionally, cultures use either monochronic time or polychronic time (Quion, 2008). Cultures can either be considered monochronic or polychronic. An anthropologist named Edward T. Hall was the first person to use the words monochronic and polychronic in referring to other cultures in 1907 (Kaufman-Scarborough, 1999). He observed that polychronic people do several things at once, while monochronic cultures emphasize doing one thing at a time (Wessel, 2009).

While doing business in other countries, managers should consider the impact of monochromic and polychromic time on business. Monochromic is a high-time (Schell & Solomon, 2009) culture is that has a very strict way of viewing time. Monochromic cultures make use of monochronic or linear time (Schell & Solomon, 2009). The use of deadlines and concise communication to get work done is very important to a monochromic culture. They like to have fixed projects and outcomes. Time is to be used efficiently and is spent on useful things.

Meetings in companies need to have an agenda, start on time, follow the agenda and finish on schedule. During the meetings actual decisions are taken and real work is done. People stick to the plan, emphasize promptness, and are accustomed to short-term relationships (Wessel, 2009). Also monochronic time use is more wide spread (Quion, 2008). The Impact of Monochronic and Polychronic Time on Business Polychronic time is the totally opposite. Polychronic people are a low time culture (Schell & Solomon, 2009). Time is more flexible to a polychromic culture.

In a business setting this means that meetings start late, with no set agenda. The work is done outside meetings. They don’t get work done by a certain deadline. Every moment is a chance to build relationships with people and to discover new things. A polychronic person can sometimes be more productive since they use their time to work on more than one task. A polychronic person can more easily adapt to jobs such as interpreters or as a receptionist who acts as telephone operator and secretary simultaneously (Quion, 2008).

Understanding monochronic and polychronic time is important to improving a person’s ability to build relationships with and understand other workers from different cultures. This can be accomplished by doing several things. Before you meet a different culture study and learn everything about them. Learn how they deal with and use time. Americans, Canadians, and Northern Europeans are a deadline-oriented, monochromic culture, accomplishing tasks one at time. While, many Latin American and Sub-Saharan African cultures (Quion, 2008) operate on a changing, polychromic time schedule.

Attitudes toward time are even different within cultures: South and Southeast Asians are considered polychronic, but Japan is monochronic, and China is in-between (Wessel, 2009). Concentrate on finding ways to combine those differences by utilizing both non-verbal and verbal cues. The Impact of Monochronic and Polychronic Time on Business Sit back and actively listen to your fellow coworkers, be it during a conference call or a face-to-face meeting. Listening is important, but active listening builds rapport, trust and respect. Listening can help you avoid misunderstandings and potential embarrassments.

Don’t use your own cultures sense of time use to judge other cultures; this is considered ethnocentrism. Socially interact with coworkers and team members to improve cross-cultural relationships. Respect personal space. Monochronic cultures can sometime appear rude, unfriendly, territorial and cold to polychronic people if they feel uncomfortable in intimate surroundings. Expect polychromic cultures to conduct business informally. If you go in deadline-oriented and thinking about keeping your personal space, expect culture shock and potential problems.

While intercultural training that focuses on one specific culture such as doing business with Japanese or how to be effective in managing across cultures is important; managers need to also understand monochromic and polychromic time. Managers must understand that other cultures perceive time differently. The attitudes toward time can have bad or good effect on all aspects of doing daily business. That why it is important to understand the impact of monochromic and polychromic time on business; especially international business Works Cited Chronemics. (2011, May 9). Retrieved Augus 3, 11, from Wickipedia: http://en. ikipedia. org/wiki/Chronemics Kaufman-Scarborough, C. L. (1999). TIME MANAGEMENT AND POLYCHRONICITY: COMPARISONS, CONTRASTS, AND INSIGHTS FOR THE WORKPLACE . Journal of Managerial Psychology, special issue on Polychronicity , 288-312. Quion, M. (2008, December 20). POLYCHRONIC. Retrieved August 3, 11, from World Wide Words : http://www. worldwidewords. org/turnsofphrase/tp-pol2. htm Schell, M. , & Solomon, C. (2009). Managing Across Cultures. New York: McGraw-Hill. Wessel, R. (2009, January 9). Is there time to slowdown. Retrieved August 3, 2011, from Rhea Wessel: http://www. rheawessel. com/clips_istheretimetoslowdown. htm

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