Meeting and Greeting
Canadian Communication Styles
It is difficult to specify any national trait in terms of communication in Canada due to its regionalism and cultural diversity. However, there are some basic communication styles that are fairly standard across the country. For example, businesspeople are generally polite, easy-going and somewhat informal.
In general, communication is” moderately indirect” perhaps reflecting an amalgamation of both North American and British tendencies. Although most Canadians can disagree openly when necessary, they prefer to do so with tact and diplomacy. Their communication style is essentially pragmatic and relies on common sense. If you come from a culture where communication is very direct, you may wish to soften your demeanour and tone so as not to appear threatening.
Communication styles vary most between Anglophone and Francophone parts of the country. Francophones are generally more indirect than Anglophones, although less so than the French. They also tend to be more exuberant than Anglophones. Anglophones do not generally interrupt someone who is speaking. They consider it rude not to let a person complete their thought before entering the discussion. Francophones are more likely to interrupt another speaker.
Canadians communicate more by the spoken word rather than non-verbal expressions. Non-verbal expressions are only really used to add emphasis to a message or are part of an individual’s personal communication style.
Canadians like their space and prefer to be at an arm’s length when speaking to someone.
Canadians are reticent to discuss their personal lives with business associates. They expect people to speak in a straightforward manner and to be able to back up their claims with examples. They do not make exaggerated claims and are suspicious of something that sounds too good to be true.
Canadians begin meetings with a minimal amount of small talk although one should expect to spend a few minutes exchanging pleasantries and the like. In Quebec there may be more time spent on relationship-building.
Meetings are generally well-organized and adhere to time schedules. They tend to be informal and relaxed in manner even if the subjects being discussed are serious. When meeting with Anglophones, meetings may seem more democratic as all participants will engage and contribute. Meetings with Francophones, due to a greater respect for hierarchy and position, may revolve more around the most senior attendees.
Meetings in Canadian companies are used to review proposals, make plans, brain-storm and communicate decisions. Attendees will generally represent a variety of levels and experiences; all are expected to express opinions.
When presenting information, it is important to have facts and figures to substantiate claims and promises. Canadians are essentially rational and logical and thus they will not be convinced by emotions, passion or feelings.