Canadian Culture

Communication

Francophones and Anglophones differ slightly in their communication patterns. Besides their different languages, English-speaking Canada is slightly more reserved than French Canada in most of its behavioural norms. For example, Anglophones are generally less comfortable interrupting others and speak in softer volumes. On the other hand, people from Quebec tend to use more expansive gestures, are slightly more tactile and keep a smaller distance of personal space between one another. They also use formal pronouns more frequently. You may find yourself becoming livelier and more animated when in the company of French Canadians. Nevertheless, while the following information on communication describes the Anglophone majority, it still holds true for much of Francophone behaviour as well.


Verbal

  • Communication Style: Canadians are relatively indirect communicators; they try to avoid creating conflict by taking careful measures to remain polite throughout discussion. This usually involves making hints that vaguely communicate their message without ‘rocking the boat’. Nevertheless, communication is not so indirect that one has to decipher it. Canadians tend to speak clearly enough that their intention and meaning is often apparent through careful word choice. They tend to disagree openly but respectfully.
  • Linguistics: Canadians often punctuate sentences with the word ‘eh’ (pronounced ‘ay’).
  • Interruptions: People generally consider interruptions to be rude and do not appreciate them.


Non-Verbal

  • Eye Contact: Eye contact should be maintained directly and broken intermittently. People often make enough eye contact to show their sincerity, but do not hold it for long durations to the point it seems scrutinising. Neglecting to make eye contact during a conversation can signify boredom or disinterest.
  • Physical Contact: Canadians tend not to touch each other much during casual conversation. Good friends may hug, but people are generally not tactile with those they are not close with. A man showing a great deal of physical contact to a woman (particularly in the workplace) can be seen as sexual harassment.
  • Personal Space: Canadians do not appreciate it when others invade their personal space, and often keep about an arm’s length distance between themselves (as well as in crowded situations, such as queues).
  • Gestures: Canadians tend not to gesticulate very much during conversation. However, most usually enjoy conversing with those who do as it gives the impression that the person making them is very interested in the conservation.
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