Differences in power and social status also affect the dynamics of interpersonal behavior and the potential intimacy or level of formality of relationships. In some cultures, people are assigned a higher social status in relation to their age, economic wealth, education, profession, or birth order. For example, in the Chinese language, the eldest sister is addressed with a special word that conveys respect Signs and symbols often assume different meanings in different cultures. Posture, social cues, and facial and idiomatic expressions all influence interpersonal relationships.
In interpreting people’s behavior, it is important to be aware of cultural differences that may have a powerful effect on the dynamics of interpersonal behavior. Lack of understanding of these differences often undermines the impact of well-meant communication efforts.
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In the health care field, understanding how cultural variables and interpretations affect interpersonal behavior has a positive influence on communication that may lead to better patient outcomes, increased patient compliance to treatment, or a better chance for disease control in a given group or population, to name just a few potential positive effects. Compares examples of different aspects of culture that may influence interpersonal relationships and communication during a health care related encounter.
Interpersonal behavior is usually affected by social needs and factors as well as cognitive processes that may vary at the individual level. Both of these factors play a key role in how information is shared, evaluated, processed, and absorbed.
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