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How do Canadians communicate?

Well, different cultures communicate in different ways and Canada is no different.

Although many people feel the Canadian communication style is familiar to them, it does have certain features which can cause challenges for foreigners.

Here, we’re going to share some insights which will help professionals working in Canada or with Canadians, better understand how to adapt to expectations.

Now before we jump in, one important point – Canada is a huge country, with a really colourful and complex culture.

There are major differences within Canada itself when it comes to communication styles so be careful not to take the information here as being applicable everywhere and to everyone.

All we are doing is looking at a few features to help build a general picture of how people communicate.


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1. Low Context Communication

Canada is what is known as a low context communication culture.

People focus on words and what is said when communicating.

Canadians therefore tend to be quite direct; they tend to say what they think and think what they say. They don’t rely very much on non-verbal cues.

Unlike in high context cultures (Japan, China, S. Korea) people do not place huge emphasis on saving face, keeping harmony and protecting feelings.


2. Positive & Friendly

The Canadian communication style is rooted in being positive and being nice.

Canadians expect a smile, direct eye contact and the appropriate greetings of the day before jumping into a conversation.

They also tend to engage in a bit of small talk before jumping straight to a point.


Candian Maple Leaf

Doing business with Canadians?

Then you need to understand the country, its traditions and its people.

Check out our blog on Core Values in Canadian Business Culture.

Photo by Guillaume Jaillet on Unsplash


3. Obligation Free

Canadians need to feel comfortable when communicating.

One way they do this is to remove any sense of obligation when asking for something.

Canadians tend to use language softeners, such as “would you mind?” or “I was wondering if you could?”

This gives people the freedom to choose an answer as opposed to being forced into one.


4. Diplomatic

Although Canadians say what they need to say, they also make a real effort to deliver a message that shows consideration.

Being respectful and diplomatic with your language is essential.

If Canadians feel a topic might be sensitive, they may imply what they want to say to try and show respect.

Showing tact in how you communicate is considered a skill in Canadian culture.


How to Effectively Communicate with Canadians

So, in answer the question, "how do I communicate effectively with Canadians?" you now appreciate that:

  1. Canadians can be direct when communicating.
  2. They are very tactful and respectful.
  3. They prefer to rely on the spoken word for meaning and expect others to be do the same.
  4. They also expect a certain level of niceness and build trust quicker with those who use a more diplomatic approach.

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 Blog image by Garry Knight