What makes misunderstandings resulting from conversational-style differences so hard to clear up is that we don’t have a way of talking about them. We don’t think of saying, “When my voice has that quality, it means I’m being friendly,” or “I’ll leave a half-second pause when I’m finished.” Such linguistic cues are sent and perceived automatically. All we can say is “I didn’t mean it that way,” which no one is ever going to believe if he knows that he would have meant it that way if he had said it that way. And we don’t walk away from conversations thinking, “Gee, you use pitch and intonation differently from me.” We think, “He’s in a rotten mood,” or “She’s weird.”
Another of Hofstede's categories has to do with the way national cultures relate to uncertainty and ambiguity, and therefore, how well they may adapt to change. Generally, countries that show the most discomfort with ambiguity and uncertainty include Arab, Muslim, and traditional African countries, where high value is placed on conformity and safety, risk avoidance, and reliance on formal rules and rituals. Trust tends to be vested only in close family and friends. It may be difficult for outsider negotiators to establish relationships of confidence and trust with members of these national cultures.