Cross-cultural Communication

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The paradigm of culture is essential in the human day-to-day conversation of cross-cultural communication. To communicate with an individual of a different culture an individual needs effectively and appropriately to fully understand the beliefs, norms and stereotypes affiliated with the culture. The process of learning a language accompanies the positives and negatives of what is acceptable within the culture in the context of communication.

All communication is cultural — it draws on ways we have learned to speak and give nonverbal messages. We do not always communicate the same way from day to day, since factors like context, individual personality, and mood interact with the variety of cultural influences we have internalized that influence our choices. Communication is interactive, so an important influence on its effectiveness is our relationship with others. Do they hear and understand what we are trying to say? Are they listening well? Are we listening well in response? Do their responses show that they understand the words and the meanings behind the words we have chosen? Is the mood positive and receptive? Is there trust between them and us? Are there differences that relate to ineffective communication, divergent goals or interests, or fundamentally different ways of seeing the world? The answers to these questions will give us some clues about the effectiveness of our communication and the ease with which we may be able to move through conflict.

The challenge is that even with all the good will in the world, miscommunication is likely to happen, especially when there are significant cultural differences between communicators. Miscommunication may lead to conflict or aggravate conflict that already exists. We are cultivating cultural fluency – awareness of the ways cultures operate in communication and conflict, and the ability to respond effectively to these differences.

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