Culture As A Barrier To Communication
Each of us is exposed to people from other cultures on a regular basis, in the workplace, in our social activities, at school, or even within our families. Our culture hinders us from getting our message across as well receiving the full message that others want to convey to us. This article expound on three aspects: what culture is, the main causes for cross-cultural misunderstandings, and the attitudes and skills that we need to communicate cross-culturally.
When we think about culture we first think about a country, and particularly about its food, art, customs, and patterns of behavior. These are the outward manifestations of a system of values, assumptions, and deeply rooted beliefs. Culture emerges as a group of people face and then react to the challenges of life. The responses to those challenges that are successful are taught and shared among members of the group and are passed on from the older to the younger members. Culture is then learned through experience.
You can think of culture as having three levels:
? The top level is the outward manifestations, the artifacts: visible behavior, art, clothing and so on.
? In the middle level are the values. These are invisible rules that cause the artifacts
? The most powerful dimension of culture is the implicit cultural assumptions. These assumptions lie so deep that they are never questioned, stated or defended
Culture also exists among Americans, but what are the implicit cultural assumptions of Americans? Some of the most distinctive characteristics of the American culture are: individualism, equality, competition, personal control of the environment, self-help concept, action orientation, informality, directness, practicality, materialism, and problem-solving orientation.
These American values and deeply rooted beliefs are very different from other country's values and beliefs. The implicit cultural assumptions of Americans are often opposed to those of other cultures. When individuals from different cultures run into each other's values and beliefs, cross-cultural misunderstandings take place.
People constantly interact with people who have similar views and who reinforce their beliefs. To be able to distinguish between the in-group and the out-group is of central importance for individuals because it allows them to find an identity as to who they are and who they are not.
In the book entitled Cross Cultural Encounters , Brislim states: "If individuals have out-groups whom they can blame for troubles, the in-group is then solidified since there is a common goal around which to rally." Later on he says: "Individuals become accustomed to reacting in terms of in-group and out-groups. They continue to use such distinctions when interacting with people from other cultures whom they do not know."
This in-group/out-group distinction provides us with the basis for ethnocentrism, which is the tendency to interpret and to judge all other groups, their environment, and their communication according to the categories and values of our own culture. We are guilty of ethnocentrism when we hold that our view of the world is the right one, the correct one, and the only one.
We are all familiar with stereotyping, which is one of the most serious problems in intercultural communication. Our tendency to hold beliefs about groups of individuals based on previously formed opinions, perceptions, and attitudes is often a defense mechanism, a way of reducing anxiety.
There are many other causes of cross-cultural misunderstanding: lack of trust, lack of empathy, and the misuse of power. All of us know what they are about and the turmoil that they cause. But, how can we do a better job at communicating among cultures?
The same skills that we need to communicate in general apply to cross-cultural communication. Lets look at some of those skills:
Know yourself: Identify your attitudes, your opinions, and the biases that we all carry around. Identify your likes, your dislikes, your prejudices, and your degree of personal ethnocentrism.
Take time: Listen to the other person and allow him or her to accomplish their purpose. Don't jump to conclusions. Some times we finish the thoughts and ideas of the other person before he or she has finished talking. Some cultures non-verbal styles call for periods of silence and long pauses.
Encourage feedback: Feedback allows communicators to correct and adjust messages. Without feedback we cannot have agreement. First we must create an atmosphere where others are encouraged to give us feedback. Again, don't be afraid of silence. It could be the appropriate feedback at times.
Develop empathy: The grater the difference between us and others, the harder it is to empathize. To develop empathy we must put ourselves in the other person's place. By becoming more sensitive to the needs, values, and goals of the other person, we overcome our ethnocentric tendencies.
Seek the commonalities among diverse cultures: Despite our cultural differences we are all alike in many ways. We need to seek that common ground to establish a bond between ourselves and the rest of humanity.
Although our own ethnocentrism might have hindered us from getting to know people from other cultures, let us be more than ever committed to help ourselves and others overcome the barrier that culture creates. Let us endeavor to minimize the occurrences of cross-cultural misunderstandings as we develop the attitudes and the skills that are needed to communicate cross-culturally.
Dori Kelsey is owner operator of SpainExchange. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Spring Arbor College (Michigan) in Management and Organizational Development, and a Master of Liberal Studies from The University of Toledo (Ohio). Through her 25-year career in the United States she acquired professional experience in the fields of international education, employment and training, and human resources development along with effective skills in the development and coordination of programs and the provision of services to foreign nationals.
As owner operator of SpainExchange, she has developed educational tours of Spain, school exchanges, and customized training programs for various schools, universities and educational services. All programs have successfully met the clients' objectives as they provided relevant learning as well as enjoyable activities for the participants.
Advertising by textad.biz
Go Ahead, click an ad, you know you want to.
Cross Cultural Communication & PR
The Public Relations (PR) industry is responsible for creating and maintaining relationships between clients and customers. Through areas such as brand management, advertising, media relations and crisis management, PR practitioners seek to foster interest, trust and belief in a product or company.
Top Ten Tips for Writing your Best Press Release Ever
Keep these few crucial details in mind when writing and submitting your press release to increase your chances of news coverage:1. If you are not the news: become the news.
Between Now and Economic Recovery
There's still time to review your public relations program like Navy flight crews go over a fighter jet.Reason is, you need to fine-tune your public relations activity looking forward to a snap-back in the economy, when you'll need all guns blazing.
Public Relations Productivity
Should it be measured in "publicity by the pound," or by how well external audience behaviors help achieve the organization's key objectives?I opt for holding public relations responsible, first, for recognizing that people act on their perception of the facts leading to behaviors about which something can be done. And second, for how well its practitioners create, change or reinforce that opinion by reaching, persuading and moving-to-desired-action those people whose behaviors affect the organization.
The Feeding Tube for Your Business
There are a lot of things that make a business full of clients and running smoothly.We all know you need a constant stream of clients.
Marketing-Minded Financial Planners, Focus on Main Points During an Interview
You never want to inundate a reporter with information, but you don't want to be branded a one-trick pony either. That's why I recommend coming up with three key points for every interview you do.
So, How Do I Answer That?
How you answer questions depends on many factors. Example what type of situation is it.
Asian Media Relations: Increase Your Profile and Image in China
China's media is booming creating opportunities for marketing-savvy businesses. But many companies have little understanding of how to harness the power of the media in the world's most populous country.
The Ratings are Coming
Small businesses have always known the importance of word of mouth. Many successful businesses have been built on word of mouth referrals, and many have been killed by bad word of mouth.
The Three-Mile Radius
In last year's animated film Shrek II, a giant gingerbread man steps on a building and sends all the customers scurrying across the street. The name of the establishment they leave and the one they run into is "Farbucks" - poking fun at the fact that an unending stream of patrons appears willing to pay four bucks for a cup of coffee.
Five Publicity Buckets For Marketing-Minded Financial Planners
Maybe you've seen another financial planner on TV, and thought, "Hey, I'm just as good as she. Why didn't the press pick me?"Well, chances are, as you now know, they picked her for at least two good reasons: She is a proficient - though not necessarily top-financial planner, and She did something, somewhere, to get on their radar screen.
7 Tips to Get More Mileage Out of Your Online or Offline Publicity
You worked hard to get a story on your business in a popularwebsite or your local paper. Don't let your efforts ends there --here are seven tips to help you maximize your online and offlinepublicity: 1) Reprint, Reprint, Reprint! A favorable article on your company or products is marketing gold- it implies that the publication or website has given itsendorsement.
Media Relations: Should You Pay For News Coverage?
Dear New York Times:I'd like to be quoted in one of your news stories. Enclosed is a check for $500.
How To Get Radio-Active PR For Your Non-Profit Cause-Part One
"We are in the communications business, the business of conveying messages to the human brain," said the late David Sarnoff, founder and president of RCA. "No man is wise enough to know which avenue to the brain is best.
Its the Little Details that Can Make or Break a News Story
Have you ever heard of the saying, "One person's trash is another person's treasure?" Well, that statement is a true one, but never more so than in the realm of media relations where so many small-business owners find it so difficult to garner media coverage for themselves or their companies. Allow me to illustrate my point below in an actual incident that happened to one of my clients and the lessons we learned from this experience.
Time Your News Release For Maximum Publicity
"Cindy, where's that story? I need it yesterday!""Coming right up, boss. I'll have it to you soon," Cindy shouted back.
Marketing-Minded Financial Planners--Appearing on TV? Tell the World!
It doesn't matter how cruel the reality programs get, there always seems to be an endless supply of people willing to humiliate themselves to get on television. There's just something exciting about appearing in front of millions of people.
Press Release Preparation
Small Business Owners should send press releases out at least once a month to local newspapers, cable TV, local magazines and radio stations. You will be surprised how often they get published or air time.
Driving Near School Buses in Company Vehicles
School BusesWhen approaching a school bus: Slow down; If the amber lights are flashing, the bus is about to stop; If the red lights are flashing, the bus is stopped; In many states it is against the law to pass a school bus with flashing red lights and/or an extended stop arm.Do not upset school bus drivers.
Internet Etiquette for Business Success
You're trying to recruit a downline into your program, you've tried every trick in the book, and no one is signing up. Is there a sign on your back that says you've got the plague? Maybe you're lacking in internet etiquette.
|home | site map|