Communication Between Cultures

(Sean Pound) #1
values competition and aggressive action and you are around someone from a cul-
ture that values cooperation and interpersonal harmony, you might find his or her
behavior ambiguous and confusing, yet coping with ambiguity is a key element in
intercultural competence. The ability to respond correctly to novel and ambiguous
situations with minimal anxiety will enable you to remain calm and will help in
familiarizing yourself with the new culture. If you are self-conscious, tense, and
anxious when confronted with the unknown, you are apt to use energy to alleviate
your frustration instead of trying to decide how best to communicate with the per-
son and adjust to the situation. Perhaps the best advice on how to develop a toler-
ance for ambiguity is to expect the unexpected, be nonjudgmental, and practice


  • Communication helps fulfill interpersonal needs, assists in gathering information
    about other people, establishes cultural and personal identities, and allows you to
    influence other people.

  • Communication is a dynamic process in which people attempt to share their inter-
    nal states with other people through the use of symbols.

  • The components of communication include source, encoding, message, channel,
    receiver,decoding, feedback, and noise.

  • Communication is dynamic, symbolic, contextual, self-reflective, irreversible, has a
    consequence, and is complex.

  • Misconceptions about human communication are that it can solve all problems,
    that people are born good communicators, and that the message sent is the one
    that is received.

  • Culture and communication are so intertwined that it is easy to think that culture
    is communication and that communication is culture.

  • Culture is a set of human-made objective and subjective elements that in the past
    have increased the probability of survival and resulted in satisfaction for the parti-
    cipants in an ecological niche and thus became shared among those who could
    communicate with each other because they had a common language and lived in
    the same time and place.

  • Culture informs its members regarding life; therefore, it reduces confusion and
    helps them predict what to expect from life.

  • The central characteristics of culture are that it is shared, transmitted from genera-
    tion to generation, based on symbols, learned, and dynamic.

  • The elements that compose culture are worldview, religion, history, values, social
    organization, and language.

  • Intercultural competence can be developed if you are motivated, have a fund of
    knowledge about the other person, and possess certain communication skills.

66 CHAPTER 2•Communication and Culture: The Voice and the Echo

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