Culture is a way of living and thinking in which an individual picks up a set of values, beliefs, attitudes, and norms that are taught and reinforced by other group members. The basic solutions and assumptions to the world's problems is a shared system that is passed from one generation to another to maintain its survival. Culture encompasses of written and unwritten laws and principles that guide and direct how a person interacts with society. members' culture can be identified and recognized based on their common ethnicity, race, geography, or religion. An individual's cultural comprehension of the world and all that it comprises influences their style of communication as they start picking up methods of their cultures almost immediately they start learning to communicate. Culture impacts a person's behaviors and the way they speak. Therefore, this paper will explore the role of culture in cross-cultural communication.
Cross-cultural communication is communication between individuals with different cultures (Pym 1). Cultural differences include any of the following gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, nationality, age, and working styles. Furthermore, cross-cultural communications can be referred to as the efforts to mediate, negotiate, and exchange cultural variations by way of gestures, language, and body language (Pym 2). Thus, it refers to the way people of different cultures interact with one another. Every person practices culture at differing levels. They are influenced by the culture of their community, work culture and their place of work, and other cultures which they subscribe to. Therefore, people are confronted with the clash between their culture and society culture that the experience daily. A culture clash happens when an individual believes that their culture is superior to others. Nonetheless, cross-cultural communication facilitates cooperation and creates a feeling of trust.
According to Levin et al., cultural competence is communicating in context, which takes a common method to intercultural communication skills (319). The authors posit that good communication skills depend on becoming familiar with the cultural context to which the language naturally belongs. Therefore, in cross-cultural communication people should understand the context of other cultures (Pym 4). Levine et al. refer to this understanding of one's and other's cultures employing objective, unprejudiced comparisons as cross-cultural awareness (319). It is the capacity to accept other people's cultures on their terms and get rid of ethnocentric tendencies. Lack of this cultural awareness brings cultural misunderstandings and impacts negatively on cross-cultural communication (Pym 6). Hence, understanding and accepting other people's cultures plays a significant role in the success of cross-cultural communication.
The main problem of cross-cultural communication is cultural misunderstandings. In a cross-cultural interaction, the small aspects of conversation seem obvious such as who begins to speak, who talks next, and who closes the conversation are not (Azar 166). For instance, Krasner posits that in an interaction between Atabaskans Indians and Anglos communication issues start at the beginning (80). According to Atabaskans culture, it is imperative to sense the social relationship before they speak to other people, thus the Anglos speak first (Krasner 81). It is worth noting that the person who talks first introduces the topic. As a result, Anglos control the topic of any conversation. Another issue arises when another person wants to speak, Athabaskans permits longer pauses than the Anglos (Krasner 81). Consequently, the Athabaskan will wait longer patiently for the speaker to continue while in the Anglo mind they have already finished speaking. Therefore, the Anglos close the interactions by appreciating the Athabaskans (Krasner 81). Thus, this example shows that despite the difference in the language being used by the speakers the cause of miscommunication is social-cultural misunderstandings (Mazari 16).
In this light, the cultural awareness of other cultures plays an important role in cross-cultural communication. Therefore, cross-cultural communication demands that speakers of different cultures must meet the cultural expectations of each other. In cross-cultural communication, an individual cannot utilize their cultural frames such as behavior patterns, which they started developing from childhood. Moreover, the choice of a topic and turn-taking are the main aspects that signal power distribution in a group. As seen from the Athabaskans and Anglos example, the Anglos always control the topic and communication due to their socio-linguistic rules of interaction differences in the two cultures (Krasner 81). Communication breakdown is s a result of socio-linguistic variations. In essence, successful communication is not determined by linguistic competence (Levina, 4). Rather, culture is integrated into any communicative activity.
Culture and communication cannot be separated. Language is a medium of communication. For cross-cultural communication to occur there must be a successful use of language. Nonetheless, a specific language represents the roots of cultural and social groups from where it is practiced or originated (Mazari 16). Growing up in a particular society people learn various kinds of accent, gestures, and glances which are specific to that culture. These conceptions can be disrespectful signs in other cultures and communities. Further, there are no two similar languages that represent the same social reality. For instance, students learning English as a second language are required to study the corresponding culture. Therefore, language is an outcome of the thoughts and feelings of a society (Mazari 16). As such, learning a language is more than just grammar rather it is learning social behavior and cultural custom of native English speakers. Thus, since language cannot be separated from culture and is the medium of communication, it means that culture and communication cannot be separated. As such, communication transmits culture, thus if you do not understand the language of community you might as well not understand their culture. Therefore, to have successfully communicated with people with different cultures in terms of religion, workplace, geography, ethnicity or others, an individual needs to exhibit comprehension of their own culture and that of the others.
Being proficient in another culture may be sufficient for survival. For instance, immigrants are faced with a major culture shock in a job interview in their countries of residence. The job interviews are highly structured socio-linguistic event and entail many conventions that are specific to the workplace and the local society cultures. Therefore, in an interview not only the language that matters but also the cultural skills, this is especially true to people who are seeking jobs outside their geographical area, ethnicity, and religion. In some countries, people do not shake hands while in others it is seen as a rude gesture to not extend a hand and shake it firmly. As such, conventions such as maintaining eye contact, shaking hands firmly, and being positive contributors to the success of cross-cultural communication. Therefore, an individual needs to understand the culture of the other group to have a successful conversation.
People from different cultures experience problems of communicating effectively including errors in comprehending the message communication and behaviors situations cannot be avoided (Khotimah 10). Errors in communication can lead to an atmosphere that gives rise to social conflicts and disputes (Umran, 68). As such, a person's culture determines how they communicate meaning in the manner in which an individual communicates with others similar culture and with different cultures their cultural character has developed since they started learning to communicate are difficult to remove. Because culture is a way of life growing up and is owned jointly by a group of people and passed down from one generation to the other.
A person's culture is obtained from infancy up to the grave which greatly influences their way of thinking and behaviors while communicating and interacting with people of different cultural backgrounds (Umran, 69). People often experience cultural clash daily due to the tendency to evaluate other people's behaviors in terms of their own culture which is subjective. To avoid cross-cultural communication misunderstandings that pose a dispute of cross-cultural views then people should identify and recognize cultural uniqueness and differences of themselves and others by understanding several cultural characteristics including culture and communication, norms and values, learning and mental processes, beliefs and attitudes (Khotimah 13).
When people encounter another person with a different culture, they tend to notice the differences and similarities. Whilst they are both vital, the differences are often highlighted and contribute to communication breakdown. Based on the perceived differences people place others into in-groups and out-groups. Hence, this is essential since people tend to react to others based on the characteristics that they attach to the group instead of the individual. In such an encounter, prejudice and stereotypes impact their communication (Brenda, 14). As such, there is a need to learn about cultural differences and why it is important in communication.
To avoid communication misunderstanding with people whose cultures differ from theirs, an individual must be an effective communicator since in any context the relationship must be undertaken via language (Mulyana 7). Moreover, to be an effective communicator a person must comprehend the communication process and the fundamental principles of communicating effectively. In order to effectively communicate with people of a different culture, first, a person must stop stereotypes about the behavior and perceptions of others. Stereotyping the behaviors of others hinder people from communicating effectively. Further, good cross-cultural communicators should empathize with others and using proper greetings that are in line with their own culture. People are supposed to be attracted to others not as members of a particular race, ethnicity, geographical, or religious categories but as unique individuals. Lastly, people should strive to master at least both verbal and nonverbal cues and the value system of others (Mulyana 11).
According to Umran culture and communication are two inseparable concepts (69). Society's cultures and subcultures influence an individual's communication behaviors. Umran posits that culture and communication have a reciprocal relationship (Giri 1). Hence, culture is part of communication behavior, while it also helps in determining communication, develops, maintain, and pass culture. On the one hand, how people talk and communicate with others is influenced by culture. On the other hand how people talk, what they speak about to define, revive, and shape their culture. Edward T. Hall argues that culture is communication and communication is culture (Mulyana 11). As such, culture is alive due to communication and communication is alive with culture (Samovar et al. 1).
The U.S. population is increasing and diversifying, and people of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender are coming out, while the number of people with disabilities is rising. The American landscape has changed with the Latino and Hispanic populations increasing to become the second-largest group in the country according to the 2010 census. Brenda posits that by 2030 ethnic and racial minorities will account for 33% of the American population (16). In addition, more social and legal c...
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