Influence of Cultural Differences on Interpersonal Communication
Cultural differences have a robust impact on interpersonal communication. It can be affected by varying non-verbal signals and communication, slang and language style as well as different perception of power, career opportunities, responsibilities, and authority (Goodall and Schiefelbein 83; O’Toole 211). Even though cultural diversity is believed to benefit organizational performance due to creativity and collective experience, in fact, it leads to conflicts in the workplace, dissatisfaction with an atmosphere, and failing to communicate effectively (Guirdham 321).
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Cultural differences became the causes of conflicts described in case studies. Differing perception of authority, career opportunities, and workplace responsibilities are the foundation of ineffective interpersonal communication and failing to satisfy personal needs by means of communication. For example, John Smith believes that his white colleagues do not respect him because he is black. Even though he is a supervisor, his leader’s performance is low.
The problem might be explained by the historical and cultural conscience and racial inequality that was and still is a severe social problem. Similar stumbling block is demonstrated in case of Leo Marquez. However, this one is contrasting because a Hispanic manager does not know how to communicate with black colleagues claiming that he is a racist. The challenge in both examples is that supervisors do not recognize cultural differences between people and do not know how to turn it into a tool for enhancing understanding.
In the first case, the point is in white superiority while the second one is a common example of overreacting. Another closely related problem is that of Maria Torres believing that she is not promoted because of being a woman. The cause of the conflict is the perception of gender in workplace. Because women are commonly considered weaker than men, gender inequality might explain the existence of similar challenges.
Connection Between Cultural Values and Interpersonal Communication
Cultural context is one of major determinants of behavior including interpersonal communication. It derives from a social environment of a child during growing up and the process of socialization when an individual absorbs primary cultural values and frameworks of acceptable actions (Weiss 18). Moreover, cultural values affect self-image and self-perception influencing cultural identity (Jandt 297).
Keeping this in mind, it is possible to analyze case studies from the perspective of cultural context. Because it affects the perception of good supervision (Wood 202), John Smith might believe that he is undervalued not because his colleagues think so, but because in his culturally acceptable reality, no black people supervise white employees. The same can be said about Leo Marquez and his colleagues who might never have witnessed instances of friendly communication between people belonging to different social and cultural groups. As for Maria Torres, she might have come from a family or a social group where women do not know how to build professional relations because they are home-stay mothers. These differences in cultural context might have led to misunderstandings and seeing bias without the slightest hints at it.
Moreover, cultural context determines such values as equality, wisdom, and comfortable life. For me, they are closely connected to reaching success in personal and professional life, as they affect interpersonal communication. All of them played a significant role in the mentioned case study. Firstly, no one among those involved in conflicts realized that there are differences in understanding racial and gender equality. That is why it had a powerful impact on their professional lives because it became uncomfortable. Finally, the aspect of wisdom was totally ignored because a wise person would turn to estimating personal imperfections and developing communication skills instead of blaming colleagues for workplace misunderstandings.
Cultural Background and Enhancing Interpersonal Communication
I was born and grew up in a family where both mother and father focused on personal and professional development. In addition, all families in my social group shared this model of building relationships. It greatly affected my worldview and formation of cultural values. First of all, I was taught to believe in equality. Regardless of gender, skin color or religion, people should be treated equally and postulates of social justice should be preserved.
Moreover, recognizing the significance of communication is another cultural value engrained by my parents. They always told me that being open and unprejudiced is the key to eradicating misunderstanding and getting understood. Third, the concept of power and authority was viewed from the perspective of character traits and personal accomplishments, not person’s looks. Finally, I learned to respect the uniqueness of every individual and admire cultural differences.
These values are helpful for improving interpersonal communication skills and understanding people from other cultures. Because I was taught to be open and esteem differences, it was easy to realize that communication is a dynamic process and as I get in touch with new people, I should find out what works for them and what is special about their culture. Sometimes, it is still difficult to understand behaviors but, at least, this cultural context is useful for respecting needs and career aspirations of every individual and trying not to overstep bounds of propriety.
Goodall, Sandra, and Jill Schiefelbein. Business and Professional Communication in the Global Workplace. Boston, Massachusetts: Cengage Learning, 2010. Print.
Guirdham, Maureen. Communicating Across Cultures at Work, New York, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011. Print.
Jandt, Fred E. An Introduction to Intercultural Communication: Identities in a Global Community, Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications, 2013. Print.
O’Toole, Gjyn. Communication: Core Interpersonal Skills for Health Professionals, Chatswood, Australia: Elsevier, 2012. Print.
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Weiss, Ann. Perspectives on Individual Differences Affecting Therapeutic Change in Communication Disorders: New Direction in Communication Disorders Research, New York, New York: Psychology Press, 2010. Print.
Wood, Julia. Communication in Our Lives, Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications, 2015. Print.