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Intercultural communication is the process of study and research that seeks to understand how people all the world think about their neighbors.
Emanating from the knowledge gained realistic efforts in application of such results helps the different parts of the world to interact and engage in constructive activities. This field must concern itself with understanding the daily operations of a people.
Also, the field must understand how people view their lives as well as what are the considered norms and behaviors in an everyday spectrum. The modern trends in globalization and advanced technology have led to increased number of interactions from the business, cultural, and political, economic as well as social platforms.
It thus becomes a pertinent issue to understand and put behind cultural prejudices in order to achieve one united global efforts. This paper in recognition of this process seeks to define culture in an effort to answer outlined questions as a descriptive approach.
For effective communication between cultures, a number of strategies must be fulfilled in order to enhance efficiency. The fact that persons are unaware of other cultures at glance presents problems in attempts to communicate between such persons.
It is thus important when two opposite cultures learn and get equipped with the knowledge of the others. The difficulty in intercultural communication can be frustrating hence advance knowledge helps to shape an otherwise potentially repercussion during interaction of nay two given cultures.
The need for active listening is another major process that needs to be included in the strategies for intercultural communication. It is important to note that a culture’s language has mannerisms, attitudes and nuances that described by certain expressions, as well as body posture.
This requires the involved personalities to immerse themselves in any interaction process to avoid heated situations or debates. These situations and debates are usually guided by lack of such prior knowledge.
This can be enhanced by go between personalities who understand and point to the concepts alluded in any interaction. The calm and careful approach in any cultural exchange has been advocated since it leads to better assessment of the opposite culture at display.
It has been noted that the lack of such understanding has resulted to outbursts that have led to nasty and painful experiences. This causes untold damage to property and loss of lives.
The Definitional Perspectives of Culture
In his book, Gudykunst (2003) observes that individuals never grow up in a society on their own. A child is from the early stages connected and raised through the family’s ideals and perceptions. These ideals are those that the parents view as necessary after years of living and practicing them.
A child thus acquires what the environment the parents give of him or her. In tandem to this observation, a family is part of a society that believes and sees things in a certain manner as compared to neighboring families that make a different society. Thus, the identification of situations and ideals in one family that is different from another is possible.
On the other end, human beings are social in nature and thus to a certain extent what is attributable to the family becomes irrelevant to a wider society. Therefore, this means that different societies will have characteristics that are drawn from almost similar backgrounds fused to form one body of cultural identification.
This forms the norms and the ways of a people which clearly outlines the language and the concerns of a culture. Accordingly, cross cultural communication must put these ideals in mind and coordinate activities to derive shared meaning and understanding.
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In the concept of education observations, traditional education was meant to further the perspectives of the society. This education is one that derived from the cultural point of view of the society and hence the early childhood education strove to inculcate this sense in the young minds.
Therefore, it is very practical to find that education levels and practices in different nations are guided by national agendas. These agendas are meant to promote the country’s identity. At the same time, the continuous processes of shaping the child’s perspective emphasize on creation of self identity.
This must be gained as a resultant synthesis of the mixed perspectives. This identity is in line with the societal point of view and thus a creation of mainstream body of cultural concerns identifiable through particular individual traits (Pinto, 2000).
In this sense, diversity created uniformity through the socialization process in the society. So when a communication conversation occurs between such persons of the same cultural identity, the transitions are smooth from language, imagery, body posture to idioms.
The intercultural communication is thus characterized by a social world construct where the expressions and negotiations of terms are based on daily common life parameters.
In the event that two people from the same cultural identity engage in a communication process, it produces an effect that creates synergies and promotes an understanding between the two. This leads to the creation of rapport.
However, the problem arises when two persons from different cultural identities meet a situation that involves communication obvious constrains must arise. This is due to economic political, historic and socialization differences between the two.
Human nature through the process of power relations describes the issues of superior and inferior persons in the society. Power relation battles have pitted one culture against the other leading the rulers and the ruled in history.
As a result, societies all over the world have fought for supremacy while others have strove to gain the prestigious position as viewed of the dominant culture. This concept can be explained by societies that have sent their children to study under the tutelage of such superior cultures.
This is done in order for the children to benefit and acquire power in the process. Thus, a community in the process of creation of a cultural identity will do anything to breakdown barriers that can contribute to bring it down in favor of other cultures (Lee & Tseng, 2008).
Therefore, analyzing from this concept, a culture creates a self identity that has a certain view of the other. The other culture identity is often seen as one that does not conform to the perceived highest and best culture.
In the modern age of technology and information, competition between cultures is observable. This is especially when different parts of the world showcase what is best in their own sense.
Later on, a determination of what is the best leads to massive world wide influence. This is observable in fashion, education and affects politics, economics and development.
According to Simmel, the stranger concept in intercultural communication makes communication easy between two cultures due to its importance. In his view, Simmel observed that a “stranger” is one who stays with a group enough to learn and understand the groups in its ways, practices, language and mannerisms.
Although he is still viewed as one who belongs to the group, he has certain roles that he plays. This is because he links between his local cultures and the new culture he has learnt of. He is an “outsider”, but one who has been accepted in the new culture.
Therefore, the host culture views him as “near” in terms of space and “distant” in terms of interaction and characterization. So the stranger feels “indifference” and involvement emotional variations towards the hosts as well as the observed differences in social and cultural attributes (Skinner & Shack, 1979).
However, the stranger becomes the most important person since he acts a link between two cultures after a careful and persistent observation. He can analyze the strengths, weaknesses and social perspectives hence can guide others who new to the culture in how to deal with it. Traditionally, the stranger took the position of a judge, trader, and even a mediator between two cultures with different sets of views.
Thus, Simmel’s concept of the stranger powerfully teaches between the concept of self and other. In this case, for effective intercultural communication to occur, a succinct understanding of a new culture is important for any meaningful activity to occur.
This means that, in modernity, there must be deliberate efforts to study culture of interests from the historical, social, economic, and political point of view. There is no way intercultural communication can be effective if the knowledge between the two is lacking.
This typically implies that if two people from different cultures meet without any explicit knowledge of one another’s’ origin, then the first process must be to learn their language, attitudes, ideologies, views, and practices. In this process both are learning important details in relation to the stranger concept in Simmel’s view and thus it helps to understand basic ideas for effective interactions.
In this sense, it is like taking a tour of the historical perspective hence it contributes to effective communication methods in an individual (Lee & Tseng, 2008).
Economic, social, political Point of view
Accordingly, the Simmel concept of a stranger also gives insight into the economic status of another. This is in obvious relation to self since history is shaped through economic and progressive activities. Individuals who have been at the subjects’ end of power relations are likely to belong to an economic status below expected standards.
In tandem, it is worthy to note that economic power leads to political power and forms the higher class in the society in terms of socialization. There are cultures at the receiving end of others and hence view about them is always seen in terms of negative connotations.
Thus, for effective intercultural communication to happen, such prejudices must not be brought forward in the discussions. This is because they may lead to misunderstandings and eventual conflict.
It is thus important to understand that intercultural communication process can only be successful when such issues are expressly known by each culture in order to achieve success in sharing, development and also business activities like advertising, marketing and product promotion (Bergmann, 2008).
This paper describes that cultures are different from each other from the early socializations processes of children. A culture is thus described with what it values, the language used to express such values, as well as the expected norms and activities.
The historical perspectives explain the cultural economic, political as well as social dimensions of a people which must be understood before any cross cultural communication process can take place.
It thus means that a culture placed in the context of others requires a conscious effort to be understood in order to fit with the others. Once this process is achieved, positive happenings enhance an effective communication process that may facilitate the development.
Bergmann, W. (2008). Anti-Semitic Attitudes in Europe: A comparative Perspective. Journal of Social Issues, 64(2): 343-362.
Gudykunst, B.W. (2003). Cross-cultural and intercultural Communication. New York: SAGE.
Lee, I. & Tseng, C. (2008). Cultural conflicts of child-centered approach to early childhood education in Taiwan. Early Years. 28(2): 183 -196.
Pinto, D. (2000). Intercultural communication: a three-step method for dealing with differences. Leuven: Garant.
Skinner, P.E. & Shack, W.A. (1979). Strangers in African Societies. California: University of California Press.