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Religious Identity: Summary and Analysis
Religion is considered an important dimension of people’s identities as well as one of the reasons for intercultural conflict. Religious identity cannot be identified as a mere belonging to a particular religion because it is often interconnected with ethnic, region, class, and racial identities (Martin and Nakayama 181). For example, it is possible to see particular groups like the ones affiliating to racial, ethnic, or religious identities if viewing this issue at a historical angle. Therefore, defining differences between identities can be problematic because several ethnic groups can be conflated with a particular religion and, vice versa, one ethnic group can be split by various cultural and religious affiliations.
About these disparities, religion can become the main underpinning for conflicts. Religion tensions have become frequent nowadays, particularly when it comes to Arab Americans. Because the U. S. government is concerned with terrorist attacks in the Middle East, these groups are often subjected to suspicion. Religious conflicts also arise as a result of discrepancies of beliefs among individuals, specifically if a certain person imposes his/her position on those who do not share this position.
Just like we learn grammar and meaning for successful verbal communication, we also learn gestures and behaviors for implicit or nonverbal communication. It is recognized that nonverbal behaviors are carried out at a subconscious level because our gestures and mimics are fewer subjects to control. There are certain patterns of nonverbal behavior disclosing a particular communicative idea, but there are cases when it is impossible to display those patterns successfully.
For instance, hands shaking can be reinforced by verbal confirmation, like greeting. Alternatively, you can just remain silent which also indicates a particular kind of nonverbal behavior. Women can also learn specific nonverbal patterns that are socially accepted. One way or another, people should be aware of the basic strategies for more successful socialization.
Intercultural communication reveals that there are cross-cultural disparities in nonverbal codes of behavior. Nonverbal communication can vary from culture to culture in the post and physical gestures, eye contact, and facial expressions. The question is whether all those behavior codes can be universally accepted in terms of the meaning they have in various cultural settings. As has been observed previously, it is not reasonable to refer individuals to one dimension of identity. Likewise, an attempt to affiliate people to a particular cultural category would also be inaccurate.
In the research examining the universality of nonverbal behavior, a major focus has been made on certain aspects. The findings revealed that human nonverbal behavior and communication are much more complicated s compared with primates, although basic facial expression and behavioral patterns have much in common.
Verbal and Nonverbal Communication
It has been found that nonverbal communication patterns can be either encouraged or discouraged by verbal behavior. For instance, hands shaking accompanied by the phrase “no” or “yes” will reinforce verbal communication. However, when we are saying “over there” instead of pointing out, it can be stated that nonverbal behavior is replaced with verbal communication. Additionally, it should be stressed that there is a case when nonverbal behavior contradiction verbal expressions. This is because nonverbal patterns are controlled at a more subconscious level, which enables people to convey the true messages.
A comparative analysis of verbal and nonverbal communication has revealed certain similarities and differences. Hence, similarities are narrowed to a symbolic and communicative representation of meaning and contextually identified principles. Societies have peculiar nonverbal and verbal aspects of communication that are premised on cultural and ethnic issues. The differences in verbal and nonverbal patterns consist of levels of message delivery.
Particularly, nonverbal communication operates at a subconscious level whereas verbal communication is more explicitly revealed. Therefore, it is much harder to conceal nonverbal signals that can contradict a verbal representation of a message. To avoid misconceptions, it is more preferable to resort to verbal communication is much more effective in explaining a particular situation. Nonverbal patterns are quite difficult to identify compared to more explicit forms of articulating a particular idea because verbal means have a richer vocabulary.
An Example of a Nonverbal Behavior
Sometimes physical appearance, clothes, gestures, and facial expressions can disclose to what culture a person belongs to. Interestingly, though facial expressions are more relevant in identifying psychological characteristics, some dimensions can still be related to cross-cultural aspects. For example, Americans express their emotions and gestures more intensely comparing to Japanese people and other Asian nationalities irrespective of a person’s psychological characteristics. In this regard, emotions can serve as decoders of a particular culture, but not nationality. To enlarge on this, if a person from a particular culture is assimilated into an alien culture, it is possible that he/she can borrow peculiar facial expressions from the cultural setting he/she is located.
For instance, a person attached to Asian culture can assimilate their cultural habits to American culture, which can create discords in beliefs because different nationalities have their peculiar nonverbal means of expression. One way or another, cultural and national issues play a huge role in expressing emotions. What is more, facial expressions displayed in different cultural settings can influence emotional perception as well. This is why facial expressions and additional gestures should be carefully considered within various ethnic and cultural environments.
Importance of “Hot Button” Words and Expressions
The usage of various stereotypes and labels can cause several problems in cultural and political terms. Social setting matters as well, at this aspect establishes norms and levels of familiarity between a speaker and a listener. Usage of the so-called “hot button” words or labels should be limited in particular situations because it depends on the social structure and position of people. For example, if a listener and a speaker are close friends, such words as “lover”, “orientation”, and words of the kinds will not sound offensive. But if the conversation takes place between people of different social statuses and positions, the usage of politically incorrect words and labels can lead to a conflict situation.
When using labels specifying a person’s affiliation to a particular identity, we should be careful in choosing lexical means for presentation. This can specifically concern gender and racial identities. For instance, we rarely say “businessman”, preferring to use “businessperson” as a substitution to avoid misconceptions and conflicts.
Aside from the accuracy and appropriateness of using politically colored words, close attention should also be paid to changes that occurred to labels. In particular, there is a growing tendency of being more conscious about identity affiliations, as it is being practiced in the United States. Hence, more people should think more carefully about the importance of stereotypes and labels to avoid usage of out-of-date meanings.
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Martin, Judith N., and Nakayama, Thomas K. Intercultural Communication in Contexts US: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2009. Print.