The problems that Pat did not anticipate to encounter when he took up the new assignment were being unaware that the new community did not speak pure French and different expressions meant different things for different audiences. Pat was not aware of intercultural communication elements of content meaning, identity meaning, relational meaning, interactive situations, and negotiated shared meanings in the new environment (Lewis 23).
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A typical example is when one of the employees said something that Pat interpreted to be uncomplimentary. Pat did not take his time to listen and use his skills as a leader to understand the meaning of what was communicated. Instead, he registered disgust on his face (Lewis 23). By registering disgust on his face, that showed how unprepared he was to work in an environment with people from different cultural backgrounds when communicating through gestures, word of mouth, or spoken words.
Different communication styles mean different things to different people (Chevrier 29). Effective communication is important for people to understand one another and a good leader must listen carefully, hear, reflect on what has been communicated, and respond positively. Pat never understood that communication differs from culture to culture.
The company could have prepared Pat to provide leadership and to overcome his difficulties in the new engagement by teaching him on effective intercultural communication using effective listening skills, responsible feedback, taking time to think before giving feedback, use of positive non-verbal actions to create a positive response in others, and how to determine what to say and when to say it (Chevrier 29).
Pat should be taught to understand the symbolic exchanges of communicating, the interdependent relationship established when communicating, how to adapt to the behavior of those he is leading, how to avoid taking things personally and becoming angry when communicating to an audience. He instead should remain calm when talking and rephrase his statements to ensure clarity of ideas, be friendly and cordial to his audience.
Having acquired effective communication skills, it could be wise to educate Pat on how to apply those skills when leading people with different cultures. The key elements to understand are the cultural communication function, which provides ideas on how to interact with others, how cultural norms affect the communication process, how to manage differences between different cultural orientations, and how to be mindful of others’ behavior in the communication process. Pat shows a sense of mindlessness because he is consumed by his habits, emotions, ethnocentric cognitions, and poor interpretation of intercultural communication.
Yes, the situation Pat experienced was typical of an American going to a foreign assignment. The challenges that American encounter include social distance where different words mean different things to different individuals. In addition, Americans encounter language, communication, and expressions problems. In addition, work style approaches, network and relational needs, unique personal identities of the people in the new station, relevant social skills in the new environment, and different rules of behavior are some of the cultural shocks Americans encounter in the new stations (Chevrier 29).
The problems are compounded by differences in the primary identities between the Americans and the new environment, which include personal, ethnical, gender, cultural, relational, facial work identities, and symbolic interactions as they differ from culture to culture, making it difficult for Americans to effectively communicate in new cultural environments.
Chevrier, Sylvie. “Cross-cultural management in multinational project groups.” Journal of World Business 38.2 (2003): 141-149.Print.
Lewis, Richard D. When cultures collide: Managing successfully across cultures. Nicholas Brealey Publishing: Boston, 2000.Print.