1.25.2011

Communication Strategies: Educate Yourself for Intercultural Communication

There’s no better preparation for intercultural communication than learning about the other culture and about how you think and feel about communicating with members of cultures very different from your own.
Fortunately, there are numerous sources to draw on in learning about another culture. View a documentary or movie that presents a realistic view of the culture. Read material about the culture by persons from that culture as well as by “outsiders”. Scan magazines and websites from the culture. Talk with members of the culture. Chat in international chat rooms. Read materials addressed to people who need to communicate with those from other cultures. Your online or brink-and-mortar bookstores abound with such books.
Become mindful of your own feelings, particularly your possible fears of engaging in intercultural communication. For example, you may become anxious about your ability to control the intercultural situation, or you may worry about your own level of discomfort. You may fear saying something that will be considered politically incorrect or culturally insensitive and thereby lose face.
A somewhat different type of fear is the fear that you’ll be taken advantage of by a member of another culture. Depending on your own stereotypes, you may fear being lied to, financially duped, or made fun of. You may fear that members of this other group will react to you negatively. You may fear, for example, that they will not like you or may disapprove of your attitudes or beliefs or perhaps even reject you as a person. Conversely, you may fear negative reactions from members of your own group. They might, for example, disapprove of your socializing with the culturally different.
Some fears, of course, are reasonable. In many cases, however, such concerns are groundless. Either way, they need to be assessed logically and their consequences weighed carefully. And, together with your greater understanding and knowledge of the culture, you’ll then be able to make more informed choices about your interactions with members of different cultures.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As much as a person can prepare him or herself for intercultural communication, I don't think a person can ever be… fully prepared.

I think, that there is something that people often miss when trying to prepare themselves for intercultural communication. I do believe that people will learn the language (or make an attempt), read magazines, watch movies, try and talk to members of the culture, etc. But that one thing that they may miss…..is communicating inter-culturally non verbally.

I remember when I was 15 years old. My parents took my sister and I to Europe for a few weeks. We were all sitting in a restaurant in Paris, France. We had finished our dinner and weren't going to have any desert. Like always, my Dad tried to get the attention of the server; he stretched his arm up and put his pointer finger in the air to get the check. The server acknowledged my Dad and we thought we were going to be out of there in a few minutes-- the server came back 10 minutes later with an espresso.