Communication Strategies: Reduce Your Ethnocentrism

Ethnocentrism is the tendency to evaluate the values, beliefs, and behaviors of your own culture as being more positive, logical, and natural than those of other cultures. Although normally thought of negatively, ethnocentrism has its positive aspects. For example, if a group is under attack, ethnocentrism will help create cohesiveness. It has also been argued that it forms the basis of patriotism and a willingness to sacrifice for the benefit of the group.
But ethnocentrism also can create obstacles to communication with those who are culturally different from you. It can also lead to hostility toward outside groups and may blind you to seeing other perspectives, other values, other ways of doing things.
Ethnocentrism exists on a continuum. People aren’t either ethnocentric or not ethnocentric; rather, most of us are somewhere between these polar opposites. Of course, your degree of ethnocentrism varies, depending on the group on which you focus. For example, if you’re Greek American, you may have a low degree of ethnocentrism when dealing with Italian Americans but a high degree when dealing with Turkish Americans or Japanese Americans. Most important to recognize is that your degree of ethnocentrism (and we are all ethnocentric to at least some degree) will influence your communication interactions.
There is no easy way or quick formula to reduce your ethnocentrism. Yet, a few suggestions may be in order:
• Learn about the other culture. The more you know about other cultures, the more likely you are to see value in other ways of doing things and in other beliefs. And, at the same time, the less likely you’ll be to think only of your own culture.
• Become mindful of your thinking whenever it concerns intercultural issues. Ask yourself if you’re being ethnocentric.
• Interact with members of other cultures while withholding evaluations.
• Talk with members of other cultures about their culture—simply as a way of understanding each other.


Christian Fey said...

Fantastic Joseph! I love the topic choice! Is your book more of a textbook style or a normal book style? I'm curious. Also I wrote a post somewhat similar too this here:


I discuss how engineers tend to act in very similar ways to Frenchmen because of others and their lack of interest in meeting them on their terms.

Let me know what you think!

Unknown said...

I enjoyed this post and it reminds me to make more of an effort here in Queens to ask people about their memories from childhood in their home countries (Russia, Korean, China, Israeil, France and Ireland)
predominatnly and the things they miss and remember that were valuable to them growing up.

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Carrie Casey, Drury University Student, Comm 285 said...

I really enjoyed this post. It is true that we need to be aware of each other and how we treat each other. It is very easy to view other culture from our own views. But as we grow in our ability to communicate digitally we have learn to understand how other culture feel before we post a inappropriate comment online. I know that our president one to violate the standard code of ethical conduct in how we speaks about other countries. His comments can lead to other countries turning their backs on us.

Carrie Casey, Drury University Student, Comm 285 said...

I would like to add a comment to the post I made earlier. In my Communication and Ethics course we are learned about Intercultural and Multicultural communications and from that we must "value diversity over assimilation" (Johannesen, 2008, p. 235). That even though there is Ethnocentrism in this world we need to "listen to and value the nondominant culture. Neither the dominant culture nor the nondominant culture is always right or all wrong" ( Johannesen, 2008, p. 235). Thank you.
Carrie Casey
Drury University Student
Comm 285
Catherine Huss, Professor

Johannesen, R. L., Valde, K. S., & Whedbee, K. E. (2008). Ethics In Human Communication. Long Grove: Waveland Press, Inc. .