The term culture refers to the collection of knowledge, shared beliefs, and human interaction (Jones). Typically, cultures are created through communication. This is because communication is the means of interaction by which cultural characteristics such as gender roles, laws, rituals and customs are created. The course facilitated a lot in understanding between culture and communication. After taking this course I was able to understand the importance of not only verbal but non-verbal communication, as well. I have learned how even the slightest gesture such as making eye-contact with elders, can be considered as a friendly gesture in American culture, but disrespectful in many other cultures.
Non-verbal communication includes body language, facial expression, and physical distance, etc (Jones). The non-verbal signals can facilitate in giving clues that provide additional information over verbal communication. For instance, the question, “What are you doing in the evening?” can be interpreted in many ways based upon tone, posture, and eye-contact. Therefore it is necessary to use appropriate non-verbal messages while communicating with people belonging to a different cultural background
To be an effective and competent intercultural communicator, one has to respect other cultures. Also, one has to pay more attention to non-verbal communication, and practice active listening and observing. While communicating with people belonging to a different culture it is recommended to avoid colloquialism along with idioms and jokes etc. Furthermore, it is necessary to accept and learn from mistakes and be more tolerant to those who make them.
To avoid discriminatory, and oppressive behaviors, it is necessary to accept the differences regarding culture, race, sexuality, and religion of people. This can be done by launching a media campaign and providing awareness regarding the negative impacts of discriminatory remarks on an individual’s mental and emotional health. Furthermore, as a citizen, one should understand and learn more about diversity and respect the beliefs and cultural differences of other people.
To communicate with people with different cultural backgrounds, it is necessary to initiate communication with simple sentences and avoid using jargon. Secondly, it is necessary to first show respect and then proceed to talking with people rather than asking only random, yes or no questions. Non-verbal communication also plays a vital role while communicating with people of different cultural backgrounds, so it is important to have some knowledge regarding the culture and further initiate communication.
After taking the course I realize that cultural identity is the feeling of belonging to a group and is a part of self-conception and self- perception. I learned about different ethnicities and their cultures during a course. Although, there are occasions where individuals within a given culture may disagree with the views that are promoted by cultural leaders. However, this course helped me in building my cultural identity as I learned about the communication methods, rituals, and beliefs of different groups with whom I can identify myself, as well.
Before taking the course, I was not familiar with Chinese culture. I always thought that Chinese people’s parenting styles are strict and they intervene in every matter of their children. However, after taking the course, I realized, that in Chinese culture, family means a lot and therefore they rely more upon their families for advice while making important decisions. Also, in the context of non-verbal communication, I realized that bowing down in front of elders and not making eye-contact is a method of paying respect.
At the workplace, it is necessary to first respect the cultural differences and be tolerant and empathetic towards people of different cultural backgrounds. The next thing is to institutionalize cultural knowledge and avoid using jargon. Additionally, active listening and learning are very important. Also, one should not intimidate others while communicating with people of different cultural backgrounds, but rather try observing their speaking style and respectfully communicate with them. Moreover, it is necessary to accept mistakes to build a friendly relationship.
Owing to the tremendous increase in the use of technology has especially, become an indispensable part of our lives. The media also influences our cultural identity. Although, being consciously aware of what is being displayed by the media, it still plays a substantial role in influencing cultural identity. Media has the power to portray any culture or group positively and negatively which can, therefore, influence one’s cultural identity.
Intercultural competence can be described as the ability to develop targeted knowledge, and skills that facilitate both effective and appropriate intercultural interactions (Jones). Intercultural competence constitutes cultural self-awareness and culturally specific knowledge. If an individual learns to be flexible, empathetic, and adaptable, then he or she would be considered as being culturally competent.
Jones, Anna, and Xuan Quach. "Intercultural communication." The University of Melbourn (2007).
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