Dydara's Blog

May 10, 2010

Cross-cultural communication

Filed under: Interesting and Useful Topics — dydara @ 8:37 pm

I used to be Youth Ambassador and I met a lot of incredible and talented Cambodian youths people. I have learned a lot from them. I am so proud of them!!! 🙂

I have joined some cultural exchange program . it really made me realized that
cross-cultural communication is an important for us that we live in society with multinational workplace. This cultural exchange program can broaden international outlook and better cultural understanding, promote mutual friendship and build global communication and enhance understanding on the world through cultural experiences and to promote mutual cooperation and friendship for the peace and prosperity of the World.
Culture is an integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for symbolic thought and social learning. The set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution, organization or group.
Cross-cultural communication (also frequently
referred to as intercultural communication,
which is also used in a different sense, though)
is a field of study that looks at how people
from differing cultural backgrounds communicate,
in similar and different ways among themselves,
and how they endeavour to communicate across
Cross cultural understanding simply refers to
the basic ability of people within business to
recognise, interpret and correctly react to
people, incidences or situations that are open
to misunderstanding due to cultural differences.
The fundamental intention of cross cultural
training is to equip the learner(s) with the
appropriate skills to attain cross cultural
‘Cross Cultural Knowledge’ is critical to basic
cross cultural understanding. Without it cross
cultural appreciation cannot take place. It
refers to a surface level familiarization with
cultural characteristics, values, beliefs and
Cross Cultural Awareness’ develops from cross
cultural knowledge as the learner understands
and appreciates a culture internally. This may
also be accompanied by changes within the
learner’s behaviour and attitudes such as a
greater flexibility and openness.
Cross Cultural Sensitivity’ is a natural by-
product of awareness and refers to an ability to
read into situations, contexts and behaviours
that are culturally rooted and be able to react
to them appropriately. An suitable response
necessitates that the actor no longer carries
his/her own culturally determined
interpretations of the situation or behaviour
(i.e. good/bad, right/wrong) which can only be
nurtured through both cross cultural knowledge
and awareness.
‘Cross Cultural Competence’ is and should be the
aim of all those dealing with multicultural
clients, customers or colleagues. ‘Competence’
is the final stage of cross cultural
understanding and signifies the actor’s ability
to work effectively across cultures. Cross
cultural competency is beyond knowledge,
awareness and sensitivity in that it is the
digestion, integration and transformation of all
the skills and information acquired through
them, applied to create cultural synergy within
the workplace.
Cultural competence refers to an ability to
interact effectively with people of different
cultures. Cultural competence comprises four
components: (a) Awareness of one’s own cultural
worldview, (b) Attitude towards cultural
differences, (c) Knowledge of different cultural
practices and worldviews, and (d) cross-cultural
skills. Developing cultural competence results
in an ability to understand, communicate with,
and effectively interact with people across
Can you even measure something like cultural
competence? In an attempt to offer solutions for
developing cultural competence, Diversity
Training University International (DTUI)
isolated four cognitive components: (a)
Awareness, (b) Attitude, (c) Knowledge, and (d)
Awareness: Awareness is consciousness of one’s
personal reactions to people who are different.
A police officer who recognizes that he profiles
people who look like they are from Mexico as
“illegal aliens” has cultural awareness of his
reactions to this group of people.
Attitude: Paul Pedersen’s multicultural
competence model emphasized three components:
awareness, knowledge and skills. DTUI added the
attitude component in order to emphasize the
difference between training that increases
awareness of cultural bias and beliefs in
general and training that has participants
carefully examine their own beliefs and values
about cultural differences.
Knowledge: Social science research indicates
that our values and beliefs about equality may
be inconsistent with our behaviors, and we
ironically may be unaware of it. Social
psychologist Patricia Devine and her colleagues,
for example, showed in their research that many
people who score low on a prejudice test tend to
do things in cross cultural encounters that
exemplify prejudice (e.g., using out-dated
labels such as “illegal aliens”, “colored”, and
“homosexual”.). This makes the Knowledge
component an important part of cultural
competence development.
Regardless of whether our attitude towards
cultural differences matches our behaviors, we
can all benefit by improving our cross-cultural
effectiveness. One common goal of diversity
professionals is to create inclusive systems
that allow members to work at maximum
productivity levels.
Skills: The Skills component focuses on
practicing cultural competence to perfection.
Communication is the fundamental tool by which
people interact in organizations. This includes
gestures and other non-verbal communication that
tend to vary from culture to culture.
Cultural competence is becoming increasingly
necessary for work, home, community social lives
Cross cultural communication gives opportunities
to share ideas, experiences, and different
perspectives and perception by interacting with
local people.
It’s no secret that today’s workplace is rapidly
becoming vast, as the business environment
expands to include various geographic locations
and span numerous cultures. What can be
difficult, however, is understanding how to
communicate effectively with individuals who
speak another language or who rely on different
means to reach a common goal.
The Internet and modern technology have opened
up new marketplaces, and allow us to promote our
businesses to new geographic locations and
cultures. And given that it can now be as easy
to work with people remotely as it is to work
face-to-face, cross-cultural communication is
increasingly the new norm.
After all, if communication is electronic, it’s
as easy to work with someone in another country
as it is to work with someone in the next town.
What is Cultural Resilience?
Many human cultures have come and gone, others
have survived; the longer surviving cultures can
be said to be resilient.  Cultural resilience
refers to a culture’s capacity to maintain and
develop cultural identity and critical cultural
knowledge and practices.  Despite challenges and
difficulties, a resilient culture is capable of
maintaining and developing itself.  A resilient
culture engages with other  challenges such as
natural disasters and encounters with other
cultures, and manages to continue.  For example:
The Jewish culture proved to be resilient to the
challenges of World War II.
The Palestinian culture has been resilient to
the challenges of Israel.

The key to effective cross-cultural communication is knowledge. First, it is essential that people understand the potential problems of cross-cultural communication, and make a conscious effort to overcome these problems. Second, it is important to assume that one’s efforts will not always be successful, and adjust one’s behavior appropriately.

For example, one should always assume that there is a significant possibility that cultural differences are causing communication problems, and be willing to be patient and forgiving, rather than hostile and aggressive, if problems develop. One should respond slowly and carefully in cross-cultural exchanges, not jumping to the conclusion that you know what is being thought and said.

William Ury’s suggestion for heated conflicts is to stop, listen, and think, or as he puts it “go to the balcony” when the situation gets tense. By this he means withdraw from the situation, step back, and reflect on what is going on before you act. This helps in cross cultural communication as well. When things seem to be going badly, stop or slow down and think. What could be going on here? Is it possible I misinterpreted what they said, or they misinterpreted me? Often misinterpretation is the source of the problem.

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