The Importance Of Intercultural Communication Cultural Studies Essay
Communication is a basic task for every one of us to communicate in our daily life. Business Dictionary defined communication as a progression of reaching common understanding which we are exchanging information, expresses meaning and shared understanding. Miscommunication is likely occurs especially when there are some cultural differences between communicators (LeBaron, 2003). Intercultural communication and cross cultural communication are the examples of culture differences in communications. Intercultural communication and cross cultural communications can be differentiate by the definition of intercultural communication and cross cultural communication, the theories of intercultural communication and cross cultural communication, the advantage and disadvantage of intercultural communication and cross cultural communication, how intercultural communication and cross cultural communication will them help in developing effective communication skills, and which is more useful.
Firstly, the intercultural communication and cross-cultural communication can be differentiated by its definition. According to Knapp (nd) intercultural communication can be defined as when members from different groups with different personal knowledge shared by their members and in respect of their linguistic form of symbolic behaviour are socializing between each other. Whereas for cross cultural communication, Muri (2008) defined cross cultural communication as the differences of one’s cultural is undergoing the process of exchanging, negotiating and meditating through their language, non-verbal gestures and space relationships. In intercultural communication, the communicators should be aware the sharing the meaning of its cultures across other culture. Whereas in the cross cultural communication, it emphasize on recognize its own culture and then exchange, negotiate and mediate with another culture. It is clearly states that the intercultural communications emphasize on the sharing but for cross cultural communications, it emphasize on comparison. Hence, from its definition itself we can already see the differentiation between intercultural communication and cross cultural communication.
Secondly, the theories of intercultural communication and cross cultural communication can help to differentiate intercultural communication and cross cultural communication as well. We can use the “third space” concept to evaluate the intercultural communication while for the cross cultural communication; we can use the Hofstede theories to evaluate it. The "third space" is a notion used to illustrate the chances for a negotiated re-imagining of a cultural identity.(Bretag et al, 2009 pp246). In other words, it creates opportunities which promote something different, new and previously unidentified (Hannula, nd). In the cross cultural communication, there are five main dimensions to examine the theories which are individualism or collectivism, uncertainty avoidance, power distance, masculinity or femininity, and short-term or long-term orientation. Individualism is people who find and protect their own interests over common goal of the society and their role in the society (Himachali, nd). In other words, individualist culture only tends to focuses on individual merit or achievement. The countries that show individualism are Australia, Canada, France and etc. A collective culture will focuses more on teamwork and group achievement. The countries that show collectivism are China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and etc. Uncertainty avoidance refers to the extent to which peoples in the culture feel comfortable when they are exposed to an unclear or uncertain situation (Himachali, nd). People who are in the high uncertainty avoidance are risk averse and resistant to change. The countries that show high uncertainty avoidance are Japan, Spain, and Portugal etc. People who are in low uncertainty avoidance are people who willing to take the risk and willing to accept the change. The countries that show low uncertainty avoidance are India, Malaysia, Singapore and etc. Power distance refers to the scope which people of a society have an equal division of power (Himachali, nd). A high power distance cultures are place into the hierarchies or pyramid order. People who are in the high power distance cultures emphasize on the power and privilege not challenged. The countries that show high power distance are Middle East, China, Mexico and etc. In a low power distance cultures, the power is equally given to the people among the society. People who are in the low power distance does not care who you are and they will just help you if you need their help. The countries that show low power distance are New Zealand, Ireland, the United Kingdom and etc. In a masculinity culture, rewards or recognition are given to the people in the society who achieve their goals for motivational factors (Himachali, nd). It classifies gender roles rigidly. The countries that show masculinity are Switzerland, the United State, the United Kingdom and etc. Man and Woman are in the same level or position in the femininity culture. They do not care whether you are a man or a woman, they feel responsible for everyone. The femininity culture focuses more on the “world” life than money, success and social status (Himachali, nd). The countries that show femininity are Sweden, Denmark, Thailand and etc. Lastly it will be the short term and long term orientation. People who are in the society with short term orientation will respect for tradition, carry out social obligations and concern with processing the truth (Himachali, nd). The countries that show short term orientation are West Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States and etc. On other hand, people in the society with long term orientation are adaption of tradition to the modern context, concern with respecting the demand of virtue, patience and perseverance towards slow results and high savings ratio driven by thrift (Himachali, nd). The countries that show long term orientation are South Korea, Brazil, Japan and etc. Hence, we can differentiate the intercultural communication and cross cultural communication by exploring the “third space” concept and the five dimensions from Hofstede’s theories.
The advantage and disadvantage can also help to differentiate intercultural communication and cross cultural communication. Healthy communities are one of the advantages for intercultural communication. It made up of individual communally for the benefits of everyone, not just their own group (Schlesinger, 2005). Intercultural communication people can work together as a team member to achieve a certain goal that will benefit everyone. Effective communication can eventually lower or remove walls of barriers misunderstanding in the intercultural communication that separate human from one another (Schlesinger, 2005). In other words, Healthy communities support all the people and attempt to understand, appreciate, and acknowledge each of everyone. Moreover, if the communicators are aware of the intercultural communication, it will be beneficial for them. This is because they will have the job opportunities. Nowadays in the global environment, being able to work with people from different culture is not an easy job especially in the international company (Berardo, nd). Without any intercultural communication skill, the chance of having a job internationally is slim to none. Therefore, in an international company, it will be good if the employees know some of the intercultural communication skills. One of the disadvantages in the intercultural communication can be defined as the cultural homogenization. Cultural homogenization is the tendency for cultures in contact with one another to become increasingly similar to one another (Tubbs and Moss 2008, pp345). Most of the time, the cultural homogenization is due to the intercultural exchange. The world is becoming homogeneous; as a result some aspects of one culture will take over and remove the corresponding aspect of the other (Tubbs and Moss 2008, pp345). The second disadvantage of the intercultural communication is the cultural change. Cultural change most likely is one culture is influenced by another culture and the culture starts to change. The cultural change usually occur when one is aware and understanding the other cultures in a long period. This culture change is also due the influence of the other culture around us. For example, a Malaysian go over to the United State of America to study, the Malaysian will tend to slowly being influenced by the American as day goes by. This is because the Malaysian already aware and understand the American cultures and he or she might feels comfortable with the culture. Therefore, the Malaysian will slowly practicing the American cultures without he or she noticing. On the other side, the advantage of cross cultural communication is the multinational company can make their products and services easy to get to a far wider community (impactfactory.com, 2003). By having their products and services to a far wider community will help the multinational company to increase their sales. For example, my mom used to work in a multinational company. The company does have their own products to a far wider community and it is no doubt that the company’s sales increase ten percent for that particular year. The disadvantage of cross cultural communication is that when people from different cultures meet and communicate or work together, they will find that there are some difficulties for them. For example, when my mom was working in a multinational company and there are a lots of different cultures people in the workplace. I remembered that there are quite a number of times when she came home after her work; she always complained to my dad that she cannot really communicate well with one of her colleague. My mom’s opinion and her colleague’s opinion are always different and the way her colleague gets her job done is totally different. Therefore, my mom is not used to her way of getting things done and she complained it to my dad. In other words, culture clash may occur. Hence, we can differentiate the intercultural communication and cross cultural communication by its advantages and disadvantage.
Besides that, by looking at how intercultural communication and cross cultural communication help in developing effective communication skills with people from different cultures can help to differentiate these two communications. By overcoming the barriers of intercultural communication and cross cultural communication, it helps to develop effective communication skills with people from different cultures. To overcome the intercultural communication, the communicator needs to understand and beware of the culture behavior. People in different culture will definitely do things in different ways (Gillett, nd). It is important for the communicators to aware and understands the culture behaviour when they are interacting with the society with intercultural communication. The communicators might also need to build up tolerance for behaviour that is different from their own culture (Gillett, nd). The culture behaviour that the communicators need to focus are the distance and personal space, body language, eye contact, posture and movement, and etc (Gillett, nd). For example from my own personal experience, when I went Japan for a vacation with my family, I always wonder why the Japanese will not have eye contact while we’re communicating. As we know that we Malaysian do eye contact while communicating with others. Therefore, I went and ask the tour guide and I finally know that the Japanese often have eye contact while they are communicating and they think that it is rude to do so and from that time onwards throughout the whole journey I try to avoid eye contact with the Japanese especially when we are asking for directions. In other words, the communicators need to be aware of the non-verbal communication of the culture that they are dealing with. Furthermore, avoid native slang and explain in simple words can help to overcome the barriers to intercultural communication. The communicators should avoid native slang and style especially when they are in other countries. Using the native slang and style will just confuse the listener as they might not get the truth meaning of the sentences (Drary, 2010). On the other hand, to overcome the barriers of cross cultural communication, an observation is needed. Most of the cross cultural information can be examine in people’s dress, interactions, body languages and behaviours (Payne, nd). The communicators got to observe and aware of the cultures and understand it. Besides observations, patience is also needed to overcome the barriers of cross cultural communication. Human are created differently and we need to recognize and understand that sometimes cross cultural differences are irritating and frustrating. In the irritating and frustrating situation, patience of the communicator is required (Payne, nd). Cross cultural communication will usually take more time (Berardo, nd). Speaking skills is an essential tool to overcome the cross cultural communication barriers. The communicator should slow down when he or she is speaking. He or she should also speak clearly even when English is a common language in cross cultural communication to ensure that the pronunciations are understandable for them (Payne, nd). The communicator must be an active listener as well. Listening skills and speaking skills must work in a cycle for effective cross culture communication (Payne, nd). The listener should not be afraid of asking the communicators to repeat the sentence if the he or she cannot understand what the communicators is trying to say. The next tool to overcome the cross culture communication barriers is to avoid asking negative questions. There are numbers of cross culture communication misunderstand have been caused by the negative answers and questions (Payne, nd). For example from my personal experience, my dad’s client from Holland came to pay a visit at my house and he was asking me “Your father is not at home?”, then I answered “Yes”, as most of the Malaysian will answer the same like what I answer to my dad’s client. I was shocked, because he thought that my dad was at home in the first place. From that time onwards, I try to give a clear and more positives answer whenever I am answering the questions. Hence, by overcoming the barriers of intercultural communication and cross cultural communication will help the communicators in developing effective communication skills with people from different cultures can help to differentiate these two communications.
In my opinion, I think that there is no intercultural communication is more useful than cross cultural communication or cross cultural communication is more useful than intercultural communication which is also means that both of the intercultural communication and cross cultural communication is good and useful. Intercultural communication and cross cultural communication have its goods in different ways but somehow there are still some disadvantages. A person in different cultures reflects themselves in different ways. The communicators must not overlook the intercultural communication and cross cultural communication as both of these communications are important for all the communicators to know about it. I find that it is interesting to study the intercultural communication and cross cultural communication and it really benefits me a lot when it comes to communicate with people especially people from different countries.
In conclusion, by the definition of intercultural communication and cross cultural communication, the theories of intercultural communication and cross cultural communication, the advantage and disadvantage of intercultural communication and cross cultural communication, how intercultural communication and cross cultural communication will them help in developing effective communication skills, and which is more useful can differentiate both of these cultures clearly. Intercultural communication emphasizing more on sharing the meanings across of the cultures but the cross cultural communication emphasizes more on comparing the communication style. The communicators should overcome the barriers of intercultural communication and cross cultural communication to avoid misunderstanding while communicating with others. This will help them in developing effective communication with people around the world.
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