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“Individuals interpret messages according to their own experience, attitudes, expectations, cultural norms and skills, and to the context in which the message is received.” Discuss this statement using a range of academic sources relating to effective communication.
Individual need communicate everyday. Communication is a process through people exchange of thoughts, messages, or information to interpret meanings (Wood 2000, p.14). In addition, individuals act and show evidence thinking in a way appropriate to their culture. However, communication nowadays became complex due to increased globalisation and changing demographics. Individuals today cannot avoid involve with other groups. Individuals today are from diversity, therefore different cultural have dissimilarity communicate style and ideological. They often bought up with certain set of experience, attitudes and expectation so that both should have show harmony and respect to other during intercommunication. If not, they might easy to have a dissension. Due to this, this essay wills concern about the drawback of inefficiency communication, while individuals inaccuracy to interpreting message according to their belief within intercultural communication society.
Despite intercultural communication is importance, but learning to its difficult. Marsen (2006, p.15) has described this statement with used of Shannon and Weaver's model. The author explains information transmitter to receiver sometimes been interfere within progress, which means the message distorted form and cause failures in communication. It is because several of barriers keep individuals from different cultures from understanding one another. These disturbances have included ethnocentrism, stereotypes, prejudice, emotion, perceptual and others.
Ethnocentrism defined as belief in the superiority of own ethnic group (Wood 2000, p.108). It is often result in stereotypes. It lead individuals think and behave that it has right to dominate and exploit other groups. Stereotypes and prejudice attitudes are also sabotage trust, it makes difficult to build trust-establishing relationship among others (Carr-Ruffino 1996 cited in Cooper et al 2007, p.305). It could be therefore being concluded that an ethnocentric individual will not interpret message to others culture receiver within effectiveness.
Malaysia is a multiracial country. It cultural diversity comprising the Malay, Chinese, Indian and a small percentage of other ethnicity, with Islam as the main religion followed by Buddhism, Christianity and Hinduism. Today, the new Malays who are moving forward to redefine themselves have face the old paradigm of ruling ethnic insecurity persist, acrimony and suspicion (Mysinchew.com, 2009). The conservatives are scaring to lose their privilege and ruling when compare to Chinese and Indian after disastrous defeat in their last election.
Mass media act as a communication function play important role to interpret messages among others in Malaysia. It purposes to create harmony among others and let be conscious of others social and culture living. However, newspapers today are misapplication to calling for ethic conflict. The mainstream mass media in Malaysia are all owned by the ruling party or controlled by their connections, and they are overriding concern with their own incentive (Azizul 2006, p.29). For example, the task of Utusan Melayu newspaper was only to give good coverage to the Malay and has been extensively used in the political issue campaign for UMNO, the Malay leading party in government coalition. It is hardly to find out articles which there are related to others race issue and news in Utusan Melayu. Azizul (2006, p.72) has further criticize “it helps create a thick cocoon of feel good news where someone can do no wrong and silence any voice although it could be good for nation”.
No doubt, different type's languages of newspapers in Malaysia are always concern with its certain race and party issue only. It sound like each does things in its own way. Ethnocentrism and stereotypes effect cause individuals are more self-regard on their race benefit first but not on the Malaysian perspective. While at the same time, they will not let others to crossover their head.
For example, articles in Utusan Melayu (24th August 2009, p.12) once again keeping attack Chinese newspaper disrespect to the Malays, and call on Malays defend their privilege progressive. This is not the first time Utusan Melayu to instigate dominant race versus minority races. Of course, it is true that Malay privilege which included Islamic religion is defined in Malaysian Constitution cannot be challenge by others. Moreover, Malay beliefs, attitudes, perceptions and behavior are strongly influenced by the teaching and tenets of it religion (Jamaliah 2000, p.5). Due to language as a significant of Malay symptoms, racist are often use it as tools to prevent their ruling by interpret sensitive or threaten issue in newspaper, to make people segregating and recriminating. But in reality, while they success achieve their motive but the Malay privilege is not being challenging. Thereby, Dr. Azly (2009) has criticized that:
… Utusan Melayu has some good stuff to contribute to society but generally its mission and vision is to build soul cages of the Malays … the mind of the Malay is warped and distorted … through the Malay language it brings thinking into a tabloid dimension and relegates politics into a subject of advancing the backwardness of ultra-communalism … (Malaysia-today.net)
In fact, the government and mass media are lack of awareness even sensitive article spread abroad from the news but them denial of it. Nurul (2009) further argued that “they claim to want protect and uplift the Malay community, but all they have been doing for is playing on their fears and prejudices”. People are incapable of comprehensive message, and thus message cannot be separate accurate and effectiveness. They are interpreting message to others, but they are making mistake of their experience, attitudes and expectations and so on. They are misapplication to instilling fear to receiver or even on oneself.
Instead, they should have an effective communication within cross-cultural society. Analogy of an iceberg is often used to explain the intercultural communication (Bretag et al 2007, p.301). Individuals less knowing others deeper culture easy to cause misunderstanding. The internal culture consists of ways of thinking and perceiving, non-verbal communication, implicitly learned overtly and so forth. Besides that, communicate respect and beware of non-verbal communication also enhance the message are be receive accurate. It is because cultural values and beliefs are often unspoken. Thereby, individuals should also increase knowledge of other culture to avoid misunderstanding and culture conflict. Frankly, Malaysian should have a “third space” communication perspective in other to communicate effective among Malay, Chinese and Indian. They must step outside of own culture and search for significant or deeper points of similarity within culture, to reduce prejudice and minimizing miscommunication with diverse others.
In conclusion, globalisation world today is truly multi-cultural. Therefore, individuals interpret messages should not only according to their own experience, attitudes, expectations, cultural norms and skills, but also need well understand of others culture belief and values to insure the message is truly been receive. Ignoring of cultural differences in an interaction can potentially signal trouble. Intelligence communicate helps avoid misunderstanding among individuals.
Abdul Jalil, 2009, “Ambil tindakan akhbar Cina melampau”, Utusan Melayu, 24th August 2009, p.12
Azizul Halim, 2006, Political Economy of the Mass Media in Malaysia, UPENA, Kuala Lumpur.
Azly Rahman, 2009, “Utusan Melayu … or Ugutan Melayu”, in Malaysia-today, viewed in 28 August 2009, < http://mt.m2day.org/2008/content/view/25370/1/>
Bretag, T, Crossman, J, Bordia, S, 2007, Communication Skills for International Students in Business, McGraw Hill, NSW, Australia.
Cooper, PJ, Thomas, CC, Simonds, CJ, 2007, Intercultural Communication: A Text with Readings, Pearson Education, Boston.
Jamaliah Mohd. Ali, 2000, Verbal Communication: A Study of Malaysian Speakers, University of Malaya Press, Kuala Lumpur.
Marsen, S 2006, Communication Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, New York.
Mohamed Suffian Ahmad, 2009, “Sampai bila mahu beri muka?”, Utusan Melayu, 24th August 2009, p.12
Nurul Izzah Anwar, 2009, “Nurul speaks on Malays”, in Mysinchew, viewed in 28 August 2009, < http://www.mysinchew.com/node/28806>
Wood, JT 2000, Communication in Our Lives, 2nd edn, Wadsworth, CA, United States of America.