This paper examines intercultural communication competency, especially in the context of interactions at the work place. Some important advantages of the ICC are highlighted. An analysis of the impact of inter cultural differences in communication is also carried out.
Personal experience has been included so as to provide the credibility to the study and to show how this course has been important, as far as knowledge in intercultural competence is concerned.
Increased global trade interactions have resulted in new cultural partnerships, unique cultural interaction and integrated cultural exchanges. In such cases people from different cultures often try to exchange information and interpret or understand the other party.
Intercultural communication competency comes as a result of the interpersonal communication competency research. This has been used to show that an individual may be good in his/her own culture, but not good with other cultures. ( Samovar & Porter, 1994).
The first key component is appropriateness. This is the the ability to interact with another party in a socially sensible way so as not to offend that party. This component will enable an individual in charge to be able to value rules, norms, and furthermore , the expectations of the relationship will not be violated in any manner.
This means the individual will be able to select the message according to the cultural speech code, so that each individual in the organization will fill a part of the system maintaining his rules of social conduct. It is necessary because the ability to pursue the goals of the organization depends on the freedom of the others in pursuing their own goals as well.
The second key component is effectiveness. This is how we effectively achieve our goals as an organization, through communication. This gives the organization the ability to maximize rewards and minimize costs. It provides clear communication in an intercultural setting as well. This effectively enables the individual to send an effective message to the workers, so that they are able to derive his intended meaning.
Effective strategies are interpreted differently by different cultures, so a competent communicator has the ability to understand both parties positions and consider them before making the final move in a negotiation. As far as effective communication is concerned, valued goals and objectives can be achieved by the organization.
The concept of anxiety and uncertainty reduction comes third. This means that we can experience uncertainty during an interaction with other parties, especially when their behaviors are unpredictable.
Competence in this interaction will enable a qualitative and quantitative communication. The individual will be able to predict the other party’s behavior and attitudes, which can then be well explained. This means the individual will be confident while dealing with the workers from other cultures. Competent communicators will experience less anxiety. When we are aware of the other parties entrenched position during a negotiation or any communication, we will let the individual know how to communicate more effectively in order to achieve the intended strategy. We are also able to be in control of an interaction in such cases.
The success of reaching an agreement will be almost guaranteed and could result in a long lasting relationship in the future. Our experience in uncertainty also enables us to be motivated and open to new information from the other party, so that they don’t feel that we are disinterested in the interaction or despise it in any way.
The adaptive component is a key factor as far as the intercultural communication competence is concerned. Adaptation is the adjustment to a new or unfamiliar situation or setting. It comes with the willingness to accept another person’s customs, or their world view. So this lets a competent communicator to quickly adapt to new situations. This therefor enables us to begin to feel and construct our identity from their viewpoints, as long as we take our perspectives of another person. The new identity is key to the integration process during the communicators interaction.
The idea that one must adapt, adjust or integrate into the system is key, especially for immigrants. This will enable long term organizational relationship. In case of communication, adapting the verbal and nonverbal messages to the appropriate cultural context will go a long way to create a discussion atmosphere that reflects an interactional process that creates the third party culture phenomenon.
This blurring of culture surely results from a geocentric identity.
Another important factor on the list of intercultural communication competence is the idea of face honoring and protection. This entails dignity and respect which are important in business communication. Naturally, we respond positively to those who demonstrate a positive regard to themselves and an appreciation for differences.
There are several orientations as such, and as a competent communicator it is very important to know them. For example, in the U.S, communication is typically more of a self-image concern, whereas in Thailand, it focuses on the trends coming from anothers image or group image concerns. The competent communicator is also able to utilize the different image strategies during communication including the image protection strategy, I,age –threatening strategy and immage-innovative strategy.
The communicator may implement self-protection strategies so as to preserve his or her image and protect it from any possible damage.. Others are messages that bolster the other’s competency or trustworthiness to prevent damage to the other party’s image.
Thus, we are able to deflect embarrassment or shame coming from other persons by providing rationale or justification in the circumstances, or pretending the incident did not occur. ( Nishiyama, 2000).
The high cultural context and low culture context are terms presented by the anthropologist named Edward T. Hall, in his book called Beyond culture. Different cultures use high context messages or low context messages as in different circumstances..
In a situation where the tow cultures interact, there is likelihood of a collision in terms of understanding and interpretation of the message. For example a high context speaker can find the low context speaker to be offensively blunt, while they themselves will be seen as secretive, devious and surprisingly unforthcoming with information. This will mean a lack of successful agreement and understanding between the parties.
Again, the high context individual could feel that the other party simply insults their intelligence by explaining the obvious, while they are felt as providing no direction and talking only by beating around the bush.
I will advise the low context culture individual to be a member of small, close knit groups and practice reliance on those groups. He/she should ask more questions and take time to develop the relationship needed to accomplish the things that need to be done, as a way to adapt to the high context caliber.
My understanding of cultural dimensions would allow me to be able to understand the manager better, so that an established future relationship could be developed. I will try to ask questions so that I am able to comprehend the intended meaning of the conversation.
Having been raised in a military family and with an Irish heritage, I was exposed to two distinct cultures which consequently shaped, honed and developed my present day character. Irish culture encompasses many different aspects pertaining to the expectations of individuals of Irish distinction.
These aspects include:
• Placing great value in individuals,
• Close knit family values
• Formidable handshakes when greeting and departing from business or social gatherings
• Conservative forms of affection in public
• Reserved, patient and non-arrogant personal behavior
• Outwardly accept authority but inwardly have a strong displeasure in accepting authority
• The dislike of a bureau tic process
• Planning and strategy are short term
• Long on patience – short on temper
• Naturally courteous
• Devote relationship involving Christianity
All of which, while growing up, were taught by both parents and reinforced through our entire lives. My father, having served in the United Navy, was at home only occasionally due to overseas duties. The formatted expectation was the same, whether my father was present or absent. In hind sight and having raised my own children I wonder at times about how my mother was able to raise four young boys to adults. “It is important for you to understand that culture is learned– it is not inborn.” (Intercultural Communication)
My father’s absence and long term sacrifice magnified the importance of family ties and the time a family shared. In conjunction to the limited time spent together the importance of child versus adult interaction was taught, whereby, children did not routinely speak unless spoken to. This message in itself was hard to understand due to the outgoing manner that was bred in the general disposition toward us. These layers include such aspects as world views, values, and norms. Initially, the deep layers are invisible to the cultural outsider.
Having been in the construction business for some thirty odd years I have found networking as a vital tool for successful and long term relationships. With this in mind I made a point to introduce myself to all the new employees when coming on to the job site. As such, I was sitting in my assigned cubicle, performing everyday activities when I heard one of the construction managers in the process of introducing a new China interface manager to other employees within the department.
I, of course, only paid partial attention to the introductions but was aware of the individual’s presence due to the fact he was in the adjoined cubicle. A week had passed, whereby I occasionally heard the characteristic conversing with other employees while establishing his computer software, assigned training and associated paperwork. The gentlemen seemed to possess an outgoing nature, thereby simplifying our introductions.
The following day, in the quietness of the morning, I decided to introduce myself. I approached the gentlemen’s cubicle, and discovered that he was engaged in a computer tutorial. I then gently knockedon his cubicle wall, whereby, I then promptly introduced myself and my position relative to the project. He immediately extended his hand and introduced himself as Adonis Chan, or as he remarked, a lot of people just refer to me as A.C. I courteously, replied – well then A.C. it is!
We held a brief but informative discussion, whereby, each of us ran through past business experiences and previous employers. Come to find out A.C. had been employed by the Southern company for some 26 years, previously, had served as a Senior Reactor Operator and Finance specialist. I would have never guessed from the initial meeting A.C. had this relevant experience.
Additional time passed, and A.C. and I became close friends. I began to critique him on his attire due to the fact it seemed to be lacking promimance for a person of his stature and personality.
The best way to develop these competencies is to teach my family and friends as well as sticking to the rules governing such important behaviors.