Essay on Cross-Cultural Communication & Differences

Words: 1378
Topic: Psychology
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Cross-cultural communication is a crucial success component nowadays. Globalization and integration contribute to the importance of it.

Cross-cultural contact is vital on all levels. Relations across the borders are no longer unusual. Businesses all over the world strive to get into the global arena. Countries cooperate with foreign parties.

Any person can get communicate with foreigners regularly. Expertise in the field is a competitive advantage. This multicultural communication essay focuses on cross-cultural differences. It provides examples of cross-cultural communication.

Cross-Cultural Communication as a Topic

Intercultural contact has become a popular essay topic these days. Pupils and students of different levels need to elaborate on it. One of the benefits is that we start realizing how important the topic is.

Interpersonal contact occurs when any kind of information gets from one person to another. We can define the process as a sender-recipient transmission of ideas.

During intercultural communication, people from different cultures understand each other’s messages. At least, they should try to do so. Some people seek to only get their point across. They do not pay as much attention to their partner’s ideas.

A successful interpersonal communication implies various factors. It is connected with many competencies. Some of them are emotional intelligence and conflict management skills.

There are numerous barriers to effective communication. They include both objective and subjective aspects. Subjective factors might be emotional, psychological, connected with perception peculiarities, etc. For instance, the emotional state of the speaker and the receiver affect their perceptions of ideas. Moreover, interlocutors might face a lack of attention and interest. Sometimes the transmitted information seems irrelevant to the receiver, so they do not listen properly.

Objective barriers might be:

  • Distractions
  • Physical disabilities
  • Language differences, etc.

Those possible challenges are relevant to any type of communication. However, they become even more acute when the partners belong to different cultures. There are even more factors that start tuning in. In extreme cases, effective contact might even seem impossible.

Getting on well with people from other cultural settings requires efforts. People started realizing that fact long ago. In ancient times, when different tribes had to interact, they faced various challenges. People became aware of culture-specific differences and their impact on communication.

Since then, professionals studied the issue. Psychologists, sociologists, linguists, philosophers, and writers worked on it.  All tried to find a key to effective cross-cultural contacts.

In-depth research on the issue helped create new professions. Some of them are communication coach, negotiation consultant, etc. There are many classes, webinars, conferences, and other events on the topic. As the study field developed, textbooks and guidelines appeared. We can choose from many books written by businessmen, psychologists, and other specialists.

Colleges are integrating the subject into their study programs. Students can explore it in any country in the world. There are Bachelor’s, Master’s, and PhD programs related to cross-cultural communication.

Businessmen are aware of the importance of that topic, too. Effective intercultural communication implies the success of business negotiations.

A lack of the appropriate skills causes most conflicts in business. Negotiators cannot contact effectively because of culture-specific issues. This leads to a loss of business opportunities. An essential ingredient for building rapport in business is a substantial cultural awareness.

Cross-Cultural Differences

Communication is imperfect due to culture-specific differences. The reasons are distinctions in language, behavior, etiquette, non-verbal signals, etc.

One of the most apparent differences is a linguistic one. People from different countries might face language barriers. Insufficient language competence might lead to conflicts. Translators and interpreters can help the parties understand each other. These specialists need specialized culture-specific knowledge to succeed.

There are many culture-specific linguistic elements. Some of them are metaphors, proverbs, references to national literature and folklore. These things are difficult to translate without specific knowledge. One should be aware of the cultural implications behind such words.

There is such a phenomenon as culture-bound lacunae. These are the words denoting some concepts that do not exist in the other party’s culture. There is no adequate analog in the other language.

Problems may arise even if both speakers use one language. There are many differences in the use of it. For instance, both speakers may be from the US, the UK, and Australia. They will see many variations in the vocabulary of each other. All parties can speak English and have troubles understanding each other.

Insufficient cultural awareness leads to conflicts. One may offend a person of a different culture without a purpose. This happens because of stereotypes, prejudices, and inadequate perceptions.

False expectations based on stereotypes and prejudices lead to false assumptions. People hear what they expect to hear rather than what others mean. This leads to incorrect conclusions.

Cultural differences are apparent when comparing the norms of conduct. The rules of social interaction vary in different countries. Sometimes they differ even in the regions of the same country. The rules of etiquette include:

  • Greetings;
  • Business cards exchange;
  • Non-verbal signals and their meaning;
  • Appropriate topics for small talk, and more.

Those differences are apparent in negotiations where the parties are from the East and West. For example, Americans can be amazed by the Chinese specifics, and vice versa.

Businessmen are to communicate with people from other countries. In these cases, they should make sure to explore cultural specifics of their partners. Some other aspects that can vary in different cultures are:

  • How freely one expresses emotions;
  • The concept of personal space;
  • The concept of time;
  • Decision-making process;
  • The way people perceive presents;
  • How negotiators structure their meetings (whether they stick to the agenda or “go with the flow”), etc.

All this proves how difficult it is to communicate across cultural borders.

The value of such communication is that one can break stereotypes, enrich their perception, and learn new concepts. Stereotyping may seem comforting. Still, its negative impact is more important than the benefits. Prejudices and false expectations lead to a limited understanding of each other.

One should be open-minded and eager to embrace cultural specifics. That is the key to successful cross-cultural interaction.

Conclusion

Contact between cultures is important in our everyday lives. Some people communicate better than others. Some have conflicts, whereas others get on well. It is true for cases when the two parties are from different cultural settings.

People presenting different cultures face numerous objective and subjective barriers. It is possible to overcome them. In the modern world, all people should be aware of culture-specific differences and be ready to embrace it.

Effective intercultural communication is important. It leads to good relationships, successful business deals, emotional enrichment, and more.

Cross-Cultural Communication FAQ

❓ What does cross-cultural communication mean?

Cross-cultural communication is an interaction where the parties belong to different cultural settings. It is a vital component of modern life. Globalization and Internet technologies facilitate these contacts. Negotiations between American and Japanese business partners are cross-cultural. Another example is talking to a foreigner when traveling.

❓ Why is cross-cultural communication important?

At present, a well-known saying, "It's a small world" has become as accurate as ever. Infrastructure and Internet technologies connect different parts of the world. People from different cultural settings interact all the time. Building a rapport with foreigners is only possible if we respect their cultural specifics.

❓ What are the challenges of cross-cultural communication?

Naturally, people understand the world in different ways. Parties face various challenges of subjective and objective hindering factors. The culture we belong to shapes our perception. Every culture generates prejudice, stereotypes, specific etiquette rules, and more. Cross-cultural contact is much more complicated due to culture-specific differences.

❓ How do you manage cross-cultural communication?

Managing cross-cultural contacts is one of the main tasks for present-day businessmen. Interaction with foreigners takes place often in our day-to-day lives. In successful contact, many factors are important. We should research, respect, and embrace culture-specific differences. There are multiple cross-cultural communication essays, textbooks, guides, classes, and other sources. They help to understand the concept better.

❓ What are the principles of cross-cultural communication?

Different specialists list multiple principles. The common thing is that the parties should be open-minded, curious, respectful, and friendly. Intercultural communication breeds the issues of verbal and non-verbal contact. The parties should be aware of those potential challenges. Another principle is to control your behavior not to offend others.

References

  1. Cultural competency in the delivery of health services for Indigenous people (Australian Government)
  2. Definitions of Cultural Competence (Georgetown University)
  3. Multicultural Collaboration (Community Toolbox)
  4. Cross Cultural Training (North Territory Government)
  5. Culture Matters (The Peace Corps Cross-Cultural Workbook)
  6. How to Improve Cross-Cultural Communication in the Workplace (Northeastern University)