Culture and its Impact on Intercultural Communication
Culture represents a common framework through which people organize their emotions, thoughts, and behavior concerning the world around them and interactions with representatives of other ethnicities. It is not innate; a person learns it throughout life in the process of socialization in the family, with friends and acquaintances at university, at work, and in other areas with which he or she comes in contact. In an individual’s consciousness, the environment is perceived through various moral and ethical values, religion, and many other factors related to ethnicity. Culture determines aspects of how to feel, instructs the ways to think, and teaches how to act, in particular how to interact and communicate with other people.
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Apart from it, culture affects a person and his intercultural communication not in terms of geography, but in the aspect of its formation by people. The individual and the civilization in which he or she lives represent a complex system of interactions. In particular, the former influences the latter, on the one hand, and the latter forces the generation of human values and worldview, including intercultural communication. While geography affects how a society operates within its traditions, people create culture. For instance, the community forms non-verbal communication, values, norms, rules, and manners. Thus, it is more a human phenomenon than a geographical one.
The culture influences intercultural communication through an individuals interpretation during numerous interactions in various spheres and forms between him and representatives of another ethnicity. For example, people move from one civilization space to another, and their lifestyle context affects the interpretation of language and thinking. In this way, adaptation and self-organization in a foreign cultural environment occur. In its process, there is the coordination of individuals’ activities among themselves, the integration of social groups, exchanging achievements between persons and nations, and society’s unity as a whole. During communication between representatives of diverse ethnicity, the differentiating criteria become pronounced. Pictures of the world collide, and people must be ready to perceive, through the prism of their cultural characteristics, phenomenon, and concepts unfamiliar to them, which is the key to successful communication.
Dimensions of Bengali Culture
Bengali culture focuses on collectivist values in terms of dimensions of its variability such as individualism and collectivism. The Bengali society is characterized by a family orientation and people position themselves precisely as its members, not as autonomous individuals. The importance of family interests and a commitment to religion and harmony distinguish this culture. Emerging social bonds are strong and reliable, and are maintained over a long time. People of this ethnicity consider themselves interconnected, trust each other, and can always ask for help.
For Bengali culture, non-verbal elements of communication are essential, therefore it is characterized more as ethnicity with a high context than with a low. People are usually close to each other during a conversation. Besides, an inherent aspect is a physical contact between individuals of the same gender, for example, hugging the shoulders. Apart from it, another non-verbal component during communication is the absence of a smile, which, however, is not a sign of coldness or unfriendliness.
Bengali culture has a large power distance, and a hierarchy takes place in many social spheres. For example, in the family, the father is the main source of power, while the oldest woman also has significant authority. At the same time, other women are engaged in household chores and upbringing children. The latter treat their parents with tremendous reverence and respect and show obedience to them. Children seek advice from them about life matters such as marriage and education.