Why cross-cultural communication matters?
Cross-cultural communication (intercultural communication) is a field of study that investigates how people from differing cultural backgrounds communicate, in similar and different ways among themselves, and how they communicate across cultures. It is a broad field with elements from different disciplines. It positions itself in the realm of arts and social sciences.
Thi si sone version of its orgin.
It began during the cold war of the 20th century. During the Cold War, the United States economy was largely self-contained as the world was polarized into two separate and competing powers: the east and west. We had two Germans – East and West.
However, changes and advancements in economic relationships, political systems, and technological options began to break down old cultural barriers.
Business transformed from individual-country capitalism to global capitalism. Thus, the study of cross-cultural communication was originally found within businesses and the government both seeking to expand globally.
Businesses began to offer language training to their employees. Businesses found that their employees were ill equipped for overseas work in the globalizing market.
Programs were developed to train employees to understand how to act when abroad e.g. USA, Japan, now China. With this also came the development of the Foreign Service Institute, or FSI, through the Foreign Service Act of 1946, where government employees received trainings and prepared for overseas posts. There began also implementation of a “world view” perspective in the curriculum of higher education.
In 1974, the International Progress Organization, with the support of UNESCO and under the auspices of Senegalese President Léopold Sédar Senghor, held an international conference on “The Cultural Self-comprehension of Nations” (Innsbruck, Austria, 27–29 July 1974) which called upon United Nations member states “to organize systematic and global comparative research on the different cultures of the world” and “to make all possible efforts for a more intensive training of diplomats in the field of international cultural co-operation … and to develop the cultural aspects of their foreign policy.”
In the past decade, there has become an increasing pressure for universities across the world to incorporate intercultural and international understanding and knowledge into the education of their students. International literacy and cross-cultural understanding have become critical to a country’s cultural, technological, economic, and political health. It has become essential for universities to educate, or more importantly, “transform”, to function effectively and comfortably in a world characterized by close; multi-faceted relationships and permeable borders. Students must possess a certain level of global competence to understand the world they live in and how they fit into this world. This level of global competence starts at ground level- the university and its faculty- with how they generate and transmit cross-cultural knowledge and information to students.
Aspects of Cross Cultural Communication
There are several aspects that may be perceived differently by people of different cultures. These may include:
- Perception of Time: In some countries like China and Japan, punctuality is considered important and being late would be considered as an insult. However, in countries such as those of South America and the Middle East, being on time does not carry the same sense of urgency.
- Perception of Space: The concept of “personal space” also varies from country to country. In certain countries it is considered respectful to maintain a distance while interacting. However, in other countries, this is not so important.
- Non-verbal Communication: Cultures may be either Low-context or High-context: Low-context cultures rely more on content rather than on context. They give value to the written word rather than oral statements. High-context cultures infer information from message context, rather than from content. They rely heavily on nonverbal signs and prefer indirectness, politeness & ambiguity
The study of languages other than one’s own can not only serve to help us understand what we as human beings have in common, but also assist us in understanding the diversity which underlies not only our languages, but also our ways of constructing and organizing knowledge, and the many different realities in which we all live and interact.
BARRIERS TO EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION
Different languages and cultures represent a national barrier which is particularly important for organizations involved in overseas business.
Individual linguistic ability is also important. The use of difficult or inappropriate words in communication can prevent people from understanding the message.
Poorly explained or misunderstood messages can also result in confusion. We can all think of situations where we have listened to something explained which we just could not grasp.
Attitudinal barriers resulted from cultural differences and identities.
First published Sat Feb 23, 2002; substantive revision Tue Nov 28, 2006
The word ‘cosmopolitan’, which derives from the Greek word kosmopolitês (‘citizen of the world’), has been used to describe a wide variety of important views in moral and socio-political philosophy. The nebulous core shared by all cosmopolitan views is the idea that all human beings, regardless of their political affiliation, do (or at least can) belong to a single community, and that this community should be cultivated. Different versions of cosmopolitanism envision this community in different ways, some focusing on political institutions, others on moral norms or relationships, and still others focusing on shared markets or forms of cultural expression.
Nationalism, ASEANism, and Cosmopolitanism
Thai people love Thailand. They are proud of their languages and cultural heritage.
Thailand is a member state of ASEAN. What is ASEAN? One may wonder. ASEAN may be perceived as an association; it may be perceived as a legal agreement. The ASEAN identity is a man-made one, so it is artificial.
ASEAN requires less of nationalism, more of cosmopolitanism.