Communication between cultures

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Communication (human communication) is a dynamic process in which people attempt to share their thoughts with other people through the use of symbols in particular settings.

  • A symbol (in human comnication) is an expression that stands for or represents something else.

  • Culture is a set of human-made objective and subjective elements that in the past have increased the probability of survival and resulted in satisfaction for the participants in an ecological niche, and thus became shared among those who could communicate with each other because they had a common language and they lived in the same time and place.

  • Perception may be defined as the process whereby people convert external events and experiences into meaningful internal understanding.

  • Cultural patterns can be seen as systems of integrated beliefs and values working in combination to provide a coherent, if not always consistent, model for perceiving the world. These patterns contribute to the way you see, think, and feel about the world and how you live in it.

  • Identity is considered to be the reflective self-conception or self-image that we each derive from our family, gender, cultural, ethnic, and individual socialization process. You continually acquire new identities as a natural process of life experiences. Also, you have more than a single identity.

  • Human identities are those perceptions of self that link you to the rest of humanity and set you apart from other life forms.

  • Social identities are represented by the various groups you belong to, such as racial, ethnic, occupational, age, hometown, and others.

  • Personal identity is what sets you apart from other in-group members and marks you as special or unique.

  • Relational identities are a product of your relationships with other people, such as husband/wife, teacher/student, or executive/manager.

  • Communal identities are typically associated with largescale communities, such as nationality, ethnicity, gender, or religious or political affiliation.

  • Language is a set of shared symbols or signs that a cooperative group of people has mutually agreed to use to help them create meaning. The symbols and their meanings are often arbitrary.

  • Nonverbal communication involves all those nonverbal stimuli in a communication setting that are generated by both the source and his or her use of the environment, and that have potential message value for the source and/or receiver.

    1. Phases of culture shock

    • The exhilaration stage is usually filled with excitement, hopefulness, and even a feeling of euphoria as the individual anticipates being exposed to a different culture.

    • The disenchantment stage begins when they recognize the reality of the new setting, start to encounter some difficulties, and adaptation and communication problems begin to emerge.

    • The adjustment stage is when the sojourner gains some cultural insight and gradually begins to make some adjustments and modifications in coping with the new surroundings.

    • In the effective functioning stage, people understand the key elements of the new culture (special customs, behaviors, communication patterns, and such) and feel comfortable in the surroundings.

    1. How to overcome culture shock?

    • Learn about the language of the host culture: language acquisition and the ways of speaking unique to the new culture.

    • Guard against ethnocentrism: members of the host culture pass judgment on outsiders while the person trying to adapt cannot, or will not, sublimate his or her native culture.

    • Learn about the host culture: become aware of the fundamental characteristics of the culture in which you will be living.

    • Work to maintain your culture: find other people who share your culture and spending time with them.

    • Consider ethics (what is right and wrong, and proper and improper): determine what you ought to do, how you ought to act, and how you should interact with people from two of the most common perspectives: fundamentalism and relativism.

    + Search for commonalities among people and cultures: people’s hopes, aspirations, desire to survive, search for love, and need for family.
    + Respect cultural differences.

    1. Why avoid overgeneralisations and how?

    • The values and behaviors of a particular culture may not be the values and behaviors of all the individuals within that culture.

    • First, cultural generalizations must be viewed as approximations, not as absolute representations.

    • Second, when you do make generalizations, they should deal with primary values and behaviors of a particular culture.

    • Third, when employing generalizations try to use those that can be supported by a variety of sources.

    • Finally, conclusions and statements about cultures should be qualified so that they do not appear to be absolutes, but only cautious generalizations.

    1. Purposes of communication

    • Through contacts with others, information is accumulated that helps define who you are, where you belong, and where your loyalties rest.

    • Communication also assists in collecting data about other people. That information serves two purposes. First, it enables you to learn about the other person. Second, it assists in deciding how to present yourself to that person.

    • Conversation with others creates an enjoyable experience as it produces a feeling of warmth and friendship.

    • Communication allows you to send verbal and nonverbal messages that can shape the behavior of other people.

    1. Components of communication
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